Selfish writing

A good few posts here on the site reference learning as one of the key reasons for commencing this blog and indeed carrying on to this point — some four years later. A noble goal — or at the very least — a reasonable basis for applying a little effort towards producing content.

Over that time period, I’ve been through various phases and feelings about writing here. Beginners nerves (which merely evolve into more experienced nerves upon hitting “publish”); gaining some, then wanting more readers; realising more posts gain more readers and writing them; burning out a little, and realising 20% less monthly readers affords 80% (if not more) better balance. Blogging as a hobby really should not be a chore.

Now? I’m quite content with how things are. Thanks for asking.

Accompanying the passage of time has been a realisation the knowledge I gain through researching, reading, and organising my thoughts on various topics and posts is indeed quite valuable to me. It is however, secondary to something far more important. Something I perhaps didn’t anticipate, understand, nor fully appreciate until now. Something inherently more selfish, which far outweighs the learning — and indeed sharing — of knowledge by a significant order of magnitude. It is probably also time to own up to that truth.

When all is said and done, I’m really just writing here for my own sanity. Plain and simple.

The longer I do this, the more I realise the predominant, though unintended (yet most welcome) benefit of all this is the process of writing, and the switch-off it affords from most other goings-on while I’m doing it. Even better? The option at any time to not do it for a while — whether by choice or circumstance — and return when I choose.

Should this really come as much of a surprise? Probably not, and is simply a classic case of forest for the trees if ever there was one, however I am glad to be a little more aware of such a welcome reality.

Undoubtedly this is probably not a surprise to anyone who writes in a similar way, unencumbered by deadlines, contracts or commitments. Then again, who am I to assume — perhaps those who write for a living feel the same way, although I suspect there is at least some additional burden on the minds of those who do.

Maybe arriving at this point was inevitable, and I was simply unaware of it when starting out. After all, those sayings don’t lie do they. You know them: the process not the outcome; the journey, not the destination; the writing, not the readers.

I’ve taken some liberty in including that last one, and to explain further, you — the reader — are extremely important to me of course. I simply realise doing my best to provide readable content which may (hopefully) be helpful or provide value in some small way is part of the process, may be an outcome, however is not stoking the fire as it once was. Or at least as I thought it was.

So, have I been lying to you all this time?

I’d say no, however perhaps no more so to you, the reader, than to myself. Let’s think of it merely an oversight rather than outright deception. What next then? Well, I guess there is nothing to do but continue, and do so in the knowledge at the heart of these pages lies an intrinsic motivation which will likely keep me writing far longer than any extrinsic reward.

For that, I am extremely grateful — as I am to you, for reading.

I Applaud You – No Apology Necessary

From time to time I see posts written which outline how the author is taking a break, reducing the frequency of posts, or something similar.

The reason cited most often is a lack of time due to other commitments (be they other projects — yay; or the day job — boo). It could be just a general reordering of priorities, blog direction or topics, or simply new ideas. At times a significant life event might be just around the corner.

Sometimes there is an accompanying suggestion of a drop off in post quality — always by the author mind you — us readers are generally enjoying them as much as we ever have. Perhaps the notion of guilt is expressed because a regular posting schedule has been missed, or even a feeling of dread because self-imposed deadlines are looming.

That is no fun.

The very essence of a personal blog, whether named as such like this one, or named in connection with its primary topic such as those linked to below — is just that — its personal. That is, your personal “thing”. Your project, or hobby, or endeavour. Whatever you choose to call it, or how you approach it — yours it is, and yours to do with as you please.

I have read three such posts from sites I follow (and very much enjoy) in fairly quick succession on this general topic. There have been many others, and I link to these merely because they have been posted in the past couple of weeks:

Making Time For Fiction – Write Analog
Stay Tuned… – Johnny Anypen
On taking a step back… – All Things Stationery

This post is not so much about those above, more so my thoughts on what I, as a reader, am owed in terms of an explanation from the author of any site I chose to read.

I am very happy to read about upcoming plans, changes or new projects from those I enjoy reading, and found myself saying: “good for you” when reading each of the posts above. I say the same when reading posts describing how things are a little busy, or difficult, and the author is taking a break. I equally applaud and enjoy reading about the “why” of both.

Just one thing though — there is no way you ever need to apologise to me for making changes to your blog. The particular posts above have not done this, yet there are others that have.

Your blog is almost certainly a hobby. The thing that either excites you or helps you wind down (likely both). Something to take your mind off your day job. Perhaps it’s a portal to another world — one which you also frequent on Twitter, Instagram, Slack or any other means of interaction with the community of your fellow bloggers.

Of course my frame of reference here is the pen community, however I am sure the same applies to many others.

You’ll notice I’ve referred to hobbies, winding down, taking your mind off your day job. All positive. Things which bring us joy. Perhaps a sense of satisfaction or accomplishment (maybe a little fear) every time we hit publish. Contributing, sharing — caring even — about the community and what we may bring to it.

When the “positive” changes, or is harder to see or feel, you have every right to — and should — make changes. Set goals and plans, but feel free to change them. Suit yourself, not a “recommended” posting frequency, topic and length — prescribed for “maximum page views” (unless you want to of course).

If the frequency drops? Myself and other readers who enjoy your posts will still be here. When the next one hits our RSS or Twitter feed, inbox or web browser, our smile will be broader than ever. Because you’re still writing and we know writing brings you joy — perhaps as much as reading your words brings us. Personally, I’d rather read six posts a year than none at all, and I’m sure there are many readers who feel the same.

Who knows, perhaps after that break, the post you return with might be a cracker.

So, if you deem changes are preferable, or even necessary on your blog? Please make them, and by all means you may profusely apologise if you want to — it is just that in my humble opinion as a reader, I don’t believe you need to.