I opened this blog a year ago today. By the time this goes live I will have had 320,000 views and over 4,000 comments.
More importantly, I’ve made a lot of good blog friends and if the comments and reader email are any guide helped a lot of people out.
HOW A WILL BECOMES A BLOG
This parallels advice I gave to a reader who asked for tips on starting his own blog, when I took him through my journey to the printed page.
1. Lots of commenting. I started blogging in earnest after about a year and a half of hanging around the Manosphere, reading everything I could and engaging with the very best writers and thinkers, debating, disagreeing and developing ideas. So when I finally hung out my own shingle, a lot of my growing pains as a thinker and writer in this space were worked out, and I had a whole bunch of people who already knew what I was about who became zero-day subscribers.
2. In tandem with commenting, I started writing down every time I had the thought “that would make a good blog post.” I did that for a month or so and before I knew it I had a spreadsheet of 250 would-be posts. That was when I knew I could do it, because I’d never run out of things to talk about. Interestingly, probably 10% of those topics at most have become published posts; I’ve been overwhelmed with topics to post on.
3. I already had a theme and a persona, and thankfully it didn’t bind me to any mindset. I’m not SingleGuy2011, BetaNoMore, PussyPounder or any other handle/theme that boxes me into a corner like all these single-girl blogs do. I’m just the Badger, a dude with an opinion – my credibility as a writer doesn’t depend on my age, life state or relationship status, and conversely I am not committed to an identity that might keep my real-life self from changing things up. (The power of psychological commitment is strong.)
3. I created a bullpen of posts to lessen the pressure of daily writing once I had gone live. I set a goal of having 20 posts written before I would launch the blog. I went to the library for a few days and wrote them all up from ideas I had percolated for months. (Admittedly I was on vacation for part of the time.) When I had all 20, I secured the blog domain and pasted one in.
4. Once I launched, I followed up point (1) – engaging with the readership and with like-minded blogs. I created conversations in the comments, traded email with other bloggers, used their comments as post fodder. I cultivated a good blogroll, linked to their posts, and comment at their place.
WHAT I’VE LEARNED IN THE LAST YEAR
I dig writing. I got into blogging because I had things I wanted to say. But I discovered the process of creating, proofing and publishing the ideas was as fulfilling to me as communicating the ideas themselves. I really enjoy arranging the paragraphs, coming up with little turns of phrase, and thinking about which reader will be touched by which concept I’ve elucidated. One of the most important things I’ve learned is letting go of and deleting a nicely-sculpted piece of prose that just doesn’t fit in the post I’m writing.
Despite being a longtime musician I am completely without muse when it comes to writing music. However, prose verily spills out of me every hour of the day. I used to avoid the writer tag, with thoughts of unemployed hipsters and barristos gallivanting around town telling people they were “writers” when what they were really doing was method-acting Ernest Hemingway’s alcohol-soaked lifestyle. But I’ve come around and even integrated it into my game. Now when a woman asks me about my work, I say “well I do _____, but what I really want to do is write.” This usually gets them asking more, and I lay on them my plan to become the first successful author of romance novels written for men.
Find the weak parts of your game and make them a priority. For me, my game was held back by not meeting enough women and not having enough things to do outside of work and home (so as to invite her into my life), so even though I had strong game and value, I lacked a platform on which to execute it. I eventually enlisted friends who were up for getting out of the house more and dedicated myself to approach count goals that got me moving.
Get enough sleep. This cannot be mis-overemphasized. When you don’t sleep consistently and enough, your performance for everything (work, sports, happiness, game) will suffer. Setting a time to get up in the morning every day seems to work better than having a standard bedtime; if you stick to it, your body will just make you tired when you need to hit the sack. Listen to it.
Have an accomplishment or vacation goal for the year. Pick a place you want to go, or something you want to check off your life list (climbing a mountain, a tour of whiskey distilleries, scuba diving, whatever). The people I socialize with, we rarely take vacations the way we should. Make plans to make sure you’re getting out of town if you can and experiencing big new things.
Get the right people around you. The folks you surround yourself with influence your worldview and behavior. Their behaviors get normalized in your mind. The time you spend with them is time you can’t use elsewhere, so make it count.
Are your friends not on the same page as you with regard to lifestyle and goals? Maybe they want to loaf while you’re up for more, or you want relaxation time and they are too type-A go-go-go. Do you have a roommate who’s slutty, or insufferably omega, or hates your significant other or plays passive-aggressive power games like leaving a half-serving of milk in the jug so they don’t have to throw it out?
Consider toning it down with these people or bagging them entirely. I have noticed especially among women there is this misplaced concept of loyalty based on past relationship, that because you and Stacy grew up on the same block you’re ethically required to show up to her girls’ nights out when you’re 25.
Life is really too short for this crap. There are always new friends to be made, but you can’t do that until you make some time for it. Moving several times has done a good job of excising bad friends from my day-to-day life, but I’ve also just come to accept that I can’t keep constant contact with all of my friends from elementary school on up to right now; Facebook et al is deceptive that way in making us believe we’re managing real friendships instead of prosaic status updates.
Aggressively inventory your time. I am naturally frugal, so money mis-spending has never been a big problem. I have found, however, that time is always scarce, and that I am adept at mismanaging it. Is that hour watching SportsCenter contributing to your life more than an hour of reading a classic book? How about the time you spend reading and commenting on blogs? (Gulp.) Is that particular blog adding enough to your mental life, or is it time to bump it off the RSS reader?
You can play this with all sorts of things – driving versus public transit (and the time versus relaxation factor), how and when you get food, your shopping habits (lots of time can be saved by optimizing trips or ordering online). When you start doing one of those things you declared a waste of time, stop yourself and say “I have better uses for my time.”
Decide where “good enough” is, and stop there. I have cultivated the skill of managing my own expectations and deciding when I’ve reached an adequate point of accomplishment on a hobby or task. I am one of those people who compulsively wants to be the best at everything he does, so it’s been a many-years process of accepting the point of diminishing returns, and realizing that I don’t have 10,000 hours many times over to become an expert in everything I do.
One example is exercise. I’d like to be in better health, but trial and error found that two to three half-hour workouts a week, plus a weekend bike ride and some discipline in my (paleo) diet, got me where I wanted to be healthwise.
Consume good media. There’s plenty of junk culture out there, and plenty of good stuff for your melon. Optimize the latter. “Veronica Mars” was an excellent use of my media-watching time (and it will be for yours too). I’ve been watching the “Mad Men” series a few episodes at a time. The entirety of “Friday Night Lights” is next.
I’ve finally read some of the classic fiction works I’ve been hoping to get to, with more on the way.
Think of the kind of place where the people you want to be around would go, and go there. Tying this all together is spending the time you have doing things you want to do at a level you’re comfortable with, with people you want to be around.
Since I was in college these have included townie bars, coffee shops, high school football games (a great way to meet coaches scouting the opponent), independent theaters, libraries, bike shops and gyms, more than one church, historical society events, meetups for various intellectual niches, even blogs.
Thank you, readers, for all your support.