A Writer's Life

Creative Discouragement—The How and the Why

So, there’s a seriously big question about blogging that I’ve only recently discovered, but that I think might have been hanging over me for quite a while, and it’s this:

Why do I become discouraged so much more easily about my writing/blogging than I do about other things in my life?

If you read this blog religiously (I think there might be about two of you), then you might have noticed that I haven’t posted much recently. At all. I haven’t posted since we got back from Hawaii—and I regaled all of you lucky folks with tales of our adventures and recommendations for any Hawaiian trips you might have planned—about three weeks ago. In the scheme of things, three weeks isn’t that long I guess… But it kind of is, too.

The reason is pretty simple (aren’t they always?), and it’s that I just didn’t see much point in doing so, which leads us back to the question posed above. Why is it so easy for me to fall off the writing/blogging/creative bandwagon? I train five times a week, stretch three times a week, track macros every single day, and seem to very rarely struggle to tick those items off my daily list. But blogging? Well, the stats—and the number of posts I’ve written in the past about struggling to find much point in continuing with this blog—speak for themselves.

Is it simply force of habit?

After all, a lot of my life is clearly wedded to routine. It very rarely occurs to me that I should skip training (no doubt helped in a large part to training with James), and I’ll force myself to stretch because I know it’s good for me, even when I feel overwhelmed with study or other commitments. But writing doesn’t seem to come as easily, even if I dedicate myself to writing for 30 minutes a day and maintain that for months… I can’t help but think that, though to some extent it is about habit, creative endeavour falls into a somewhat different category to those listed above.

For a start, many other aspects of my life have the advantage of providing me with visible and definable progress as I devote time and energy to them. I get ‘improvement yardsticks’: I lift more in the gym, I find stretching routines easier, I achieve. Writing (and, for me, especially blogging), doesn’t necessarily have the same kind of triumphs. I can post three times a week and not have significantly different stats to if I posted just once: there is no real way for me to know if my blogging skills, or my ability to rouse readers’ interest/engagement have developed at all. I can write, and write, and write… and not really know if all of that practice is doing all that much. Am I a better writer?

Feedback (or interaction generally) about and around an activity seems to be another major facet of this issue.

In training, gym-based results are feedback in and of themselves: I know I’m improving because I can see it or feel it. But I also train with the person who writes my programming, who provides feedback that highlights how far I’ve come and the ways in which I can continue to improve. Blogging… Not so much. I can spend hours writing a post (literally hours: I shudder to think just how much time i have devoted to creating content for this blog) and have no idea if what I’ve said resonated with anyone, or if I’m on the right path. And almost everyone who reads my blog is a friend/connection of mine: I’m not writing or creating well enough to reach a wider audience. In not achieving engagement with readers, I don’t really know if I’m on the right path. To a lesser extent this is also true of my other writing projects, but at least with submitting a piece to a competition I ask someone to proof read it first, and they tell me whether or not I’ve hit the mark. Blogging can feel like little more than simply talking into the void.

Finally, it’s hard to overcome the gnawing self-doubt that reminds you that whatever you think, feel, or believe, there is doubtless someone out there who has already done a better job of talking about it. I’m passionately interested in women’s rights, issues of racism and marginalisation,  and the mistreatment of members of the LGBT+ community, among others, but what can I say that is at all useful, insightful, or persuasive to others?

So, that’s how I think I get discouraged about this blog: as you may perhaps be able to tell, it’s not a super hard thing to do. But I’m going to try and get back on this poorly-behaved horse, and commit myself to blogging at least once a week for the rest of the year… and we’ll all see how that goes for me (and for you, oh-faithful and possibly imaginary reader). Now I have to be off to work on my new novel—well, and the old one too—because those damn things aren’t going to write themselves.

— Ana.

5 Comments

  • Nicole Evans

    “And almost everyone who reads my blog is a friend/connection of mine: I’m not writing or creating well enough to reach a wider audience. In not achieving engagement with readers, I don’t really know if I’m on the right path.”

    I can totally understand this. Most of my readers–and almost everyone who comments on my blog–are people that I know personally or am good friends with. Hardly do I ever reach any farther than that. I think the question then becomes, if that never changes, do you still want to do it? Does it serve any other purpose for you, if you don’t get that support or connection outwardly? For me, it’s therapeutic, so I’ll probably continue to blog regardless of my stats (but I can’t lie and say I don’t get hung up on them, too, so I *feel you* on that). I hope you choose to do what you want to do and enjoy it, whatever that choice may be! And if it’s writing a post a week every week for the rest of the year, I look forward to reading them! And if not, I look forward to continuing to support you in other ways, too. 🙂

    • anapascoe001@gmail.com

      Argh I thought I’d replied to this Nicole! I’m the worst 🙁 You’re completely right that it’s about figuring out what you want and what you’re happy to have (and, conversely, to not have) in any pursuit. I think for me, I feel like some of my posts take me hours to write. Literally hours, and they’re MEANT for people to read, they’re persuasive writing pieces (or that’s what they’re meant to be haha). So that’s why I’m revamped and I’m going to keep learning about SEO and I’m going to quit whinging and more actively pursue what I want :p That’s the plan anyway! Thank you for always keeping me positive, for making me smile, and for being such a great support <3 🙂

      • Nicole Evans

        Gosh, don’t worry about it! But I also don’t blame you, when you spend so many hours crafting and writing and then suddenly no one reads it; that can get hard. But I’m so stoked for your revamp and to see what direction it goes in now! 😀 And you know I’ll always support you, no matter what!

  • Nik

    Hi Ana – I tried to post a comment to this a couple of days ago and it didn’t go through for some reason so I’ll try again now! Clearly it won’t be as amazing and inspiring as the original one haha! I can fully relate to and understand your feelings of screaming into the void when it comes to blogging. My current writing blog is my third blog of similar style and for most of the early years on the older ones I had very little interaction or feedback. On my current site I made a point of writing for myself but also accepting that I have different strands (storyteller, useless parent, random crap-spouter etc.) and designed the layout with that in mind. I became smarter about using tags and spent more time on other blog sites – but only a select few that appealed to me rather than a wide scattergun approach. Over time it’s led to a small but vocal core of people who spend time on my site (I’m very lucky to count you amongst them!) and it does make it seem more worthwhile.

    The main advice I can give you really is to be true to what you want to write but to perhaps compartmentalise your site a little if you want to have a number of different themes – travel, stories and writing topics seem to be your main three. You’re clearly already taking the time and effort to interact with others so maybe some tagging might also help?

    Whatever you choose to write the key thing is that it should be what you want to write, not what other people expect or want – so if you want to give voice to the very worthy and weighty issues that move you then you shouldn’t hold back.

    Good luck with your continued writing – and I hope the creative discouragement is short lived 🙂

    • anapascoe001@gmail.com

      Nik, you are the best!! I completely agree about re-structuring and re-imagining how I blog; I’m actually teaching myself about SEO right now and a lot of the fallout information from that is that I really need to figure out how best to run my blog (including tags, reorganising displays etc). I think you’re totally right, in other words! 😛

      Thanks for the encouragement and the advice, they’re both ridiculously welcome: hopefully I’ll be making changes in the next couple of weeks that’ll reflect it! 🙂

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