The Write Stuff: One Year Later

52 weeks. And I’m still at it. There’s no getting rid of me, it seems!

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So it’s come to this. A year has passed and this blog still won’t die. For it is not the blog that will die this day, no! It is the enemy that will taste death and defeat! As you know!

Well, a year has passed (more or less) and this post marks week 52 of blogging. Wow. I can’t believe I made it this far. Where do I begin?

Well, aside from the fact that I’ll be celebrating a weekly, online thing which is just me putting down my thoughts and not really worth much of a celebration, I figured I can at least commemorate this with a post. So let’s talk a little bit about getting to this point.

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Specifically, this point.

When I began this blog, I had a rough idea and a punny title in mind (it was taken), seeing as people seemed to think I had nice insights that were worth sharing. Finally, after getting nagged enough times by my brother, I did something about it. I had a bunch of images, more I could hunt down, and some thoughts to go with them.

I’m not really a person that needs to broadcast his thoughts. Usually, I’m content to lurk, stew, or find a trusted person and vent to them. So doing something as presumptuous as putting my ideas out there on the internet seemed daunting at first. So ironically, the actual content of my blog wasn’t a huge motive for me; instead, I was doing it partly to have a portfolio of writing built up, and partly for the discipline of writing something every week. In fact, one of my biggest and earliest concerns was simply: Would I be able to find something to say every week?

The journey from then to now wasn’t smooth, though. Any creative endeavour will have its share of feedback and struggles, and mine went through some rough patches.

I was navigating entirely new territory by myself (What do I say in this blog? How do I write it? How do I present and make my points? Do I worry about publicity?). I had backseat drivers telling me what to do. A lot of it was constructive (the two biggest contributions being “support with more examples” and “add YOUR unique insights to personalise it”) and all of it was given with the best of intentions. But I was in the rough spot of essentially having to take in opinions from people who weren’t actually going through the journey themselves, but who were very close to me.

And it was all in the midst of a particularly tough period at work. Due to various issues and the sudden departure of another writer, I ended up having to do twice the work in the same amount of time, and was in that state for a few months. After a neverending roller coaster of challenges (like those neverending rides people make in Roller Coaster Tycoon), towards the end I was saddled with a tremendous final boss of a job and I had to work into the wee hours of the morning to get it done on time.

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That’s what I felt like then.

In hindsight, I think these combined factors left me in an incredibly nervous place, desperately seeking something where I could do things MY way, to have some solace from having to do things for everyone else. It made me overprotective of what little I had, and made me see things more personally than they actually had to be. So instead of picking and choosing what pieces of feedback were most relevant to me and taking the advice objectively, I was in a really awkward and hard-to-describe situation. So I’ll try and boil it down:

Firstly, I am new at this whole blogging thing so I think “Well, they surely know more than me, I should listen to them and respect them.” My way of looking at things was: Because a person is wise and close, that they MUST be heeded at every turn. It never occurred to me that I didn’t have to hold their ideas on pedestals or take it personally, and that I was free to pick and choose.

But then, I think “But some of this stuff doesn’t sound like what I want to do at all” and I get angsty about where this fledgling blog is supposed to go. If it was supposed to be MINE and the main starting point was that it should feature my UNIQUE voice, why am I carving parts of me off just to fit feedback?

The main reason any of this was even an issue was because I had an inflated opinion about the opinions I was getting. Essentially, I thought the world of the people giving it to me. So I had hamstrung my own self-confidence in my own vision (basically thinking I should never be so proud that I ignore others, that if I even remotely disagreed I was shutting myself off from feedback), which in turn fed my resentment over the whole situation (i.e. Shouldn’t the people closest to me know what I’m about and respect what I want?). This, in turn, bled into my simple disagreements: I got pretty darn passive-aggressive and defensive without knowing it, and I apparently couldn’t say a simple “I’m not sure if that fits, but thanks” without injecting a sense of “Why are you telling me what to do with my writing and making me feel guilty for disagreeing? Don’t I get a say in it?”

This, of course, was on top of the situation at work, which was just the force multiplier from hell. Gave me one heck of a martyr complex just for even SURVIVING it, with the associated expectations that I should be getting more leeway or understanding of my situation.

If you think this sounds petty, insecure, and entirely too personal, then good job for paying attention. That was basically where I was at, and I make no excuses for my mistakes. In all honesty, I could probably have communicated with less standoffishness if I’d been capable of keeping the feedback at a healthy distance, but every time I tried to voice a disagreement, it seems that it came off as a really defensive, passive-aggressive statement because I couldn’t let go of my expectation of “You’re supposed to be on my side, you’re supposed to understand me.”

Heck, I even agonised over some COMPLIMENTS I got. Largely because they essentially focused on things like analysis or dissecting what makes the audience tick. Language which seemed to me dangerously close to the sort of know-it-all tell-you-what-to-think analysts populating the internet, which made me fear I was just becoming a carbon copy of the very type of blogger I tried to avoid.

So what seemed to me like an entirely personal enterprise faced some very external challenges. The main thoughts I agonised (and lashed out) over were these:

What’s the point of making a blog if it’s a chore?

What’s the point of writing “my unique style” if I can’t even write my way?

Finding Equilibrium

Well, that was a lot of drama about my journey as a blogger. But hey, it’s not all gloom and doom. I mean, I got to this point SOMEHOW, right?

True, it wasn’t an easy journey to reach this point. But I got a lot of support, and talked out as many issues as I could. And eventually, I think I’d reached the level of acceptance and objectivity that let me pick and choose advice without having to obsess over it or take it too personally.

I could see it as “This is the sort of advice this person tends to give” instead of “This person is dictating terms to me and forcing me to be more like him.” It helps that we’d all done our best to communicate these issues to each other, gaining a better understanding of our boundaries and our mentalities.

Ironically, while all of this process as a blogger was in a state of flux, very little of it actually affected my developing views of my blog itself. Through all this, I was still putting out my posts. And with each post, I was gaining experience and confidence.

True, my blog was sometimes seen as a chore, duty, or exercise, like an introvert having to attend public speaking classes. But the more I wrote, the more comfortable I got finding a topic and then finding things to say about it. And the more comfortable I got in finding my groove, the less of a chore writing became.

The challenge is still there, but it’s more smoothly interwoven with my ACTUAL interests. I’m not just picking dry topics like I’m on the debate team, but I’m actually more invested in what I’m writing, and better able to put my personal spin on it.

So even with all that drama, even with all those trials, I was growing. I gained the discipline to write consistently, and now I’m putting down 1000-2000 words a week (now if I could only throw some of that wordage at my own stories). I discovered and developed my potential as a writer, finding out that I could find things to say and plan ahead, giving me confidence in place of doubt that I could venture into such new territory.

And of course, I got to write about writing…and stuff. Even in its most challenging times, I find enjoyment in finding out what I have to say or what I can discover about the things I wrote about. It gives me a better understanding of this process itself, and the mix of discipline and inspiration it gets, along with the will to actually go through with it in the first place.

52 weeks. And I’m still at it. There’s no getting rid of me, it seems!

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I’ll be here…FOREEEEEVEEEEEER.

Well, that’s about everything I can say about my journey. The tl;dr of it was I chose to write my blog at what turned out to be a VERY awkward and challenging time, but survived it and emerged stronger (I hope).

And what’s next? Well, for starters, I’m spreading my insidious reach to other sections of the internet. I’ve got a Facebook page and a YouTube channel, both under construction. You should totally check those out, by the way, I say in an entirely selfless manner. (Oh hey, look, it’s the unreliable narrator, that gimmick I introduced but never used in my first post!)

Though I’ve my doubts, I’m still determined. This blog may not be some sort of essential oasis holding me together, but it’s still good to and for me. It’s like a weekly gym day, something I don’t strictly need, but which is great for making me stronger and healthier if I keep at it. And if I can keep at this, I’ll be keeping my writing muscles in shape. Muscles I’ll be using to, yes, hopefully finish my own writing. Which I will then shamelessly shill on this very site! My TRUUUUUEEEEEEEE purpose for it! MWAAAAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAA!

But of course, I wouldn’t be able to close it without a huge thanks to my readers. My views may not be too high, but they’re there. Most are from home, or where my friends live. But I’ve gotten weird one-off views from the likes of Japan, Nigeria, and Ireland.

Whoever you are, if you’ve been reading and enjoying yourself, thanks for sticking with me. I hope that on this time here, you’ve picked up about writing, and the stuff that goes into it.

Author: The Write Stuff Was Taken

Well, I think he's important to the site...can't imagine how, though...

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