If often goes that the pieces you put the most effort into, spent the most time writing and generally are the ones you put the most heart into are the least popular.
Turns out sometimes your reader won’t be as enamored with the work that you consider to be your best, in fact they may hate it.
And so you may now find yourself with the dilemma of whether you should continue sharing what you consider to be your best work when your readers don’t seem to like it.
For me the answer is yes, your work should be about so much more than simply pleasing the reader.
Just because something isn’t popular, doesn’t mean that it isn’t any good or that it isn’t appreciated.
As someone that has never written for a publication or written a book, I have a hard time calling myself a writer.
I’ve always thought that having my words published in a newspaper, magazine, website or a book etc. would be the validation that I need to claim the label of writer, yet they are not things I actively pursue.
I think this is because when you do something for the love of it, trying to make it anything more is scary. There is also the fear of not being good enough, of my writing not being good enough for someone else to want to share it with a wider audience.
And part of having fear and being scared has resulted in me not putting myself in a position to receive feedback.
So overtime I have come to realise that the issue is not that I can’t call myself a writer, it’s that I didn’t meet the criteria of what I thought a writer should be. But further to that I am not yet the sort of writer that I aspire to be.
My favourite thing about this blog is that I’m driven by my commitment to writing more than anything else.
If I write something that gets 1 view, I’m just glad that I committed to writing something another day.
If I write something that gets 102 views, I’m glad that a bigger number of people got to read my words. That is a bonus on top of me committing to sharing something for another day.
When I started this daily writing practice it was not only because I wanted to challenge myself and wholeheartedly commit to something new.
I’m committed to doing the work as a priority, anything that comes along with it is secondary. That mindset makes posting daily 101 times easier because I’m not focused on getting my numbers up or having the most likes, comments or views.
When you feel stuck and don’t quite know what to write, instead of shying away from it, follow it.
Start typing and just see what happens.
Don’t focus on how good or bad it is. Don’t focus on whether it’ll be worth sharing online or what people will think. Just write and then write some more.
Keep going until the words start to flow with ease. It might get easier after a few sentences or a few hundred words but keep going and just write.
When you finally decide to stop, you might find that you love what you’ve managed to write but that isn’t the goal or the purpose.
The purpose is to write through the ‘writers block’ because doing so teaches you that maybe it’s not as big of an obstacle that you think it is.
It would be fair to say those that write and those that are writers probably pay much more attention to words than most.
A writer is intentional about the words they use based on what feelings they want to evoke or how they want to portray the subject.
And sometimes that act of choosing words wisely trickles over into how the words of others are perceived. Except the writer forgets that other people aren’t always so picky with their words.
So, sometimes the writer receives words not quite as they were intended.
After a week or so of struggling to write I got my flow back, the words began to pour.
I began to think about how difficult it had been to post everyday that previous week, until I caught myself and realised why I hadn’t been able to write as easily.
I’d stopped writing.
In that week or so of struggling to write I’d gotten caught up in being busy and I chose to do other things with my time instead of write. And so I suppose I created this story in my head about struggling to write because it was easier than admitting the truth.
Plus, at times it’s almost cool to have ‘writers block’ just so you can shout about when it’s over.
Or at least trying to be.
I remember being around 16 or 17 telling a classmate about my writing hobby and that I had thought of doing it as a career. At the time I was pretty lost with regard to career plans and my civil engineering dream was becoming less and less likely.
My classmate on the other hand was an excellent academic – who went on to study medicine.
He told me (in a roundabout way) that sometimes when you try to turn your hobby into your career it ruins it.
At the time I think I said something like yeah you’re right. But in my head I thought but I wanna be a writer and over half a decade later I still think that.
However, despite wanting to be a writer, I’m now 2 years into a career in transport. For the most part, I’m pretty happy with where I’m at and that has made me realise that more than wanting to be a writer what I really want is to write.
And I do write.
It turns out I’ve been hiding.
I’ve been hiding from the kind of writing that challenges me. I used to think that that meant being more personal and baring my soul.
But I was wrong.
I think there is beauty in being able to write something that not only moves the reader but also the writer.
Not the painful, tortured writer but instead the kind of writing with feeling behind it instead of just words.
It’s hard to find the time to push myself with what I share on The Daily Gemm in-between everything I have going on (and everything I distract myself with). And sometimes I allow myself to be bare minimum because I know I can get away with it.
But I read something beautiful this morning and it moved me. It made me remember just what I love about writing. It got me thinking about how I used to write and how I haven’t pushed myself to explore my writing enough.
I don’t even remember the last time I just sat and wrote without thinking about what I would do with it once it was finished.
I haven’t written a poem in months.
I daydreamed about writing these personal essays about my life yet I rarely write more than a couple hundred words at a time and never get round to even planning the essays.
I’ve been hiding and I didn’t even know it.
Whatever is going on in my life will be woven through the words I write.
At times, I’m like a floatie being pulled and swayed in all kinds of directions. But I’m easily influenced and inspired.
From the ages of 16-18 I studied textiles, discovered Seth Godin and read a few books by Dickens.
That trio of things heavily influenced my writing at the time through the language in used. I can see it now but I was also aware of it at the time.
And as time has passed new things have influenced the way I write things like music, nature, relationships etc.
I still have my core style but my choice of words and what I want them to evoke has developed and grown with along with me.
For this blog my writing is heavily inspired by my themes of overcoming fear, self exploration, dream life etc
But I’m also still influenced by Seth Godin after all these years (I’m now in my twenties). I’m also influenced by things that move me emotionally, I’m a feelings person, who has kept a journal for more than a decade so it’s a big part of who I am. I can’t help but let that part of me pour out when I write.
I’d like to think that my influences and inspirations come through but it’s not down to me if they show or not.
That’s for you to decide.
For about a decade I’ve written almost daily and in the past 7 months I don’t think a day has gone by that I haven’t written.
But I recently started to wonder if I should stop writing. Not altogether but to simply take a break. I’m not sure what the benefits would be but it would definitely be a challenge.
Writing is embedded in me, it’s part of who I am. It’s the thing I do when I’m bored, inspired, overwhelmed, thinking, planning or looking to capture a moment or feeling.
I suppose like with any creative thing it’s good to take breaks and refresh your mind. Or even try creating in a new medium, painting for example.
How strange it would feel to pick up a brush instead of pen. It would be like flexing a new muscle or an old one in a new way.
But perhaps in that space of strangeness, newness and unfamiliarity there’s something worth exploring.