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 🙂