Laryngitis

I’ve hit a bit of a blogging wall. I’ve been stuck before, not knowing what to write about, or feeling like my posts are banal and boring. I’ve been too busy to write or too bogged down in other projects to give the ol’ blog much attention. I always seem to get back to it eventually.

But lately I feel like I have lost my voice. I have blogger laryngitis. It’s not that I don’t know what I want to say, it’s also that I don’t know how to say it.

I’ve been doing a writing retreat from Alison Gresik in which you go back over all your creative works and try to spot themes, identify what you like and don’t like, so you can refocus while moving forward. It’s been valuable but my overall reaction has been disappointment. It’s been a long time since I wrote something that I think is really good. Something that is funny or moving or powerful or beautiful.

And worse, when I look back at the things that I do like, I hear the voices of other people in there. My funny posts are copied from her or her or her. My sweet moment posts are copied from her or her or her. My musings on parenthood are stolen from her or her.

I’m not sure which is the real me in all that mash up. Which one is the voice that shines above the rest? What do I want to say, and how do I want to say it?

I don’t know.

I came away from Blissdom feeling as though I needed to refocus my writing and start fresh, but I really feel as lost as I ever have. I also was resolved to move my blog – finally, finally – to its own domain name, but even that is causing me to have an identity crisis. I love the name Turtlehead but it means something different to the rest of the world than it does to me. Should I rename my blog? Should I gather all my creative endeavours together under one “Lynn” style banner? Should I name my brand and develop a mission statement?

Ugh.

My blog has always been for me, a place for me to write. It’s not about selling something or getting somewhere or achieving any particular goals. It’s just meant to be a place for me to dabble in creativity.

But it’s been many, many years now and I’m still just a dabbler. I want to dive in, but I’m not sure I know how to swim.

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17 thoughts on “Laryngitis

  1. I like your blog. I can’t comment on your originality, as I don’t read many other blogs like yours. I’m not always interested in everything you post, but I don’t think you should expect that from any of your readers. But I keep your blog in my feed because frequently enough I really enjoy reading what you write. Hope that provides a bit of inspiration for you.

    As another incentive, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, the way to become a writer (or blogger, or whatever) is to write. Another quote I like: “A writer is someone for whom writing is difficult”. So if it’s hard, and it takes a lot of soul-searching – you’re probably doing it right.

  2. Tricky one to navigate. I wouldn’t worry about the “theft” of other styles. All artists are influenced by and to a certain extent copy one another. To list all the examples would be pointless, as they are too numerous to even contemplate.

    But more importantly than that, I once read some advice on creativity (it was referring to songwriting I believe) that went something like (my own words): “Who cares if you copy someone else? In the end, you cannot help but have your own voice. It will be there despite yourself.”

    I totally read everything you write in a Lynn mode of writing. I don’t think you can help it.

    Regarding the name of the blog: tricky again– I don’t think of the other meaning at all anymore. I just think of Lynn’s blog. I’d be sad to see the name change, but I would also understand the reason to update it. Hard to trust that all new and potentially new readers would “get it”. So it comes down to whether you’re really trying to build a larger audience or if you’re writing for you. If you’re writing for you, keep it. Otherwise, I guess the debate rages on and I’m no help. ;-)

    Mission statements and branding… that’s all marketing. And a lot of bloggers out there have a huge crush on marketing. They want to marry marketing. If that’s you, than marry her and have some mission statement children. Otherwise, screw it. Your blog posts are your mission statement, and your readers buy into it.

  3. I have been there. Not too recently. I let it sit. I waited. Then one day I had stuff to say and I didn’t care if anyone read about it. I went back and wrote it because I need to get it out. It helped me process.

    If you need a break, take it. One day you’ll feel the juices flowing again, and you’ll either come back, or start something new. But taking a break is not a bad thing, it could actually give you the rest you need to ‘fix’ your voice.

  4. Aw, sweetie, I really love your blog. I am with you – I just want to write, I don’t want to sell things, I just want to write for the love of it. And I am telling you, I do love your blog. I enjoy your posts very much. I hope you get over the laryngitis. We all get it sometimes. Sometime I’m like “Did I actually just write three posts about the snow?” Sometimes I feel that despair that everything has already been written and why try. But I’m telling you, I like all of your stuff, and so please keep writing. xoxo

  5. Sounds like you have a good idea of what you are in your second last paragraph. Though I didn’t go to blissdom so I don’t know what it was like, but it sounds like you got pretty clouded by it. Was there information overload? I think the only way I would try to get over this is by writing. Just free form write. You don’t have to publish it all just keep drafts. You will end up finding your style by just doing it. Good luck :)

  6. I have laryngitis too when it comes to my blog. And cold feet when it comes to fiction.

    I think we all influence each other. The best thing to do is to surround ourselves with voices we love. That’s why I read here!

  7. I didn’t see anything at the conference that addressed this kind of feeling (although I may steal the term “blog laryngitis” from you) but I know other people go through it. I do. I think if you do it for a while and you don’t have that burning desire for processed foods and other brands to feed you content, it’s not always easy to figure out why you’re doing this. I don’t have anything to say about this other than you are not alone, and that you’re the only one who can really answer the questions about your vision and your future. NO PRESSURE LYNN. Really, this is the kind of stuff I could talk about for hours but it feels strange to do it in a blog comment.

    Also, you named me in some fine company there *throatlumpy*–thank you.

  8. As usual, my comment will mostly be a mish-mash of other comments (see? Everybody borrows from everybody). Strangely, I came away from BlogHer with LESS of a burning need to become more of a brand or more cohesive or consistent – sort of like I realized I’m never going to want to do what I’d have to in order to monetize, so I feel free to be a dilettante. And I’ve never read a post of yours that I loved and felt like it copied me or anyone else (hugely flattered, nonetheless). It is possible to have echoes and similarities to other people’s writing without being derivative. If you want to do something new, I’m behind you, especially if it makes you feel inspired or revitalized, but what you’ve done is just fine.

  9. Hi Lynn, I hear you on this … I constantly wonder how I should reign in my blog into a more cohesive “voice” or “niche.” But then I just get too busy to do it and then I usually just say “oh, f*ck it, it’s my damn blog.” Aren’t I helpful?

  10. T.S Eliot said “Mediocre writers borrow. Great writers steal.” Ideas have to come from somewhere. You’re a great writer if you can take that idea and put it back out there with your own spin on it. You’re a great writer if you can take that idea and write about it in your own voice, with your own feelings mixed in with it. You do that, Lynn. You’re a great writer.
    I hate the word “should”. Nasty, four-letter s-word. It should be banished from the English language!! In my opinion, the word “should” means the wrong person is making the decision. Should you rename your blog? Should you gather all your creative endeavours together under one “Lynn” style banner? Should you name your brand and develop a mission statement? You COULD. The question is, do you want to?

  11. Is this one of those moments when you’re venting and don’t really want solutions, or can I jump in with some thoughts? I’ll do the latter, but if it’s the former, just ignore me. :)

    First off, any exercise that involves reviewing previous work is bound to produce a ton of doubt and confusion. It’ll make you pickier because you’ll notice things you wouldn’t before because you’re looking at your writing with a different focus.

    Personally, I’m not sure that does any good. Why? It starts to put you in a box. Particularly this business of focus. Sure, if you wanted to be one of the top blogs in the world, maybe focus would help. Not that you shouldn’t aim for that, but what’s more important to you? Fame or having an outlet for your writing that makes you happy? It’s very hard to do both. Once fame creeps in, we worry about pleasing others. We feel pressure to live up to reputations.

    For you, my vote would be to ditch fame and go for happiness. It’ll help you find your voice again since you won’t be worried so much about the quality. I’ve always found the posts you spent the least time writing are your best.

    (When I’m designing and am stuck I have a rule that I step away from the computer. The sketch tools are limiting. You have to play by their rules. So I go back to pen and paper, and I find it helps a ton with creativity. Writing a stream of consciousness and then fixing it up a bit might work well for you.)

    With that said, I fully support you getting your own domain. Do I think you should change your handle from Turtlehead? Well, yes. I do. That’s a tough thing to write because I know you love the name and have had it for so long, but our meaning of the name just can’t trump the more popular meaning of the name, and I *do* believe that over time, if you’re not one of the most popular blogs on the web, you’re going to be very, very popular.

    A new name might offer you some sort of rebirth, too. That can be refreshing. I’m sure there are other names you’ll love just as much.

    As for your themes, you seem to enjoy blogging about parenting the best: things you’ve tried that have worked for failed; funny stories about the kids; funny insights on the “why” of it all. That kind of thing.

    If you read the famous blogs, are they really that much better than yours? Not really. They’ve just tripped upon some luck of drawing in many readers. Ya, maybe they’re really funny or something unique, but honestly, they’re mostly just lucky. (Think of how many awesome bands out there never get radio play.)

    Anyway, that’s enough for now, but to sum up: stop thinking. Creativity isn’t a thinking exercise. Trust yourself and wander through it. You always get to the other side with fab results!

  12. Lynn, as someone who has grown-up kids and who is 15 years farther down the road of parenting and life in general, I LOVE your blog. It is the place I go to for fresh, insightful writing, and content too. All that to say you are a great writer with a strong, diverse following. Lately, with Blissdom and Truth and Beauty, you’ve been bombarded with branding and marketing and analysis of where you’ve been and where you “should’ go next. I agree with otownmommy: you know what you want from the blog; you’ve said so in your second-last paragraph. Maybe try forgetting the branding, the marketing and the analysis. Be yourself, do it for your own reasons, get out of your way. ((HUGS)) to you, my friend!

  13. I’ve read all the comments here and I agree with most of them. But to add my two cents – my Blissdom ‘Ah-Ha’ moment was when I decided that I’ve outgrown my current blog and it was never going to be ‘popular’. So, now I’ve started a second blog and I’ll write there with more of an eye for marketing/branding and as a new niche defined place. But my current blog? That I’m just going to leave alone for me (and a few friends) and I’ll write there as I’m moved to. And yes, why DIDN”T I meet you at Blissdom? Honestly, I think I was too scared to meet many new people. It’s easier on here to talk. Sigh…. :)

  14. I love reading your blog, I definintely think you have your own style that shines through. Whatever you decide to do, it’s ultimately about how you feel like spending your time, but I will follow you no matter what!

  15. I went through this lately – trying to figure who I was writing for. Ultimately, strange as it sounds, I’m writing for my kids for after I’m dead (or for when they are older). I am such a mom to them, all “eat your food groups and don’t hit each other” I like to think they will read my blog one day and have a giggle and realize that I wasn’t as lame as they thought I was.
    I think you have a unique voice, like that of an old friend, it’s very comforting – don’t go changing on me! I’ve dropped quite a few blogs over the past little while, but always visit yours. And you comment on mine, added bonus :)

  16. Lynn! You are one of my favourite writers and bloggers (and thank you for the shout out)! Don’t be so hard on yourself. I’ve written about writer’s block before. Basically… I try not to look at it as a “block” because that implies an obstacle that may be insurmountable. I do however see creativity as a vessel, and sometimes my vessel is overflowing, and other times it is empty. No biggie. Just step away and let it get filled up again. I take the dog for long walks, read the paper cover to cover with a hot coffee in hand, or go out with friends. Sooner than later it always fills up again.

    Also: if you write well with passion you will always have an audience.

    xo

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