The Last Musings of an Accidental Hockey Blogger

Winging It In Motown

As you all likely know by now, it’s the end of the line for WIIM and most of our sibling NHL sites on April 1 (no foolin’). At least in their current forms. In any case, for me, this marks the end of a 7-year journey and it felt wrong to leave it without a eulogy of some sort.

But what to say? Maybe sharing a few things I’ve had to tell myself over and over that you may also need to hear, plus a few Michael Bunting jokes for old time’s sake (he would say modern time’s sake of course)…

I was never looking to be a writer. I wasn’t even a commenter. Just an avid reader of all the Wings blogs of the late 00s/early 10s including WIIM. In 2016 (I think), I made a throwaway tweet like “would anybody read it if I wrote some sort of gameday posts?” That turned into an offer from the gang here to try out writing a morning skate and now here I am seven years later.

This has never had anything to do with my “real life” goals, although I could consider it professional development. It’s just been for The Love Of The Game. I can’t say my writing has gotten “better” over the years, but it has gotten more confident and it took a lot of arguing with myself to get there.

Here are a few things that I’ve had to constantly tell myself since I started writing for WIIM. A combination of reminders, reflections, unsolicited advice, and motivational speeches:

Scared? That’s fine! Now go do it anyway.

Do they still make those No Fear t-shirts? Because “be fearless” shit is…well, it’s shit. The first post I wrote for WIIM, that aforementioned test morning skate? I was terrified. I was so sure it was the dumbest thing anyone had done in the history of the world, including when Michael Bunting drank radium coffee every day for a year on a dare in 1913.

It gets easier with experience, but I think most people are always at least a little nervous. Write what you have to say, have your panic moment, and then give yourself a “send it you coward” pep talk and hit the button. Will you regret it? Honestly, sometimes yeah. It’s all part of the process, and we around here always Trust The Process.

Enough with the self-deprecation. Be your own hype person.

I want you to take the phrase “I did a thing” and ban it from your posting vocabulary.

Stop minimizing what you’ve done. Whether you genuinely think you suck or if you’re secretly fishing for compliments, it’s time to let go of the instinct to put yourself down. You don’t need to degrade your work and check if people disagree with your negative assessment. I’ll give you a compliment for free just @ me on Twitter.

When you talk about your work, give it the energy you would use to promote a friend’s work. When your friend writes something do you say “She did a thing, it’s not that great sorry lol haha” or do you say “OMG MY FRIEND IS AMAZZZZIIINNNGGG AHHHHHH READ THIS NOW!!!”.

That’s a general rule, by the way. Send your self-talk through the friend filter. Are you pissed off imagining your best friend talking about themselves the way you talk about yourself? Stop it.

Clicks don’t define your worth and neither do the comments.

I know you know that already, but it can take real work to separate your emotional well-being from “haha click makes happy chemicals go brrrr”. Have you ever done something you’re super proud of and it seems like nobody cares and then something you spent 5 minutes on gets all the love? It’s always frustrating. But that’s just how it goes, it’s happened to everyone who has ever created content. Yes, even Bunting had a few cave paintings get ignored by archaeologists.

And I know you also know this, but you don’t have to read the comments. You don’t have to engage the trolls. You can if you want, of course, I’m not your boss, but there are a lot of roads that lead to hurt feelings from the time you hit post and you need to protect yourself from having your whole day ruined by an idiot or three.

It doesn’t matter how much attention someone else’s article got (especially if it got attention because it was inflammatory purely for the sake of getting attention.) You should be proud of yourself for doing more than most fans have in writing an article, whether it got 0 clicks or 10,000. It’s always a work in progress getting to the point where it’s enough to have completed your project. But keep aiming for it.

Again, I’m always on Twitter for a well-meaning but strange and possibly over-aggressive pep talk if you need it.

You’re qualified to talk about it. Everything is your business.

I don’t care what topic you’re thinking of. Analytics? Powerplay breakdown? Roster management? Puck Goes In The Net Jerks? Which player is actually a watermelon? Doesn’t matter, if you care about a topic then your voice is one I want to hear. I’ve written about all sorts of things that I wouldn’t consider to be in my winged-wheelhouse, but I did because I wanted to. Full stop. I’m not saying you’ll be a stats pro without doing any research. If you care about something, do the work, learn what you need to learn, say what you want to say, and share what you’ve come up with.

Like right now, who the hell am I to be spewing advice about writing? I’m helmerroids that’s who, and that’s plenty. And don’t even get me started on how being on podcasts is not playing to my strengths. It all goes back to the first point about being afraid and then doing it anyway.

Don’t change your voice. You’re here to be YOU.

When I first started at WIIM, I spent a lot of time looking at how the other writers did things and tried to model myself after them. It didn’t take long for me to find my own style, and I never got anything but encouragement in being myself. If you’ve read a few of my articles you’ll know that I keep it pretty on-brand no matter what I’m writing. Recap, preview, opinion piece, off-the-wall hypotheticals, this article…I’m guessing it’d be pretty easy to pick out a helmerroids post even if my name wasn’t on it.

“But this topic has been covered so much!” Who cares? It hasn’t been covered by YOU. If you have something to say, then you have all the reasons you need to write. I want to read your words, in your voice, direct from your unique brain. Because that’s what sincerity is and sincerity is what we need. Hockey doesn’t need your words put through an “I should sound more professional” filter. If I wanted that I would read my work emails.

In conclusion, thanks for a great run.

I don’t know what the future holds for me and if I’ll continue writing at some point or if I’ll just do my thing over on Twitter until that burns down. I do know I owe a big thank you to everyone here in the WIIM community for giving me a place to be myself and talk about the Red Wings in my own way. To find my voice and find my confidence.

It’s been an honor and a goddamn delight to be part of the family and get to yell my thoughts at all of you for so many years. If I’ve made you smile even once, then I know I’m leaving the job well done.

This is your sister in winged-wheelness, signing off.

Thank you.


Sara (@helmerroids)

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