A little while back, I wrote that a beloved member of our household is suffering from a rare and incurable condition: Sudden Onset Digital Amnesia. Now I have diagnosed that I myself am afflicted with a syndrome previously unknown to Medical Science: Pre Posting Tension. As my contribution to the greater good of mankind, I will, in this post, catalogue the symptoms of this condition. If you recognise yourself as a fellow sufferer, please get in touch: we may be able to form a support blog.
A cycle of symptoms
First, realise that the symptoms come in cycles. The trigger seems to be the discovery that somebody, anybody, has linked to an article on my blog. This produces a feeling of euphoria. If the link is from a high page-rank site like DZone (thanks mswatcher!) the euphoria is elevated to near ecstasy, increasing with every up-vote received.
The excitement is short-lived, however. Soon after closing the Feedburner Site Stats window bearing the good tidings of incoming links, a great wave of worry and doubt sweeps over me. Will I be able to find material for a follow-up post? Can I again craft new and interesting phrases to describe my future subject matter? Will the visitors return? How many of them will subscribe, and how soon will they unsubscribe if the quality of posts diminishes?
Then the nervousness begins, increasing with every hour that passes unblogged. Glimpsing Windows Live Writer in my Start Menu, or the Blogger icon in my Favourites list causes me to tremble with anxiety. Every line of code written is scrutinised for post potential, every fleeting thought examined for article-worthiness. Then a plateau is reached when inspiration dawns: my mental state stabilises as words and phrases begin to congregate together in my mind.
Once fingers begin tapping keyboard, tension eases somewhat. But woe-betide anybody who interrupts, because this is when irritability sets in; concentration is total and all else is forgotten as words bed themselves into the page. If body is dragged away from the keyboard, mind remains at work - resulting in responses even shorter than the usual, manly, grunts when questioned. Internal pressure again builds up until the words get a chance to escape onto the page. Then, disaster. My train of thought comes up against a red light: the flow of words dries up. Writer's block has set in. Panic takes hold: visitor numbers will surely be dropping off by now. Only fresh content can restore them, and fresh content is held up in the sidings of my mind.
I fumble for words, and gradually the stream of thoughts begins again. The post rumbles on to completion. I check it over and over again, trying to winkle out the obvious errors that I no are lurking their. Then fresh doubt springs up. What if readers don't like it? What if I've written something senseless? Maybe it doesn't hang together. More often than not, I answer my self-doubt with Pilatean response: "What I have written, I have written", and hit "Publish", before I beat myself up any further.
Relief comes flooding over me, as the post flashes up on my blog. But what's this on my Browser Toolbar? A shortcut to Google Analytics? I wonder whether anybody's read that article yet...
My wife proof-read this, and commented that it would be amusing if it wasn't true. My protest that it was all exaggerated for effect met only with a dismissive "Puh"!
- Sic - in case it wasn't obvious from the context!