I haven’t posted for two weeks. This is the first time in ten years that I have gone two weeks without writing a column. Really. I have a track record for continuing to write when every other sane person would take a break: I wrote a column right after I delivered a baby, I wrote a column from the admitting room of a mental ward, and I wrote a column four hours after the World Trade Center fell on me.
So you can imagine that I did not plan this blogging break. Of course, I tell people that planning a break from routine work is very important for learning. And of course, I don’t take my own advice. So, the break was accidental, but I did learn a lot. Here’s what I’ve been learning about myself.
1. I am sick of straight-up career advice.
Do you want to know what I was writing when I wasn’t writing? I wrote ten thousand random paragraphs about the farmer. I wrote about him considering dumping me for being Jewish, and me having to argue with his pastor about our interfaith relationship. And I wrote about the farmer borrowing my books about business.
Every time I wrote something that was straight career advice (like how to change departments in your company—a question people ask me a lot) the post sucked and I didn’t run it.
But at lunch—I had a lot of lunches while I was not taking time to write posts—I met with a potential investor, and he said, “I read your blog for two hours last night.” And I said, “Oh, did you get a lot of career advice?” And he said, “I read mostly the personal stuff.”
It hit me then that it’s okay for me to write personal stuff all the time. You have to write what interests you. I want to tell you that stuff that is not me is interesting to me. And it is. But only in relation to me.
2. I missed my editor.
In case you didn’t know, I have an editor for my blog. This comes from being a columnist for so long. My editors were incredible—one was from Vanity Fair, one went on to the Harvard Business Review, and they definitely made me a better writer. So I have an editor for my blog, and if you think that’s over the top, consider this: he also edits my Twitters. I mean, you can’t write about sex and investors in the same 140-character phrase and still get funding unless you have an editor to save you from yourself.
So anyway, when I am posting regularly, I talk with my editor three or four times a day. When I stopped posting, he called me to see if something was wrong. And when I said, “Yes, of course something is wrong. I have too much to do,” he changed his tune and started telling me that if I have to cut something, writing on my blog probably wasn’t the best idea. And then I snapped at him: “When someone is cutting out something they love as much as I love blogging, then you can imagine that person is really, really busy.”
The problem with being friends with someone who works for you is when you snap at him about time management issues, it’s hard for him to come back to you with something like, “You are being a brat and a bitch and I’m sure you have twenty minutes to crank out a post about how everyone should be lost in life or something like that.”
So I missed writing a lot. Every night I would tell myself, “Tomorrow I will write. I will have time tomorrow.” It didn’t surprise me that I missed writing because I’m addicted to the process of self-discovery through words. But it did surprise me that I missed my editor. Talking with someone about things that matter—like does the sentence have better rhythm with an and or an also—is a foundation for talking about everything else.
3. My traffic is mysteriously not related to my rate of posting.
On days when my blog is rocking, like when I write about transparent salaries and the New York Times quotes me and I get 200,000 page views from the intelligentsia, Ryan Healy will point out that my blog is not really a blog—it is something else—because I have the same traffic no matter how often I post.
But this is not totally true. For example I experimented by canceling my whole life and posting five days in a row, and yes, my traffic went up a bit. But only a bit. And after not posting for two weeks, my traffic only went down a tiny bit.
4. Some things don’t change. Even after a break.
Look, I’m still writing lists. Right? And I’m still telling myself that for me, blogging is mental, and if I would just take any free half-hour of the day to sit down and write what I care about, I’d have enough posts in the hopper.
And even though I spend tons of my time meeting with investors who tell me that I should use my blog as a way to plug my company, I continue to write posts about me instead of my company, and I still insist on tossing in off-color missives about the investors for good measure.
Our SEO guy, who I love, told me to use the word Generation Y in a sentence and then link to Brazen Careerist. So I am doing that now. Because I want to be a good team player. But really, I took time off from the blog to raise funding for my company, and realized that I care too much about the blog to make the company come before it. They are together. The blog is where I experiment with ideas that end up driving the company.
5. I hate my photo.
This is something I’ve learned in the last two weeks. For those of you who don’t know, I never look like my photo on my blog. First, my hair is never that organized. I try to remember back to when Yahoo had the photo taken and I don’t remember hair like that, so maybe it was never like that and it’s all Photoshop. That wouldn’t be too outlandish an assumption since my skin also never looks like that, or my lips, and it might actually not even be a photo, but a Yahoo rendition of what a photo might look like.
A British women’s magazine did an article about me and my divorce. And they asked if I had three hours to do a photo session. I was like, I don’t even have a half hour for a blog post, so I’m definitely not doing three hours of photos. Then they told me it was a famous photographer, and he takes pictures for Vanity Fair and other big magazines that I figure surely starlets demand to look great in. So I said yes.
And it paid off. Because I have new photos that actually look like me. Here they are.