Should I stop?
I just read Shannon Ashley’s article entitled Who Are You Writing For? and it’s a very nice, feel-good read. (If you’re one of the few people who don’t know her yet, you need to check her out). It ultimately got me thinking about the same question , and as I am writing this, I don’t have an answer.
I’m secretly hoping this is the kind of piece where I find the answer at the end.
Am I a good fit?
When I look at all the articles I’ve written so far, the ones I’ve had the most fun with are those that required a lot of research. Very little of what I write is drawn from personal experience.
But what I see the most and read the most are pieces that tap into the writer’s personal experiences.
I love those pieces . Everyone does. Getting personal is paramount in the blogging realm. I’ve seen this advice thrown around so many times — don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. And it works. Those talented writer’s stories are interwoven with a sort of universality that somehow makes the piece relatable and easy to empathize with.
So what am I supposed to do here?
It’s hard to feel like what I have to say can be valuable to someone when I know that I haven’t lived enough. How can I draw from a personal experience when my personal experiences look so bland. I’m a 22-year-old student who’s barely done anything. I can’t write about that.
I’m not saying that those who have lived a lot have it easy here. That would be ludicrous. A lot of those pieces stem from trauma and heartaches and tough upbringing and important life decisions and so much more, and to be able to tell your story in such a compelling and educational way is a feat that I can only hope to replicate one day.
But how do I succeed in the blogging area when the writer’s life is so important? And if I virtually can’t succeed because of this, why do I keep writing?
Because I only write for myself…
I said, sarcastically setting up the second part of a piece full of self-doubt that includes a not-so-subtle call for guidance.
I care a lot for no tangible reason
Don’t get me wrong, I believe I do write for myself. I don’t think I would be able to keep writing if I didn’t like it. But it’s not the only reason I keep writing , even though sometimes I hope it was.
I wish I could say I only write for myself and I don’t care about anything else, but then I hit “Publish" and repeatedly tell myself that I’m not gonna check Medium until tomorrow. And then I watch one or two episodes of a show with my girlfriend and I go to the bathroom and I immediately check Medium. And then I can’t stop. I refresh the stats every 15 minutes or so. I close the app and somehow find my way back to it 1.7 seconds later. It just sort of happens against my conscious will. I itch for a notification.
And then Wednesday night comes along and you’ll undoubtedly see me refreshing the Partner Program page over and over again because these earnings show what I’m worth. Two of my pieces received an extra $100 from the editors, which means that my other pieces that didn’t get this privilege aren’t as good, right?
I theoretically know how ridiculous it is to base one’s self-worth on the results of one’s work. But I can’t help it. Growing up as the Smart Kid gifted me with a great deal of anxiety and impostor’s syndrome, and validation is a hell of good weapon to fight against those foes.
And yet, with all those thoughts that make me care so much about what I put out there, I still don’t feel like I have a legitimate reason to keep writing, nor do I feel like I deserve the few readers who read my articles.
Jonathan Greene is one of the biggest advocates for building a community, for connecting with other writers. I personally love the idea. But I have a hard time making that connection. I clap a lot, but I rarely manage to comment on someone’s story because I don’t know how to comment.
When I read other people’s comments, I feel like they also draw from personal experiences. They share how they feel about the piece and share how they relate somehow. As someone who has barely lived anything, I rarely have anything interesting to say other than “I very much liked reading this.”
So if I barely ever comment, do I even deserve an audience? Can I complain about not really having one?
And if I’m not working as much as other writers to grow a readership, one might question why I even write. Again, of course I like to write. But validation and money also appear to be motivators. So, in the end, do I really only write for myself?
I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. All I know is that I’m a towering mountain of ignorance who tries his hardest to make up for it by reading a lot and writing a lot.
Unlike Shannon, I can’t write for my daughter — I don’t have one. I haven’t lived the experiences necessary to tell myself my writing has a purpose bigger than myself. I don’t think I write for anyone in particular.
I just really, really feel like writing right about now.
Here are some stories where I draw from personal experiences:
Nostalgia For A Time You've Never Known
False familiarity in the pictures we take, draw and paint
How To Get Away With Saying The N-Word
Trigger Warning: This article will feature the N-word used in full.