A few weeks ago, I was chatting with a friend of mine about my blog, planning posts, trying to come up with new ideas, etc. While we were talking, I explained something that I had been feeling, but wasn't much interested in actually saying: I wasn't writing for myself anymore. I found myself becoming very concerned with how many readers I was getting. And with that in mind, I began focusing more on what I felt would get more readers than what I actually wanted to write. And it wasn't as though I was suddenly getting a huge wave of readers by changing my focus. If anything, I had less and less readers. And I found myself feeling incredibly unhappy and discontent.
So I stepped back.
Since I was a young girl, writing has been a dream. It has been a goal. But I had a crippling fear of letting others read my writing. I was terrified of how they would judge my writing. I was terrified that they would tear it apart and make me feel silly for even wanting to be a writer. I didn't go to school to be a writer. I did take a creative writing course in high school (which was one of my favorite courses) and I of course had traditional English classes. But after high school, I didn't take writing courses in college or anything like that. So who was I to try to dive into the world of writing? (That, of course, is my anxiety talking)
I would talk about this with my sister who has, through my entire life, encouraged me to follow that dream and do what I need to do to make it possible. So when I was scared to share my writing, she suggested starting a blog. It would be a good way to introduce myself to having others read my work.
It took me at least a year to actually follow through and start a blog.
I was scared. I had a few drafts that I wanted to be absolutely perfect before I shared them. But I never shared them. Finally, I told myself to just do it. Just write something and share it. And so I forced myself to write something, anything, every single day and publish it. I forced myself to share it on social media. I also didn't let myself edit a single thing. I just wrote it up and shoved it out into the world for all to read.
It was terrifying at first, but in time it got easier. And now here I am years later writing on an entirely different platform and sharing my thoughts and words without hesitation. Which, of course, is wonderful. It feels good to be much more comfortable and confident in my writing. But as I explained before, then I became obsessed with what kind of readership I was gaining. Which turned into "what do people want to read about?" And my writing became less about my love and more about everyone else.
Don't get me wrong, there is a certain importance to writing about things that interest others. But it's when I put everyone else's interests above mine that it became a problem. I found myself making empty promises.
"I'll write about ___ this month."
But when I was doing my reading and research and planning my writing, I was exhausted. It wasn't what was in my heart at the moment. Yes, it may be something that I find important or interesting, but it wasn't what I really wanted to write about.
When I was talking to my friend about this struggle I was having, I explained that I found I was writing what I thought others wanted to read rather than what I wanted to write. He said something along the lines of, "yes, but isn't that all writing? Writing what others want to read?"
It was suddenly crystal clear to me.
For me, writing isn't about the readers, as much as I love you all. For myself, writing is more like a compulsion. It's something I need to do. It's something that helps when I'm anxious, it's something that helps when I'm depressed, it's something that quiets my mind when it gets too loud, it's something that helps me pour my heart out when it feels filled to the brim and ready to overflow, it's something that feels like a breath of fresh air, it's something that feels like an all encapsulating hug, it's something that helps me feel the most like myself.
Writing has been my one true love since I learned how to write. For others, I have no doubt that writing has a lot to do with what others want to read and figuring that out. But for me, it's not that at all. And so I figured out why I felt so lost and unhappy.
So I took a step back. I stepped away from my blog. I made peace with the fact that I made promises that will likely go unfulfilled. And I've been focusing on myself. Getting back to what lives in my heart.
I've thought about writing this post since I first decided to step away a few weeks ago, but I really didn't feel up to it at that point. I finally felt ready to sit down and write out my thoughts and feelings. I'm not quite ready to get back into writing regular posts. I'm still not sure what I want to write about right now. But I'm also not going to force it. I'm taking my time and letting it come to me. I'm letting my heart guide me. And when I'm ready, I'll get back into all of it. But for now, I'm taking a bit of a breather, so to speak.