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The Habit of Hiding and Breaking a Promise

By Jessica Albon

Hello darling! It has been 6 months since my last published email newsletter. Sure, I’ve been here writing for you. But, I haven’t been appearing in your inbox.

So, where have I been? Making professional website design for new sites, helping clients launch newsletters, or get started publishing newsletters in html. Website redesigns galore! Writing website copy. Along with about a dozen monthly newsletter writing projects.

But though I’ve been busy taking great care of fabulous clients… I’ve also been hiding. See, I’ve written oodles of blog posts (many long hand) and created some fantastic content for the site (like the currently unpublished Treatise Against Transparency). And I haven’t made very much of it available for you. Because I’m a chicken, sure. But also because I’ve gotten so exhausted by my high levels of output–copywriting, new designs, redesigns, articles, websites, sales pages, products…–that I had to hide out and stop producing my own stuff in order to keep up. And, because I can’t *actually* stop writing for you, I just slowed down the pace of publishing it.

Unfortunately, what began as a much-deserved break became a habit. I got used to writing blog posts and not pushing publish. I got accustomed to not sending a newsletter out to you. I got in the habit of hiding out. And it’s time for me to break that habit.

One thing I’m noticing about my business right now is that I’m burned out partly because I’ve made (and kept) a lot of promises–mostly promises that no one but me cares much if I keep. For instance, many years ago I promised to publish a regular blog and newsletter. And I’ve become aware that it’s time to officially cancel that promise. To say, for the time being that when it comes to a blogging/ezining/writing/publishing commitment: I make no promises. Going forward, my ideal is to share great stuff with you as I’m inspired. But I don’t know how often that will be. (Though, hopefully, it will be more often than the once-a-month pace I’ve been eeking out…)

Because you’ve been with me awhile, I know you’re here because you like my style. You’re here because you like *me*. So, I trust you’ll stick around because *I’m* not changing other than setting aside this habit of hiding.

How about you? Have you gotten into a habit of hiding?

UPDATE: Leslie asked in the comments about how to stop hiding out, and honestly, I’m not entirely sure what advice to give. I think it’s especially easy to fall into the habit of hiding from social media/online writing/sharing because it’s not a life-or-death part of your day or of running a business (like bookkeeping, I mean). If you have tips, please feel free to share them in the comments. For me, here are a few things that have helped in the past:

  • Let go of perfectionism. When it’s been “too long” since I’ve last been in touch, I get really caught up in wanting to make sure I get my first communication just right. Which equals more delays. In fact, I have several half-started “Where I’ve Been” posts from the last few months and if I had my druthers, I would have spent more time refining and polishing this one. But, ultimately, I realized that I really just wanted to reconnect with you and that I didn’t need to say the exactly right thing in exactly the right way.
  • Focus on the goal. In this case, my goal is to be back in touch with you and to write here again. So, that’s where I kept my focus.
  • You don’t have to make any promises. One of the reasons I waffled on some of my earlier posts was that I knew I wasn’t ready to start blogging regularly again, and I felt like I needed to wait until I was. But, what I finally realized today was that I could say hello without needing to make any big promises. So, that’s what I did.

So, those are three things that worked for me. I’d love to hear what works for you, too!



Leslie Oct 28, 2010

I’ve definitely been hiding out–heck, I can’t even get my first website published–what’s the key to stopping, though?

Meg Oct 28, 2010

Yay Jessie–so glad you’re back. I’ve missed reading your posts here!

Leslie Oct 28, 2010

Sorry–meant: what’s the key to not hiding out anymore. Wish I could edit my comment, but not seeing that possibility.

Felicia Oct 28, 2010

Jessica! I’m so thrilled you’re back–I’ve missed you terribly. I don’t have much trouble hiding out–I’m an actress and spend so much time getting out there that it’s become second nature to me, but I think we all have cycles when we feel a little quieter and with all the work you’ve been doing, it’s no wonder you haven’t felt quite up for writing here on top of it all. I think that’s my big secret–to not label it hiding out, but to just see it as fallow time, a break between creative cycles. Sometimes a simple reframe makes all the difference.

Hope you’ll be back real soon with more great content!

Greg Oct 28, 2010

I was just talking about this issue with a client of mine–I’ll be forwarding the article. As usual, you’re right on the money. Thanks Jess!

Leslie, for me, when I find I’ve gone too long without writing, I have a colleague who challenges me (and I do the same for her) with a prompt of some kind–I find having something specific to write about usually breaks me of any stuckness I’m feeling. (Actually Jess has a great book of writing prompts that we often use–it’s something about newsletter articles, but we use it for blogging. You might want to check it out.

Pete White Oct 28, 2010

So, when are you going to let everyone else read this Treatise Against Transparency of yours? It’s astoundingly good and it really is time to release it, J.

Natalie Parks Oct 28, 2010

Oooh, Jessie… I love this. I know you and I already talked about this and how you’ve also been feeling a little unsure of your voice, but I want you to know that even when you’re not sure of yourself, I love every word of what you write. Thank you, sweetie! You’re such an inspiration to me.

Jessica Albon Oct 28, 2010

Hey guys! Thank you for the comments–I was worried no one would show up because I’d been gone for so long.

I’ve gotten a couple emails from folks wondering what to call me and since that comes up a lot both on and off line (and since almost everyone here in the comments seems to have called me something different-y’all are an eclectic bunch!), here’s the scoop. I love my name and all of the nicknames that go along with it, so feel free to call me Jessica, Jessi/Jessie, Jes/Jess, etc. Honest, I’m 100% happy with all of them. So, call me what you’re comfortable with.

And keep sharing your tips for getting out of the habit of hiding–I’m really loving those as well.