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 ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m Doing a Q and A – With A Twist!

Pretty much every blogger, at some point in their bloglife, will do a Q and A. Usually it’s towards the beginning, or when they get a certain number of followers.

NOW, after a year and 5 months (EXACTLY), it’s MY turn. Cue evil laughter and manic rubbing together of the hands.

It was actually a coincidence that I’m doing this on the 17 month anniversary of my blog (I only realised it was that five minutes before starting this post). I’m doing it because I’m a rebel who plays by no rules – AKA because I want to and not because I’m some hardcore rulebreaker. If I wanted to do it for a special occasion, I would have at a follower milestone or my blogiversary.

So, readers of my blog – ask me your questions!

Oh, wait. It’s not THAT simple. As much as I’d love for it to be that simple, I’m not like that. I’ve been blogging for so long that I feel like my first momentous Q and A (HAAAA) should be something special.

I want interesting questions. Questions can be weird, screwed up, or you can ask for advice if you want to. I’m not expecting an immense numberof questions because I’m not that popular, but the best questions – AKA the most interesting – will be answered first. What’s “interesting” is down to my personal judgement, and that might be skewed, so PLEASE don’t be offended if I don’t include your question.

After the answering of the most interesting questions are done, if you want me to, I’ll answer the others (unless I get like 3 questions).

Another twist for this Q and A is that if somebody asks me an interesting question and if they HAVEN’t commented much or at all on my blog before, I will:
1. Check you out (your BLOG)
2. Follow you (of course!)
3. Promote you on my blog. That can include you doing a guest post, or me writing a post about your blog. Now, that DOESN’t sound creepy.

It’s not a competition. Rather, it’s a way to discover new blogs. If you’re new to blogging, the same thing applies!

People who ask me very interesting questions will also get mentioned on here in the same way; it’s not just limited to one. I want to spread as much love and positivity as possible, and let all of you discover new blogs whilst you’re at it.

Let’s hope this doesn’t fail! Even if I don’t get that many questions, I’ll still be over the moon; you mean the world to me and you’re the best people I could hope to know. Any question you ask me will make me think and IS VALID.

Send in your questions and spread the word! (I sound like a TV Presenter). There’s no set deadline, but once I’ve collected enough questions, I’ll put it on this post.

Oh, and I know that 17 months isn’t exactly a huge milestone, but thankks for sticking with me!

From Elm ๐Ÿ™‚

Being An Arrogant, Seasoned Blogger HA

I would happily collaborate, or guest post, on someone’s blog who had 1 follower.

One of the things I’m relatively okay with about myself is the fact that I WANT to help people. GOD, that sounds horrible; it seems like I’m saying “PFTTTT you TOTALLY need my help you puny mortal blogger, HA!”

I’m not. If it comes across that way, you can call me a bitch; I’M SORRY! All I want to say is that I am completely willing, and HAPPY, to, um…

Okay okay this is getting awkward. So like I have a few followers and stuff… And NO if anyone says the word Quaen I will scream. And… OH CRAP I’m being arrogant again let’s start this over…

I am possibly the worst person ever at admitting that I’ve been successful, or that I’m good at, something. But I’m both, in a way, when it comes to blogging. There. Arrogant part over and done with, for the most part.

The point is: if you don’t have many followers – by that I mean below 50, or below 100 – or you’re new to blogging, I want to help you in any way I can. Also, I’d LOVE to guest post on your blog or have you posting on mine because that’d be amazing and it would make my week. I know what it’s like to be new to blogging and just think, “CRAP, how do I even talk to anyone and what is this CRAAAAHP.”

As well as this, I think it’s lovely to find a new blog, and get new comments from people on yours. Whenever I receive a lovely word from someone, it makes me grin whilst reading, and I know that when I started getting 1 comment on a post, it made me unbelievably happy. (It still does).

I’ll be focusing on anyone who wants to guest pos, who’s new or relatively new, probably more than I create actual posts. GCSEs are starting soon, so I need to make time for them, yet I’ll always have this blog open to you guys.

So, if you’re thinking, “SHUT up Elm no one likes you; you’re acting like a TOTAL arsehole,” you’d probably be right. Um, I mean, SHUSH I’m a nice person? But if you’re thinking, “I honestly don’t know what I’m doing with blogging, and I want my words to be read,” hit me up.

Er, I mean, contact me. You can do that by emailing me at gemmabaristol@yahoo.co.uk, or by visiting my contact page.

At the end of the day, follower count doesn’t matter. What means the world to me, and probably for you too, is to have your words read and for people to get meaning out of them. It gives you a chance to get your voice out there, anonymously or otherwise, and to make people smile, laugh and think.

You all deserve to have that; everyone does. When you start, blogging is sometimes terrifying and you don’t know what to do with yourself. If you want advice, you can always ask me, or talk to another blogger (everybody is so nice, like you wouldn’t believe).

From Elm ๐Ÿ™‚

Deleting a Post Doesn’t Make you Fake

I just deleted a post.

A published one. It’s the second time I’ve done it – the first was one that was so horrible and triggering that I never want to read it again and the second?

This one was CRAP. I didn’t delete it because I got no likes – I’m not that person – I deleted it because I didn’t like it. Something about it REPELLED me.

I HATE editing myself on the Internet. I want to show you guys the real me, the whole me, the me that writes stupid things and can be INSUFFERABLE. So, WHY did I delete that post?

I guess I wanted to. I got angry at it, and furious at my (shitty) blogging style. I’m not angry now, just a bit frustrated.

Deleting a post doesn’t make you a fake person, or someone who panders to an audience with no original thoughts of their own.

You aren’t betraying yourself if you delete something. I don’t often do it, because I feel weird if I do, but if YOU do there’s nothing wrong with it.

You’re you and if you want to delete something, DAMN WELL DO IT unless it’s going to cause you pain.

In other news, I did my first mock today and it went surprisingly well. I have THREE tomorrow though, which is going to be hell. Have you had them, or are you going to have them soon?

From Elm ๐Ÿ™‚