The search for a distraction-free home to think and write

We all need dreams to give us a jolt. To move us to action.

A dream job will remain a dream unless we step up and go for interview.

The body shape you desire has to be earned through sweat and resisting food.

However, dreams can end ambition, as they did for my writing.

I love writing though grew to dread it. No matter how often I trained myself to ignore the statistics, the chase for likes and comments became tiresome.

I dreamed of thousands of views, dozens of comments and a successful blog, whatever success means.

If I avoided the numbers , the technology still trapped me.

Hello WordPress

When I discovered WordPress it sounded like magic, and it was.

I created my website without a developer, then painted it in colours. All I had to do was watch my child blog grow into an adult.

Before my writing got a chance to develop I was distracted by the get-rich-quick bloggers who insisted you had to publish morning, noon and night.

Being an introvert, creating a website to publish articles was a big deal. WordPress made it happen. WordPress was like a toy. I played daily with design, tweaks, then redesign.

Creating a website that works is time consuming. Unlike developers, you need to rely on plug-ins for customisation. The list of 'to-dos' was endless:

  • Social sharing, including the ubiquitous click to tweet
  • SEO
  • Featured images to RSS
  • Page builders for smart looking landing pages
  • Security
  • Subscriber calls to action
  • Dealing with spam spam spam spamity spam
  • Backups
  • Link management
  • Backend maintenance

The list could go on.

Having a self-hosted website is like looking after your home. You have cleaning (updating), DIY maintenance (adding code snippets) and calling on handymen for tasks (subscription software).

Experimenting with software packages stole time from what I wanted to do.

All I wanted to do was write. Write for my sanity.

Chasing numbers, email subscribers and fuelling automated tweets took me down the wrong path.


Goodbye WordPress, Hello Medium

Medium.com was a breath of fresh air.

Medium provided a clean writing space without the technology woes. With Medium there was no excuse but to write; or was there?

Medium takes away the tech related hassle but adds social comparisons in its place.

There is the writing community, placing an onus on commenting on each others posts - with the option to turn a comment into a blog post. Probably to the annoyance of the article's writer.

You can write for publications - magazine style blogs with thousands of readers. Some of my posts attracted tens of thousands of readers while posts under my profile attracted a dozen or a hundred.

To avoid likes Medium gives you an applause button - you can give an article up to 50 claps.

There's the Medium partner programme which gives writers some monetary compensation based on an algorithm, claps and some overall secret sauce. Hey, I started to earn a little, which was nice.

But Medium can make the solo blogger feel out of place. Without a large following or being part of a publication, you begin to wonder why you're on the platform.

Medium’s terms state that by posting, I grant Medium a non-exclusive license and the freedom to use my material.

You are there for Medium.

While many writers re-post their articles from their own webspace, using Medium as your web home is insecure. It can be fantastic for some, but if memory serves, Medium closed down the option to use custom domains, making it less attractive.

Medium began as a force for growing writers then became a publishing house for professional publications. The founding principles had changed.

Nothing wrong with that but it gave me an inferiority complex, or strengthened the one I had.

On the verge of quitting the blog I stared at the screen night after night until I hit the delete button.

OK, truth be told, I hit the export button, then the delete one.

I thought that was it. Finished with writing and self expression.

Finished with straightening out my thoughts through electronic pen and paper.


Writing is Expression

After a year went by, I missed writing. I missed working out my thoughts and beliefs, as they are today. I have opinions and need to express them.

The idea behind Say It With The Light On is freedom of expression without fear of recrimination or heaven forbid, alternative opinions vying for dominance.

My guiding principles are to be sincere and avoid offence, where possible. Tolerance is key - I don't believe in holding to a fixed viewpoint since views and opinions evolve throughout one's life.

Writing is a freedom, of creativity and independence of thought. It is unjust if I permit a lack of self-belief, few claps or a flat stats graph to suffocate the freedom.

Life is a journey, our views and opinions change over time and so they should. Afterall, the alternative is stagnation.


The Road Less Svbtle

The seed was planted.

On the bus to work, out of the blue, I googled minimalist blogging platforms. I found a list published by cmscritic.

I knew platforms like Svbtle, having considered them before Medium. But this time I mean it. No technological learning curve, no chasing views, no pressure. I want to write, put my view out to the world, satisfied in the knowledge someone at some point in time might read something.

Write.as was an option however, as I found myself reading its online guides to getting started, going public versus private, their community, how to use Snap.as to host images etc. I realised it's minimalist, with a plan for complexity.

Silvrback, a Svbtle with bells and whistles, aligns itself with developers in mind. Silvrback offers value for money but the original creator, Damien Sowers, sold Silvrback in 2015. Not a sign of confidence.

Something about Svbtle chimed with me. Svbtle offers a place to log ideas, develop them, write and publish. No distractions prior to publishing or after.

Svbtle is simple to set up and a beautiful space. Despite being long past the fanfare of its arrival, competing with Medium and Ghost, Svbtle continues to deliver a solid platform the same way it did in 2011.


So why am I here?

Svbtle is like a house with the lights out. I respect privacy and writing can be a solitary affair. But with Svbtle there's been no noise for several years. The concierge didn't reply to my emails about HTTPS and it appears to have lost its energy in the wake of Medium.

Ghost is minimalist or complex, whichever you need it to be. I have watched Ghost develop over recent years from a Content Management System alternative for bloggers to a broader enterprise.

The introductory pages state Ghost is not necessarily a good platform for beginners or people who just want a simple personal blog - oops.

I'll take the risk.


Happy to discuss