Steady Pace or All Out: What Works Best?


photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc
photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc

Life is awesome around here.

Maybe too awesome?

To this, you might say, “careful what you wish for.” It’s not like I wish they’d catch Bill Bellichick with a video camera again. Or Amber Heard would wander into the Red Ventures café with a whole pizza and nowhere to sit but my lonely table for two.

I just know life is comfortable on my blog.

In fact, I’ve never had a controversial comment on Coach Daddy.

Not even a hurtful one.

What I write here does not polarize.

Am I doing something wrong?

What I write here does not polarize. I ridicule the Denver Broncos’ natural (and unnatural) rivals. I flaunt a bit my right-leaning politics.

I’m outright hostile in a carnivorous way to vegans. But the subject matter is this: Good daddy. Nice daddy.

Pleasant daddy.

Who’ll rail against that?

Do I write every post as if it’s going to be my last? Do I hold back? How often do I unfold the laptop with a grimace and attitude and words ready to bite? Would I – could I – write with heat on a subject I didn’t feel consumed to write so about?

Do I – do you guys – always write all out when you write?

It’s more questions than a month of Go Ask Daddy.

Do I – do you guys – always write all out when you write?

Would it provoke an avalanche of comments and flurry of shares? Would it precipitate a cascade of unfollows, or create a viral effect?

# # #

I once coached a midfielder who knew no other way than all out. It would be like writing every post with 19 bushels of emotion. But can you sustain a blog like that?

Shouldn’t it come from a powerful source less taxing?

To write that way – to take each turn at 150 mph – taps the reserves. And this is how this player played. All.out. Every ball, end line to end line. Even at a young age, she worried (as did her mom) that such abandon, although her nature, couldn’t maintain.

Play with that abandon because that’s who you are.

I told her not to change.

Play with that abandon because that’s who you are. When you need to, rest. Come to the sideline. Sit awhile. And when you’re ready, pour it out again.

I feel like it’s that way with writing. You can write with an air of abandon, and not burn yourself out. You can pace yourself. Toss in the guest post, the light-hearted list, and give your heart a break. Until it’s ready to pour it out again.

# # #

I also had a kid on a team who could score a penalty kick every single time. At age 6! When it came down to a penalty shootout, I knew it would come down to her.

So I put her in the fifth spot – the position, by theory, that could win the match with a well-placed kick.

Don’t you know that she never had the chance?

It’s enough of ourselves revealed, enough of ourselves concealed so that you’ll come back to read our words again.

I put the less-experienced before her, and took for granted they’d come through. They did not. Rather than follow this girl’s strength, they rushed to the front alone to sink or swim. And to the bottom of the penalty kick pool they sank.

So somewhere in that neighborhood – maybe that’s where the balance lies.

It’s where we can tap into the emotion and experience and parts of us. Those parts sit close to our core and evoke squirms from the lack of comfort. That kind of writing comes out in measured doses, self-imposed reins in place.

It’s emotional regulation. It’s enough of ourselves revealed, enough of ourselves concealed so that you’ll come back to read our words again.

How do you, writers, balance the heart-tapping and cautious approach?

Special thanks to a blogger who seems to best push those boundaries with every post, and yet keep us coming back for more words. Tamara Bowman. Read the post that inspired this, here.

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59 thoughts on “Steady Pace or All Out: What Works Best?”

  1. Do I – do you guys – always write all out when you write? Oh yes, writing! Oh my, sometimes I wish I didn’t write. Sometimes I write like a fury, but sometimes…like now, I can’t seem to do anything. I’m doing a final run through of my novel, there are some inconsistencies–I know this, but I’m floundering. What I need is a month away somewhere. On my own. Peace and quiet. But maybe even that wouldn’t work. ~sigh~

    1. Do you feel like the writing just happens when it wants to happen? I feel like because I do this for a living, I can always find something to write.

      I might not love it, but I can write it.

      Do you think if you stepped back from the book and write a blog post or two, it might re-energize you? I have a couple of ideas that might help jump-start things.

      Send me an email if you want to know more.

  2. I know this feeling, especially because I am completely out there with my name in the blogging world. Trust me there are times I wish I could say more and I just can’t because I would never here the end of it especially from my often crazy in-laws. I just do my best to balance it still, but I admit I wish often enough I was anonymous and could share even more then I do I suppose. Also definitely interested in hearing others take on this now.

    1. Yes, your name is your blog. On the plus side, it helps us to feel like we know you, the real you, Janine.

      Pretty sure your crazy in-laws (is that an oxymoron?) don’t read the CD, so this is your safe space, JH. i hope we can get a good conversation going … I definitely want to know others’ takes.

    2. Another aspect, and maybe the one that I originally had in mind, was of feeling like each post had to be a world-changer. Can we go through the motions with a post that requires less bandwidth than the deep stuff now and then?

      Can we write from deep in the well all the time, or do we have to take off a few degrees and write from somewhere much shallower?

  3. I think not having a controversial comment is good. There are some opinions that we have that I am sure if we voiced would cause controversy. Personally I keep those to myself.

    1. I’ve never written to evoke controversy, so there’s that. I think the community here is here because of things we share in common, interests, so why accentuate the places where there are divides?

      Good to know your take on this, Hilary.

  4. Oh my goodness! We must be siblings!
    I was thinking about this very topic all weekend. ALL weekend. I’ve never had a cross comment or really brought up anything remotely polarizing…I don’t like confrontation in real life and I certainly don’t want to invite here. Perhaps it’s that I’m ‘middle ground’ (with a lean to the right) and open minded enough that I don’t feel the need to voice my opinion or make a firm stance on anything. I can kinda see all sides, maybe? I dunno. Then, I do worry (as you mentioned) that what I write is a bit watered down and misses the “so what” factor. Then, I decided…but, it’s me! I can’t be anyone but me, right?
    I loved your analogies and I certainly appreciate the way you write, the inclusive way you address subjects with a positive spirit that can only come from a guy who is comfortable with who he is. Keep it up, Coach Daddy!!

    1. There have been topics that are polarizing that I wanted to tackle – the mess in Ferguson, for example – but never did. There isn’t anything I feel like I would write ugly about, except for the oakland raiders and soy burgers.

      I think if something ticked me off, I could punch out a tough post.

      I appreciate what you said about my words, Michelle. That means a lot. When I write, I want not just to tell my story – but to hear others’, too.

  5. I love the shoutout!
    I’ve only had one rude comment, and she very quickly backtracked and apologized and we became best friends. Well not that last part. The truth is, she wasn’t really a troll. Just nosy.

    I often do write all out, and I often don’t. I know that makes no sense. It’s kind of like dreams I have. Some of them are too much. Just too much. If I felt that way in waking life, I’d be.. insane. Or have a sex addiction, in the least. Some of the writing is too much too.

    It can be filtered for public consumption, but I assure you, the hard stuff is in there. Just spread out more.

    1. Wanted to surprise you with it, T-Bow.

      I remember that incident. Except for the best-friends part, of course. That would make a good lifetime movie.

      You’re right – we have to kind of keep a lid on the writing sometimes, or it would sap the soul. I can’t help dreams about Ingrid Michaelson or Amber Heard, but I can keep a rein on the writing. Or not.

      The hard stuff? Sometimes I just want to chip a chunk off it and just work on it a while, you know? Not too much.

  6. I don’t think every blog needs to be controversial… I can’t read them on a regular basis – it’s too exhausting! The blogs I regularly read (and post on) aren’t too politically charged.

    I think that writing all-out doesn’t have to equate with politically charged – it can mean writing from your heart. A heart full of compassion, family, and futbol is loads more fun to read (imho) than somebody’s sexcapades.

    1. Who can keep up that pace, right? Thought-provoking or at least laugh-inducing over overly provocative, I say.

      I think writing from your heart is the tougher of the two, because it requires more personal exploration. I can spout off about ISIS and school lunches, but if I address a demon of my own, it’s a tenser battle.

      Amen on your last sentence. I’m so glad you’re here.

  7. I like being an equivalent of bloggy junk food with an occasional healthy snack thrown in. At least that is how I see what I do most days. Hobby blogging (which is what I say I do) shouldn’t be stressful or forced.

    Certain topics will always have me go “all out” whether I originally meant to or not. Mental health is probably the biggest of those. Politics usually is another, but I I left my rantings on others’, like-minded blogs than doing my own this time around…mainly because I could not think of what to write other than a bunch of expletives 🙂 .

    1. I love that analogy! Yours is always good snacks. It shouldn’t feel like a job – nothing you enjoy doing should.

      I think those topics closest to us will elicit that all-out response. Especially when you can speak with authority and experience. It just happens as it should.

  8. The entire time I was reading this I was thinking about Tamara because I think her heart comes through in every single post she writes!!!
    I think we all have different levels – I feel like my writing is open and from the heart but I’m much more closed off with expressing my feelings/emotions than some and that comes through in my writing.
    Like you, I’ve never had negative comments or comments that blast me.

    1. She does a great job of getting heart in while keeping enough to make it through the day, doesn’t she? She inspired the post.

      It’s a balance only the writer knows …

      And I know so many bloggers dream of a shot at something like Huff Post, but when it comes, it often comes with a loss of innocence when it comes to the vitriol that comes in some comments.

      Those of us with far less readership don’t register on the troll radar very often.

  9. I didn’t get cautious with my writing until I outed myself as a blogger to my family. Now I’m more careful what things I say simply because I know they’re reading. I do sometimes get burned out with my writing, but I take a break and get back to it and things are fine again.

    1. Did they start reading then? I don’t think my family reads any more. They weren’t fans of the self-deprecation, but I was so good at it.

      Sounds like you got your own pace down, Scott. I’m long overdue for a visit, friend.

    2. I noticed I became a little more cautious when I outted myself as well. However then I realized I was missing the whole reason I blogged. Now I just give my family a 3-tissue warning

      1. I haven’t censored myself yet, but I am more cognizant of what I’m writing now. Part of the reason I outed myself, though, is so they would know my struggles with depression. It’s much easier to write about than it is to have a face-to-face discussion. At least, it is for me.

      2. It’s funny – I don’t think my family cares that I blog! I find that it goes in cycles, too. Sometimes, it’s one funny, one serious. Now, it my mood takes it whichever way.

        Is there such a thing as a four-tissue warning? I’m imagining a system like with hurricanes.

  10. i tend to use the ‘little bit of this, little bit of that’ approach. sometimes i am balls out and other times take a mild and gentle approach to the world. this is in life, as well as in writing. it works for me, i save my passionate energy for when and where i feel it is needed and let some things drift happily on by. that way it’s not too diluted.

    1. one realization i have after yours and others’ comments is that there isn’t a way to fake it. you can’t call balls out, as you said, on a topic you don’t feel that way about.

      conversely, you can’t trot through a topic that is near and dear. if it means a lot, it will show.

  11. Write like there’s no tomorrow?
    The fact that I’m not writing in my first language alone prevents me from doing so. I have to look up words and make sure the message comes across the way it needs to.

    Apart from that I am a cautious person. Even on days when I was beyond annoyed by something that the chief said or did, I kept it to myself. Even though it might have felt liberating to pour it all out and maybe get some supportive comments.

    I guess I want to be able to look at myself in the mirror and feel good about myself. Wait, what has one to do with the other..?

    1. I think we forget how admirable it is that you do that, Tamara. Because you do it so well. You write better in English than some of we Yanks.

      I think when bloggers are really forthright, it’s almost uncomfortable to read it. No one wants to read a blogger rip a spouse. red wings management, yes. But still.

      Know what I wouldn’t want? I knew a blogger who had such absolute support that she could have posted “I love clubbing baby seals!” and her followers would have hit “like” and encouraged her to “club her heart out!”

      I’d rather have honest discourse, you know? Tell me what you think.

      1. Haha, I’m with you on the seals. I’d rather visit them at Pier 39 🙂
        I think it wouldn’t hurt to let my guard down a bit sometimes without wearing kid gloves. Then again I already said too much considering that my coworkers and neighbors may read it.
        Your post was great food for thought either way!
        Thanks for the flowers on my English, as long as I have nice friends who help me out with my prepositions I’ll be fine.

      2. Meh. San Francisco.

        I think when the subject matter dictates, the kid gloves will come off. I don’t think many of my coworkers read me, if any. Glad the post made you think.

        You know the prepositions consultations will always be free, Tamara.

  12. I write from the heart. Sounds wicked lame. I do not worry too much about being controversial. I am surprised (and thankful) when I write what I think is something that will spark a debate and it doesn’t. My blog seems to be under the radar. I was just talking to a friend last night that in one way I wish I had more exposure yet I don’t have to deal with all the crazies or keeping up a certain pace/theme.

    Instead I can write what I feel and hope others to have the conversation with me.

    1. You can definitely see the heart in your writing, Kerri. Not lame at all. Think about what your blog is all about. How can you not write from the heart?

      I think when you write with the passion you do, we read and learn. There is definitely a price to fame. I’m far from knowing what it feels like to have that kind of exposure, and it’s fine with me.

      I’m glad to have the conversation with writers like you, here and at your place.

  13. I make it a point to be positive on my blog, but I do get snarky sometimes. In the past two months I have received two very rude comments from people who I do not know. I don’t know how they found me, although I suspect they are from my town. I let the comments sit for awhile, then I responded in a polite manner – which took a great deal of effort.

    I put a lot out there, but not everything. I’m very aware of the fact that anyone in the world could read my words, and they are important to me. I’m not selfish with them, but I’m careful.

    1. I think when your snark emerges, we know it’s for good reason, Dana. Were the rude comments on the same post? It’s a shame, because I feel I would batter a rude commenter mercilessly with wit, if only they come.

      I think we all know what our boundaries are with what we share, don’t you think? I also feel that way about comments. Generally, unless it’s against dodgers fans or vegans, I don’t make much fun of people.

      I’m glad you’re not selfish with your words. You’ve been an influence on me and what I do as long as I’ve been doing this. Thanks for that.

      1. The feeling is mutual, Eli – thank you! No, the rude comments were on separate posts. And I decided to lay off the snark I so wanted to write, because both obviously misinterpreted it in my post. No sense of humor, those two.

  14. I just write whatever comes to my mind on the subject but since english isn’t my native language I do have to be careful and make sure what I write makes sense. But it gets easier with time 🙂

  15. I often struggle with what I write and what I end up posting is rarely the “all out”. Call it fear or inadequacy; I worry about hurting or offending my family or someone else if I share their story or their grief, even anonymously. But I’m still writing and maybe, with time, I’ll lose my inhibitions. Guess we’ll see…

    1. There are definitely words that get to the screen but don’t make it to publish. It’s especially tricky when the words are someone else’s story.

      I think you’ll find that comfortable space between the two, Jenn. I think you’re well on your way.

  16. I say what I want, and how I want to say it. My life just doesn’t have a lot of drama. I am pretty laid back. My heart comes out more in my poetry, than in a blog post I guess — but not everyone is into poetry so that doesn’t always end up on my blog. If I had something that was burning in my heart and I wanted to share it – I just would. My stories are slowly becoming more and more personal, at a pace I feel comfortable revealing.
    But yeah, basically Life is beautiful and good! So my blog is pretty much just my shiny, happy place to have fun.

    1. I feel like of all the bloggers I know, you’re one who is right up there in that comfort level of sharing and not oversharing, knowing the limits, and probably not being predisposed to drama helps that.

      I agree with the pace. And I think the more personal, the more appealing a blog can be. I didn’t know that at first. I wanted to stay out of the way, but you can’t, of your own writing. You’re in it. You ARE it.

      Your blog is a good, shiny place. With good snacks.

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