The path to achieving blog mastery is not straight.
Similarly, Zen cannot be explained in words. Much of it must be grasped through intuition, practice and then on to awareness.
A Zen master inspires his student to do his best to discover a knowledge he already has – in his soul. He isn’t someone who teaches something. He helps his students learn through experience, rather than lecturing or doing endless demonstrations.
Blogging is intrinsically the same. To learn it, you study those who have walked the path before you. But to truly understand it you cannot be taught; you must experience it.
However, our overachieving Western minds are trained to be overly analytical.
We over-think our blogging, all the while struggling for rapid progress and the conscious achievement of mastery; when in reality the path should lead to unconscious competence.
Just let it happen, echoes in my head. It’s a Zen thing.
So they say.
How exasperating, *taps foot*
More impossible contradictions lay ahead of me. The truth I needed to find was my inner blogger.
The answers lay within me. The rest was just details. More Zen things.
Paradox is an intrinsic part of Zen thought and teachings; life is simultaneously empty and full, easy and hard.
Hmmm. I don’t think I’ll ever get it …
Guts not glory
I’ve experienced many Zen moments while struggling to master the blogging genre.
At first, their nature was a mystery to me. I didn’t realise blogging actually could be Zen.
I routinely struggled, swam, drowned and fought my own blogging demons. But like a koan, my issues could not be solved by reason or intellect. They needed the slow comprehension that only comes from a certain kind of personal … experience.
Sadly I still don’t have the enlightenment of a Zen master. Nor am I a student of Zen principles per se – more aptly a traveller crossing the oceans of life using many different boats. I still have worries, troubles and stresses, and aspire to be good at my craft.
However the slow resolution of my blogging koan forced me to understand it on a different level – with an altered, simpler comprehension.
With a Zen approach, I have managed to simplify my struggle for mastery. When I mindfully blog, ideas gently rise and cling to the surface. And I edge closer to my passion.
Sit and consider
Turning over my thoughts like smooth stones, what have I learnt?
For me a Zen approach now typifies my blogging mindset.
With nods to the poet William Blake, it’s about “seeing the world in a grain of sand” – grasping the macro in the micro things – and finding vast truths in the smallest of things.
Some may call it navel gazing. Really, it means don’t sweat it.
Whenever you close your eyes and reflect on what you’ve done to your blog – or intend to do – you have in a way, practised a Zen approach. Or try sitting beside yourself and considering your blog from a distance – instead of inside your head.
It’s reminding yourself that experience is your master. And that the paths to mastery are many, but the end of them all is one.
Bend not break
The quote “I bend and do not break” from fabulist Jean de la Fontaine epitomises the Zen blogging approach. It fits perfectly.
You have to get through and past the things that aren’t working – aren’t getting you where you want to be – and try something else, without breaking yourself in the process.
My premise on blogging is now a simple one. Cultivate your blogging habit like a Zen garden – spare and simple – but taking the same form as water; super strong yet lithe and flexible. Bend and curve to the lay of the land.
That means going with the flow rather than trying to rationally orchestrate everything.
However, it doesn’t mean being non-caring or non-productive. In Zen terms it could be called nonattachment. It’s the conscious release of control over the outcome of your blogging.
Rather than grasping and clinging to it, be respectful of it.
Adapt and adopt
Seemingly, blogging has so many rules – on length, posting, traffic, subscribers, comments and design it can become an obsession in perfection, instead of a passionate pursuit.
Self-set challenges are constantly created; to achieve a ridiculously high standard, for success.
Yet Zen is very simple. It’s more of an attitude, than a belief. It values experience and intuition above slavishly studying the rules and following them. Is this where blogging and Zen came unstuck for me?
No, it didn’t. Because those aren’t rules, blogging has none.
Write your own rules. Adopt, adapt and create your own; then you’ll find your own Zen path to blogging mastery.
These are my 10 ways of following a Zen blogging path:
Think (without ego)
1. Get over yourself
Focus on having a blog that serves your readers. It shouldn’t be great for just you.
2. Stay humble
Unfortunately humility is often a rarity online; cultivate its growth and spread. Be modest, thankful and share your wisdom – especially the small.
3. Perfection is wasteful
Too much time, energy and spirit goes into chasing this elusive will-o’-the-wisp; it doesn’t exist. Imperfection is your uniqueness made visible. Follow that path instead.
Be (without attachment)
4. Give useful information
Blogging and the digital world is all about sharing, giving and being useful to others. If you aren’t giving something, then what are you doing blogging anyway?
5. Ideas are free
Freely give ideas – because nobody owns them. The difference between an innovator and innovation is execution, so whoever executes the idea, owns it. If you’re not going to execute it, then help another by sharing. The more you share, the bigger the spirals of creativity grow.
6. Be more than
Readers return if their bowl is overflowing with your valuable information. Be generous of spirit with your giving; inhabit the width as well as the depth.
Create (write and release)
7. Highlight others
Be generous in your sharing of the spotlight. Shine the light on someone in your community. Reflected glory is far more satisfying than five minutes of hollow fame.
8. Lessons learned
Experience is always a stronger path for learning than just observation. If you’ve done something, created something or failed at something, let your readers know. Share what you’ve learnt and show that you’re real.
9. Around the hearth
We are all teachers because we talk in stories. Those stories create circles that link us together. Create them to educate, entertain or engage – choose one or all three.
10. Let it go
Don’t hold on to it; let the universe choose its path.
Blogging can be Zen.
Believe in yourself, keep showing up, focus on what you can control and strive to be the next YOU.
If you create your own path and do it for the love of the genre, you will achieve mastery.
Experience guarantees it.
What about you? Do you agree? What are your ways of achieving mastery?