blogging under pressure: a roots movement


I started this blog so I could show my far-away family some pictures of my babies and let them in on our lives, and in almost 2.5 years, I feel like the RunaMuck has really changed. I love this little spot of webbernet property so much so that I come here often to look at it and read it – just like I always have in my 22 years of keeping some sort of journal. I wonder at pictures and words just like my Daddy does in evening over his property, remembering the dot and tittle of rock and tree root, the many sounds of the creek below the bluff.

I’m feeling such a call to what I came here for in the first place and to what it is I really love to do.  We only have this one life, and if I’m going to spend any part of it on this blog, I want it to really reflect my heart, my love of creative writing (story-telling and poetry) and my love of healthy relationships, particularly the one we get to have with the Original Artist.

This blog world has turned out to be such a pressure cooker that when the lid comes off, I’m afraid I’m going be a different side-dish all together. I want the pressure of writing well, but not the pressure of having to measure up in a scene that some suggest has almost outlived its time. I keep trying to come up with a new way to be bigger and better, and all I can come up with is to write in a way that pursues the standard of no human being that is not also simultaneously GOD – lofty, I know. 

This is as crazy as saying: Let’s just start living healthily and throw away our scales. It’s as crazy as saying: Let the Spirit guide you. Walk by faith – not by sight

Am I alone in this? Are you feeling it, too – that pressure? Like I said, I love this scene. I love the people in this scene, and I can keep up, but I’m thinking, though, that I don’t want to – not as much as I want to pursue something other. If a bigger and better blog happens at no cost to my true art, then beautiful – really beautiful. 

Three cheers to the bloggers who post so their Mamas can see a first tooth. Three cheers to the bloggers who post poems and never get a comment. I want back that spirit, not that I’ve gained some enormous readership or something. I mean, if I write a poem, please comment, but I’m going to work harder to not care about the numbers. I have a lot to learn from the great master of downward mobility.

amberhaines
About me

53 Comments

Melissa Multitasking Mama
Reply October 7, 2009

It is a struggle to juggle (LOL that rhymed) expectations (that we are probably putting on ourselves) and the reason I started blogging in the first place.
I started to join a community of women online that build me up, support me, laugh with me and cry with me. That still exists, for sure, but it has gotten beaten down some lately.
Galations 5:19-26 really speaks to me about blogging and has helped me regain my focus (Upward) as of late.
Great post and know that you are not alone in feeling this way (and excuse my excessive use of parentheses :-)

Brooke McGlothlin
Reply October 7, 2009

I really resonate with what you're saying here Amber. I've only been blogging seriously for a few months and I already feel the pressure to measure up...it's serious pressure!

God keeps reminding me of His timing and His plan...and I keep saying "Yes Lord..."

Heidi
Reply October 7, 2009

Thank you so much for this, Amber. I've felt this pressure since day one of my blog and it's probably why I don't blog as often as I would otherwise! Pressure tends to shut me down and I've definitely seen that with my blogging. I need to do it first and foremost for me and a few close relationships, not to try to gain a readership or numbers or whatever it is I think is important sometimes.

Heidi
Reply October 7, 2009

Yes, exactly how I've been feeling lately! I think I even tweeted feeling uninspired. I think it is in part because I put pressure on myself to write something that would make people comment when I feel like writing about something else. I'm a simple girl, I love writing and coming back to the origional purpose I started doing it is refreshing. ;). Thanks for being real, I get you.

melissa
Reply October 7, 2009

i think for us who blog for the love of words it's the only way to do it.

dawn
Reply October 7, 2009

amen. I'm a new blogger with a tiny followership. I blog because I have things to say. I've felt the pressure to write something folks will want to come back for. I just keep telling myself to be myself, to write from my heart, and whatever pace I can manage...and leave the rest to God. If He wants to use my blog, I welcome that. But if not, I need to be OK with that too.

Great post.

Fiona
Reply October 7, 2009

YAY!! You put into words a lot of what I've been feeling! THANK YOU!! I blog because it is an outlet for me - I'm not into the numbers game at all. I believe if God wants someone to read something I write - He will point them in the right direction.....but it is easy to get caught into the whole crazy side of the blogland.

LisaLisa
Reply October 7, 2009

Wow....Thank you so much for this post! I blog because God has given me the passion to help children and I must obey his word. It's not a number game for me either but whatever he puts on my heart to write is what I will write for that day. He has control over every area of my life....blogging, twittering, face book and much more. :)

Great Post! I would like to follow you if that's OK with you

Jess
Reply October 7, 2009

Yes, there is something authentic about writing that first blog post that only your mother will likely see. I so get what you are saying here . . . as soon as I think about the performance, something shuts down. "The great master of downward mobility . . ." you are so right, this is the goal. I have a lot to learn there too.

deidra
Reply October 7, 2009

Right on! "The great master of downward mobility..." I'm gonna sit right here with that for awhile. Thanks.

Tamara
Reply October 7, 2009

In the Spirit of encouragment, you should know that I read you every day... right after My Utmost for His Highest... and that I experience a similar sensation in my soul after reading each of you. Honestly, thankyou for blogging, in whatever way, shape or form. God is mighty in you, and pouring out through the cracks.

Cassandra Frear
Reply October 7, 2009

If I'm writing close to the bone, that helps keep it pure.

We 're all in the process of growth, so it won't be perfect. Our motivation won't be perfect. But plain truth and dropped masks have a way of cleansing the soul and refining the eye.

Sara
Reply October 7, 2009

good words. I've been talking to God a lot lately about my blog and reading others' blogs. I could think of ten ways to yesterday to justify it...the community, the encouragement, etc. But I'm wondering whose applause I desire most. What is good and what is best. If I look back over these 7 years of mommyhood, I wish I had spent more time just being a mommy instead of being a mommy in between my creative endeavors. I think those endeavors have been good, fun, but not best. I'm asking God to show me who and how to serve more. To be His hands and feet. To waste my life (as Jim would say) on Jesus. I'm asking Him to help me place limits on myself. To practice saying no to myself. I want my life to reflect my first treasure.
I affirm what you're saying today.

Megan
Reply October 7, 2009

Yes! I think this blog-thing is so new that we don't know the rules nor do we know the consequences of our online choices down the road.

The more I see the ugly underbelly of what comes with fame (even blog fame), the more I seek to just stay real and small with my blog. To God be the glory!!

Sara, you are a beautiful soul, and I'm glad to know you.

mandie
Reply October 7, 2009

oh, girl, my words are so small and worthless, but His words, that He keeps reminding me of and that have been fitting into everything for me lately, are full of life and power, and love:

Philippians 4:9 (The Message)

8-9Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.

It's that last sentence that I am hanging onto, that my very breath is coming from lately. If i just do my best on all those things, then HE will make it all beautiful and exquisite- not that it would ever make any sense to me.

So much love,

mandie

Your Husband
Reply October 7, 2009

I'm going to take a break from my work day, and say this about that...

What if you ladies turned off the comments and the stat counters for one month. If you wrote just to write, for the purity of the art. What if you decided that, for one month, you wouldn't think about readership, or PR, or marketing, or being bigger and better than the girl one blog over. Would that make a difference in the way you approached the scene?

I'm just asking this question because you are all asking that question. I'm not trying to be the man that suggests a way to "fix" everything... just sayin'.

Amber
Reply October 7, 2009

You girls are making me cry.

Thank you.

Amber
Reply October 7, 2009

Good idea, Seth. BUT the statcounter is the scale.

We are asking that question, but ....
that is a hard one - so hard.

Sue
Reply October 7, 2009

I have a small blog, without many followers, and I don't write nearly as often as I ::think:: I should. I post pretty random, insonsistent thoughts, none of which seem very interesting most of the time. Who cares what I'm eating this week? or what kind of deal I got at the drugstore? or hear me brag a thousand times over how the Lord has blessed me with such a wonderful husband? I often find myself getting caught in the trap of wishing I could write better, or that I was funnier, or if I had a niche that my blog would be worthy of more readers. It's easy to feel guilty for not posting nearly every day or allow feelings of inadequacy to creep when reading other gals amazing blogs.

I haven't edited my About Me section since day 1, and I often need to remind myself of why I started blogging. Why? Because of other women's blogs that really encouraged me. Whether these women gave tips on how to be more frugal, or posted a tasty recipe I was able to try, or bragged about their amazing husbands, or spoke from the heart about conviction and how the Lord is constantly refining! These are the things that encourage me most...the things that aren't always profound. The things that some consider mundane. Although many of us in the "blog world" have never met, we have a common bond. As women, as Christ-followers, as wives, as mothers. We have the ability to encourage, convict, inspire, and challenge one another. That is what I wanted to be part of.

Thank you for this reminder today. It's good for us to re-focus and do some heart evaluation. Are we seeking to truly honor the Lord unselfishly with our blogs? Or have we turned our blogs into a popularity contest and secretly "love the praise of men more than the praise of God"? (John 12) Thank you for sharing from the heart and for your encouragement!

Kim
Reply October 7, 2009

My Mom reads my blog almost every day just to see what we're up too. It really is just a diary of my crazy life. It's like getting my thoughts out there. Maybe sharing a good laugh I had or some great links I found. I've always been an encourager and my blog became a bit of this and a bit of that but I hope to never sacrifice the fun I'm having writing, for numbers.
I admit that there is some serious pressure out there to out do, out perform, out number but I hope to always keep it real.

Great post! You're not alone!
Blessings,
Kim

Susan R
Reply October 7, 2009

A hearty second Amen! Awesome post Amber - you are not alone!

Ann Voskamp@Holy Experience
Reply October 7, 2009

Seth. These things.
I live with no stats counter.
And no comments.
(And kind Mr. Mcklinky? He makes me scared in my own space and I run hide... now and then, I brave, come and look him in the eye.)
I log in directly to the a new post... never see Google Followers.
So I've come down a five year path of silence.

Somethings happens to a soul when writing for an Audience of One; it's painful, the tearing back of the ugly layers.

True, it is hard and it is lonely but the Spirit speaks into silence and the words take on an echo that my soul has come to lean for.

Sometimes I confess, I want to know, knock the blog walls, and listen to see if anyone knocks back, but to look at a site meter, to look at the Google analytics, are these things like David calling a census?

What are numbers to God? How can we do war with words with one eye on the numbers? So I tell myself. So I live, wrestling the wayward eyes only to Him, for Him to do with the words as He pleases, how He pleases.

A gift slipped up on the everyday altar everyday, for Him alone.

Could we be hidden and little in cyberspace because Jesus calls us to the less-traveled places? To create only to feel His smile?

These are things I ask too... try, fail, try again to live.

His wild smile is wildly enough...

Loving you all...
All's grace,
Ann

    Amber
    Reply October 7, 2009

    Y'all some of these comments are hilarious and so encouraging. I never dreamed of this response. I felt all risky when I wrote it.

    Ann Voskamp, you can whisper anything you want to on my blog. I don't know that anyone has made me cry as much as you have, especially in the last two years, especially this week. You are a good friend - you and how you love truth.

    So many here in this space are that way. Thank you.

Sandee
Reply October 7, 2009

yes I agree. I don't have a following, and don't want one. I post for my momma, and a friend or two who might care about our family...but most I post for my children.... I journal into momma....and at the end of the year, I put the years blog in a book....and they can have it when they are all grown up.

Ann Voskamp@Holy Experience
Reply October 7, 2009

Amber,
May I whisper?
You are breathtakingly beautiful simply because you are.
No numbers can quantify that kind of soul beauty, His fingerprints all over your moments.

Do we women need to step away from the stats scale and simply look in the mirror? See the tender face of Jesus smiling, see the beauty of a God-made woman who has value because Abba Daddy loves her, because Jesus love-dies for her.

I really love you, Amber... trusting His love is soul hard.

No, you are s0 not alone... looks like we are all in this together :)
Learning to just sit quietly and trust the whisper of His wooing and that we really matter, as does our art, simply by function of whose we are.

Not an identity in a number but in *whose* we are.

Can I learn with you?

All my love,
Ann

Kelly @ Love Well
Reply October 7, 2009

Lots of wisdom in the comments here. Obviously, you are not alone in feeling that pressure. But it's a silly pressure, isn't it? It's very much of the world and not of Christ. We should strive to do our best for Him. The numbers mean little.

One of my favorite quotes about writing comes from Thomas Merton (who, himself, had a lot to say about why one writes):
"If you write for God you will reach many men and bring them joy. If you write for men--you may make some money and you may give someone a little joy and you may make a noise in the world, for a little while. If you write for yourself, you can read what you yourself have written and after ten minutes you will be so disgusted that you will wish that you were dead."

Tamara
Reply October 7, 2009

Some plants grow only in the shade, and some plants need lots and lots of sun. Some grow solitary in the desert, in the hot and dry, with roots that go way down for water... others spread out damp creeping and jungle lush into one another... Some need lots of attention, while others can be left for dead and yet still pop up green with one good drenching every other month. (These are the only plants that survive in my home). We are not all the same.

Speaking as someone who has already thrown away her scale, literally, let me just assure you that there are still a thousand other ways to measure yourself that are less than helpful. There are none of us who are capable of moving forward without paying attention to some kind of metaphoric scale, belt, mirror, tag or word of encouragment that tells us we are moving in the right direction. But we are not the scale... we are the body. Let us stand with you, holding together and encouraging, so that we are not merely a pile of writhing hands and knees all just performing our art for the Head. I do get the 'Audience of One' concept but, with respect, I fear we move too close to imagining a God who is vain, self-obsessed... self-indulgent. Why do we imagine God is so interested in being entertained? Or that He doesn't want us to know or care that anyone else is enjoying the music we're making, or the poetry we're writing, or how He magnifies Himself in us? Don't live for it... don't measure yourself by it... but do allow it to encourage you!

Megan
Reply October 7, 2009

I think real community comes from honesty. When we are who we are. When we share the silly random things from our day. When we write just to write. That's what we all relate to.
I've found that my worst posts are the ones I write trying to cater to a mass group. My best posts are always the ones I write just because I NEED to write.
You are a blessing, Amber. God is doing wonderful things with you. You are touching hearts that only He knows about. And it's Ok that only he knows about it. You just keep writing and He'll take care of the rest.

Jo@Mylestones
Reply October 7, 2009

Between your post and all these comments, I'm walking away so encouraged.
Amber, I've always thought, since I first visited here last winter, that this place DOES reflect your heart (spills of it, really). All those things you said you want your blog to be? It is so clearly those things. I've loved getting to know you here, seeing the pictures of your babies and the pictures you paint with your gorgeous poetry. Just keep going, Darlin'. Forget the scale or the pressure cooker or whatever. Just keep writing for the Original Artist.

Cassie
Reply October 7, 2009

You are so right!

Wonderful post!

BTW I am waiting for the day you write a book because your writing is so inspiring

Andrea @ Mommy Snacks.net
Reply October 7, 2009

This is so powerful! I don't really write much on my blog, but when I do, I do it for me. And, oddly enough I get more comments than normally when I share something that saves money.

But, I love all these comments - each one of them! Sometimes I do try to take a step back and align myself with what God wants for me and my little blog. When I do that, I feel so much better about things. I know that's how He wants it. I try each day to live just like He wants it...

Colleen Foshee
Reply October 7, 2009

Wonder if the first shall be last and the last first warning applies to blogs? For me, the raw power of a blog is that it's an outpouring of someone's life - whether it's read or not. The essence of a person flowing toward me through their blog is down right holy- no matter what the subject matter is. Why? Because their God made uniqueness can't be replaced. Or duplicated. It's set apart. And that's special. Thanks for raising awareness for all of us on why we're doing this blog thing - or why we should be.

To Think Is To Create
Reply October 7, 2009

Oh obviously you are not alone here. :) I love that you felt all risky.

I think as one commenter said -- it's all a silly pressure. Not from Above, at all. Truth - I never look at my stats. I haven't looked in about 2 months. I keep it there so I have a record I guess, if I need to, because I don't think there's anything wrong with doing some fun things with companies now and then that can still be authentic and fun for readers (not just me). It's so nice to never look. I really don't want to know, but I feel like it's smart for me to have just in case...

That takes self control, I know.

BUT I could never turn off comments, only because the community is so strongly a part of my heart. And for me - I need it. Imagine if you typed this post and had comments off...look what wouldn't be on this page right now. I think we do it for more than just the writing, even tho that is what calls us to open the new window and spill our soul and hit publish. The community keeps us afloat, guides us back to Him, to love. Sometimes even when that community is more silent than normal -- that too says something. Not something bad, but just that perhaps the post is meant to soak. Then to simmer. Not to light up, but to sink in.

xo

Sara Sophia
Reply October 7, 2009

What Ari said.
Exactly.

Write for The Bigger Purpose.
Write for Your Heart.

Just like you did on a long ago summer and enjoyed the words dripping from your pen just because they were ink, to paper, to soul.
In your computer house, its the same way.
type, to post, to soul.

--Sara Sophia

Sonia
Reply October 8, 2009

Thank you for this post, I'm not a blogger but it still resonates with me. I enjoy cardmaking, scrapping, papercrafts...several years ago I discovered an online community for papercrafters and jumped in, joined the fun and quickly became caught up in the quest for comments on the pieces that I posted. I finally had to walk away completely because it was bringing out the ugly in me. If I thought a beautiful piece wasn't appreciated by my peers it could ruin my day. I now (again) craft for myself and don't share (except w/ the recipient).
The quest for another person's opinion is a noble pursuit if we are seeking Godly guidance but not okay if we are seeking to fulfill an earthly desire for glory, fame (in our own circles) and acceptance. It is another version of the ugly bug of comparison that can torment a person. And it is a lesson that is finally hitting home with.
I enjoy reading blogs, many like yours feed - me so take heart! but instead of a comment I usually give praise to God for the gifts you use to make my day better. Your thoughts today can help many women, blogger or not, we all have a desire for acceptance - whatever form it takes but it is still a form of bondage. Maybe today a few others will step free because of your honesty.
blessings,
Sonia

Meredith from Merchant Ships
Reply October 8, 2009

Just wanted you to know I understand completely! I had to step away for a while in order to come to the same conclusion.

the scooper
Reply October 8, 2009

Amen. Like you, I started a blog (not my current one) to show pictures of my babies to far-away families and friends. Then I started a blog to just write about whatever (clueless about the hugeness of the blogosphere.) Then some comments began to trickle in. Then I added a sitemeter. And I did begin to care about numbers and popularity and comments. And after a while, I felt like I had journeyed far from home. Thankfully, I feel like I'm back to my blogging roots...posting more about family and more about the stuff of my heart. A furniture rehab or favorite recipe may show up every now and then. I quit fretting over whether I'm a niche blog. I think Emily quoted someone who encouraged us to simply write about what we're passionate for, not what we feel obligated to post. How freeing! I'm a much happier blogger. I wish I had more time to keep up better with my favorite blogs or to post more than once a week...but I think it's probably best for now that I don't. On any given day, it can be an idol again. {Sorry for all the rambling! I just really echo and affirm your thoughts here.}

Kelly
Reply October 8, 2009

Ohhhh... sorry I missed this yesterday! You're incredible, you know it? Maybe I'll just quit blogging and have you talk for me. ;-) Thanks for being you, for having the courage to be you in spite of it all. I get that. I really get that.

BlueCastle
Reply October 8, 2009

It's hard, isn't it? without comments I feel like that girl on the playground, being chosen last for soccer. The insecurity and feeling stupid. I once wrote, what I thought, would be my best post, poured my heart out, chose every word carefully.......and no one said a word. That was hard for me. And it brings me to what you are saying - why do I blog?
I found your blog through The Mother Letter project, but I honestly wish I had found you earlier. I love coming here and the way you make me think. The way you use words to write is breathtaking. Your honesty and your passion for Christ is what I keep coming back to read about.

Jennifer
Reply October 8, 2009

Amber, I along with so many others, know just how you feel. But isn't it so wonderful that these 'numbers' don't matter... they simply don't matter. He isn't counting, He isn't keeping track, He loves us all the same!! We can all take comfort in that.

Megan@SortaCrunchy
Reply October 8, 2009

TOTALLY. TOTALLY get this.

I actually did what Seth suggested for Lent last spring. I turned off comments and didn't look at stats. At all. I didn't blog if I didn't feel like blogging. It was totally liberating. Very, very, very. I may do it again next month just for fun.

Anyway, I wish I had some awesome insight to add, but I don't. I just get it, too.

Holley
Reply October 8, 2009

Thank you, beautiful Amber. I've been thinking of this lately too. Pondering things like "influence" with a little "i" and how to use all we've been given to build the Kingdom and encourage His daughters. I think as long as this makes uneasy, that we take all that comes our way with trembling hands and whisper quietly, "What would You have me do with this?" then our hearts are where they should be. Yours is, sweet girl, you serve up words to hungry hearts like a good Southern cook in her kitchen. Thank you for feeding my soul today (and so many others). Love to you...

Ann Voskamp@Holy Experience
Reply October 8, 2009

Sage, luminous community gathering here.
Thank you for the humble privilege of quietly listening and learning...

Indebted,
Ann

Kiki
Reply October 9, 2009

I just read this today. And you said what I've been thinking. Not that I have a big readership but I have coveted it. Oh, have I.

But I did start it for family far away. And that is what it still is. And I'm good with that. Today. It's a struggle.

Hallie
Reply October 9, 2009

Dear Amber,

I'm actually finding myself distracted by all the giveaways and blah, blah, blah.

I happened upon your blog sometime last year, and I have been reading BECAUSE of your poetry/poetic musings. I'm starting to feel like you're just selling me stuff, and I'm just not as interested.

I'm telling you this because I miss you. NOT to make you feel bad. Truly. But the very things you miss about your blog I miss about your blog.

Love, Hallie.

Muthering Heights
Reply October 9, 2009

I hear you, sweetie!

Sarah@EmergingMummy
Reply October 9, 2009

I think I've gotten more out of this post's comments than anything I've read in my Reader all week. Thank you to all of you.

Blessings.

Jen@Balancing Beauty and Bedlam
Reply October 11, 2009

Oh Amber - your post and all these comments strike so many cords in a variety of ways, both things with which I agree and disagree. If I stop to ponder through them, I wouldn't be doing what I need to do right now....going and being a mommy. We'll just have to dialogue about this in person...at Blissdom. :)

So I leave...thinking and flushing through this some more (especially since I have just switched from blogger to WP and have lost all my subscribers in the process...this post comes at a good time.)

Jane Anne
Reply October 12, 2009

Oh Amber, I needed this tonight. I had an Anonymous commenter write tonight that my blog used to inspire daily but now it is sooo boring. What do I do with that? I keep thinking- I didn't start my blog for others. I started it for me. Sometimes I write thoughtful posts and sometimes I don't. Still, the comment is gnawing at me. I'm trying to let it go. And now I am going to re-read this post because I need these words.

Minnesotamom
Reply October 15, 2009

Last April, after a year and a half of blogging, I looked at the expectations I had placed upon myself in order to "gain readers." Post every day, whether I had anything to say, whether I enjoyed it, or not. And I realized that no one cared about these things, save myself. So I stepped back from the pressure. Now I blog for me, for family and friends, and for the few constant readers who make my little space on the Internet what it is. My daily hits have dropped to about half of what they were, but no matter. I still enjoy reading the "big name bloggers," but I have no desire to keep up. It is very freeing.

rhemashope
Reply October 15, 2009

amen. sister.

annieology
Reply October 18, 2009

I love it when the husbands suggest we turn of the stat counters. If men blogged their stats would be broadcast in HD in Times Square. lol

I used to think I had to write something, anything or people would forget about me, recently I've decided that I'm only putting up stuff I love and more people have shown up. Just a gentle reminder that we don't have to settle for less.

Also, I will always blog because occasionally someone will write me and tell me they went back to church to see if they could meet the God that I talk about. So, totally worth it to me.

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