When Writing Becomes Stressful

Recently, I read a post by Michelle that shocked me because of how much I related to it. That post essentially said that even when you want to write, you sometimes don’t and one of her reasons was that she was scared. Whilst there are other reasons why I’m finding writing difficult right now, the notion of being afraid and not understanding why struck a note with me because it was putting into words what I’d felt for months.

Most of my friends know that writing is what keeps me going a lot of the time. Blogging and broadcasting my thoughts is a point of stability for me, where sentences and emotions can flow out of my head and onto something tangible. It’s said to “come naturally” but of late, words don’t have the same impact. I often feel trapped in my own head, despite desperately wanting to write, but not finding the right way to express that. For someone who is sustained my words and dreams, it feels like a huge blow that it just doesn’t seem to be cathartic for now.

Here comes the fear that felt so relatable when I read Michelle’s thoughts. I constantly compare my present self to my past self, where I have this idea in my head that I need to act exactly the same as past Elm did. That is, I become afraid when my thoughts about writing and the way I write drastically change. The fear also comes from disappointing people: I’m scared that if I don’t write, my “one” talent will be gone; I’ll just be wasted and no-one will ever want to read my words again because they’re different; they’re not like how they were. I think this ties into the pressure that most bloggers face, where a change of style causes worry that your readers won’t read any more. Of course, your blog is yours but at some point, the wish for people to like your content can win out and engulf you, making you scared when that content transforms.

It’s also that I’m afraid that the posts I do write won’t come out right. I hold myself to an unbelievably and sometimes unreachable high standard, where I think that everything has to fit together nicely and that I’m not good anymore if that standard slips. That “standard”, though, is massively subjective and change doesn’t mean getting worse. However, I still have that nagging feeling that my content will be unoriginal. Because of that, I lock myself into a circular argument, where I’m paranoid that I won’t write anything decent so I don’t write but then I think that makes me a failure and that I’m incapable of writing, etc, etc. It continues until I don’t know if I’m telling myself the truth or not.

A relevant example is two posts which I’ve been meaning to write for a week and a half and three days, respectively. The first was a recap and update post on how my Austria trip, with two of my friends, went (it was absolutely breathtaking, by the way); the second was a post on my Prom experience on Monday (also fantastic and it taught me a lot about my own personal limits). I’ve not written either of them. As time went by and the days stretched out, I felt guilty and almost ashamed of the fact that I’d not got it done. Who was I if I couldn’t write these important posts? Would I slowly start to share less and less of my life, until I didn’t at all? That genuinely distressed me.

The reality is, I built up those posts into a huge block of “YOU MUST DO THEM NOW” inside my mind. They became benchmarks of my writing: if I could write those lengthy, update-like posts, I was dedicated. I was good. However, I started to get really panicked about writing the actual posts. Though I wrote outlines (they’re still on my computer), every time I thought about sitting down and putting my words onto a screen I just felt upset. Why? Why would I feel upset when what I was writing about made me happy?

Was it just that it was too much work? Does my inability to put that much effort into a post make me lazy? Am I then worse than everyone else because I don’t do enough? These kinds of questions kept going round and round in my mind, poisonously, until I couldn’t bare to sit down and write them.

There’s this unpleasant point that you can get to where you think that people will abandon you if you don’t do a certain thing. It’s happened to me a few times over the last 3 years but never has it invaded my life so harshly. It surprised me: I always tell people that “your blog is your own” and “only write when you feel like it” but I’ve not been following my own advice. I took the thing I adored and made it into something pressurising, the act of “failure” that isn’t even failure turning into this monster and couldn’t, and can’t, shake. It’s upsetting simply because I want to follow my own words. Right now, I’m not.

I think I need to step back a bit. Writing has become so stressful that I’ve warped it in my own head; it feels too draining. I need to reconnect with why I’m passionate about it and I think that actually comes from not writing, only for a small while. I’m putting myself under too much pressure, when it’s not necessary; I’m done with school and work-related pressure shouldn’t be a feature of my summer.

This only means that I need to evaluate how I approach blogging and how I approach writing. I want to be as honest as possible here; this whole thing has been increasing over the last few days, making me unsettled and more irritable, less responsive to people and generally a bit of a bitch. I don’t want to hide that side of me and I think that I need to think about why writing is important to me, without forcing myself to write. I may have wanted to write about happy, positive experiences but I built that up to a stressor in my head, which turned the writing of the posts into some kind of negative force.

I’ve always loved writing but I think the expectations I set myself are too high. I can’t write if I’m not confident in the effect my words will have on me. It’s neither fair on me or you: I don’t want my worry to shine through in my words all the time.

I just need to relax, really. Writing isn’t a chore or a necessity. It’s something I do when I want but most importantly, it isn’t my enemy.

From Elm 🙂

24 thoughts on “When Writing Becomes Stressful

  1. Can i just say though,you have a wonderful writing voice and everything yoou write is so cohesive and beautiful ❤ I hope you can earn to love writing again, becaue you're amazing, and don't feel pressurised to write anything. x

    • Ahhhh you’re so right. Because I admire you, that means SO much. How are you so wonderful?? THANK YOU!!! I’m trying not to feel pressured, as much as I can! xx

  2. I think you’re on the right track. Focus on yourself and your relationship with writing but keep in mind that your writing changing isn’t a bad thing. It means you’re growing. The more you write, the more it’ll change.
    Also keep in mind that readers’ tastes change too. You can’t please everyone and I don’t think anyone is going to hold it against you. If they do, well, that’s their problem.
    Best of luck.

    • Ahhh, thank you so much – I needed to hear that. I often forget that change isn’t a bad thing and you’re so right about reader’s tastes changing also!! Thank you xx

  3. Even reading this post and understanding it most importantly lol – I don’t really get why you would get stressed about writing, whatever you write, someone will like it, you have a pretty amazing audience (if I can cal it that) and we love you for who you are and whatever you write will be totally ok, we’ll like it so don’t stress out about it. Also, we’re all friends here, we’ll supportcha!!
    I related SO MUCH when you said if you wrote something new or wrote with a different style, the people who read you, wouldn’t anymore, I’ve been a little afraid of that. I guess you have to try sometimes and see how it turns out, as long as you have nothing to loose…
    I wanted to comment on something else but I can’t remember what it was, hehe

    Omg you went to AUSTRALIA?! You’re so lucky!!! For how long did you go? Did you have fun? Argh omg

    I loved this post!!!

    • ANAAAA THANK YOU SO MUCH, you’re so right!! You’re right about my audience too – they are so wonderful and supportive (you included!). I’m so lucky to have people around me like you. Yeah, it’s scary about the changing styles; I’m still trying to remember that’s okay.

      It was Austria but YAAAS IT WAS SO GOOD!!! We went for a week and I had such fun – we went to a festival, saw museums and it was so great!! Have you gone on holiday this summer (hang on have you broken up from school yet?)

      • NO PROBLEM ELM!!!!!!! Awwww thank you, you’re also one of the most supportive people I’ve ever known!!
        It’s totally ok to change styles, mostly if you actually want to, you only live once I guess lol
        Omg Austria I’m so stupid I usually get things the wrong way omg lol I’ve never been to Austria, it must be very nice! Glad you had a good time!
        And yep, I’m on holidays right now, we’re not really going anywhere but I don’t know if you know we already went to Berlin yaaaay

      • Oh YES!!!! How was it?? 🙂 I LOVE Berlin – I went there last summer! And nahhh don’t worry about it, I always get things mixed up 😛
        Ahhh, thank you!! Changing styles is just a natural part of life, right? 🙂

      • It was great, we were really tired in the end cause we walked a lot but it was really fun and we had many cool experiences!!! And you went there last summer? How was it?

      • YESSS walking is tiring but I’m so happy that you had a good time!! And I LOVED IT, the city is fantastic! xx

  4. First of all, your blog is WONDERFUL and I can’t seem to stop myself from reading it all. Its amazing because reading your blog makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time. The way you write is great and I am going to go and devour your other hundreds of posts…

    • *screams*
      *LITERALLY SCREAMS*
      OHMYGOD THANK YOU SO MUCH I CANNOT I spent a while yesterday fangirling over your writing style so to have you compliment my blog is just,,,,, THANK YOU AAA!!! That means so much! Don’t read all the posts – there are over 600 of them so it’d take you years??? But THANK YOU!!
      P.S: I sent you an email last night and I’m not sure if it went through. TBH it was a weird screeching email so it would be a blessing if it didn’t go through 😛

  5. Hey writing is something you love and it should bring happiness whenever you write 🙂 Write write write freebirdie…. Plus you have a beautiful writing style 🙂

  6. I do really like how you write, I dont know how to describe it but it feels like you are directly talking to me and i have known you for years.
    I totally get what you mean, you need to figure some stuff and get back into loving writing / blogging.

    • Exactly – I’ll try not to pressure myself. And THANK YOU, that means so much!! I’m really happy that you think so highly of my writing! xx

  7. OH BLOODY GOODNESS. OMG OMG. I CAN’T BELIEVE THE TIMING OF THIS BECAUSE I’VE BEEN FEELING EXAAACTLY THE SAME TOO!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Is it some sort of bug that is affecting a group of people in the blogosphere? I honestly don’t know!!😛
    I feel super stressed about writing and whenever I think about my blog, I get scared/ fidgety and shut it down right away. I swear I have a half written post on draft that says, ” My bond with my blog seems to be deteriorating. OH GOD. No What is happening”… I hope it passes soon.
    Thank you so much for sharing this because it so damn relatable. Aaaahhh
    Xxxx

    • Ughhh SAME IT IS SO UPSETTING!!!! 😦 I just want to be able to write!! I think it IS affecting a lot of us…. which is weird. AAAA!!! xx

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