I was asked last year to describe my blog in one word. For something that should have taken a while to come up with, it popped right into my mind: Authenticity.
There are a lot of blogs out there as well as many writers. Everyone is looking for “the way” to make it and have their voice heard. I’m embarrassed to say you will find posts on my blog which fall flat on their face. Those blog posts were written because I felt I needed to get something out to my readers. But there are also meaningful posts where I was being myself.
Authenticity matters to me because I don’t want to be like everyone else. I don’t want to “stand out” from the crowd. I write because I want to be true to myself as well as my readers, not some cut out cookie content mill. I write because I want my words to heal not only myself, but possibly help someone else going through the same thing. I write because I believe people should be true to themselves. And before you can be true to yourself, you have to want to learn about yourself. I’ve spent a lot of time doing this, partly because I’m an introvert and partly because I’ve battled mental illness since I was in high school. Years of therapy have helped me learn the good, the bad, and the downright ugly things I didn’t want to acknowledge, but have made me a better person.
It’s really easy to get pulled back into the trap of not being authentic and people do it for all sorts of reasons. It’s a plain and simple truth about human nature and especially hard when you are unsure of yourself. Our own fears, insecurities, and failings pull us back from being our authentic selves because they don’t like it when we stand up and say, “This isn’t working for me.”
What the Hell is a Platform?
When I started this writing adventure a few years ago, I had no idea what I was doing. All I wanted to do was join NaNoWriMo and write a book in 30 days. And I did. I wrote a book in 30 days. I was proud of my accomplishment. Then I started reading and believing what all the writers and marketers out there were saying about making a living as a writer. They said in order to be successful, you must have a “platform” and a “blog.” I remember thinking, “What the hell is a platform?” and "What the hell do I want to write about?" -- I'm still figuring this last one out!
I started searching and reading everything I could about building a platform. I set up my website and started blogging, continuing to read in an effort to convince myself I would become a better writer because of it. Then I started believing I “had” to do all those things to make it as a writer and gain readers. Because let’s be honest, without readers, writers wouldn’t have jobs.
I believed in many of the falsities, and in the process lost “why” I was writing. In fact, I’d given up writing altogether because I was searching for “how to” be a writer instead of just being a writer. The truth is, as writers we still have our words and no one will ever be able to take that away from us. For that right, I am thankful.
But there’s one small truth no one is acknowledging. You don’t have to do all that stuff if it’s not true to who you are and what you are doing. Let me repeat this: You don’t have to do all that stuff if it’s NOT TRUE to who you are and what you are doing.
I recognized I was not being true to myself last fall and that’s why I dialed back on the number of writing blogs I was reading and the number of podcasts I was listening to.
I’ve stopped blogging and writing altogether. I’ve fallen into the trap of believing I wouldn’t be good unless I did “X” again. And the more I believe this, the more I can't actually write.
I wanted to be among that group of “successful” writers. I wanted to make it as a writer so bad that I unintentionally set myself up for failure. And guess what happened? I crashed. I do not handle failure well. I’m not sure anyone does. My writer insecurity took over and I began to second guess everything I’d done. My instinct was to delete everything it all because I’d convinced myself it wasn’t making a difference and that my writing flat-out sucked.
I ignored the fact that first and foremost my writing should first be for me. And if someone else likes it, great. If they don’t, so be it. I ignored the fact that I started writing because I like to tell stories.
In my attempt to “fix” this crash, I started to read more and more about how to be a better writer and build an audience This only left me not writing at all. I believed I was an awful writer. Any negative feedback shot me down. I started looking at my work with such a critical eye, my writing was no longer enjoyable. I believed in the false truth that I am a shitty writer.
Why It's Okay to Make Your Own Rules
I forced myself not to listen to all the nonsense out there about how to make it as a writer. And for a while I was doing better.
But here I sit today, back in that spot of having to do “X” to be good, to be heard. And I have a confession to make. I’m not sure blogging is for me. Most times it feels forced and fake, inauthentic. I’m realizing the more I try to fight that simple truth, the more I push myself to be something I am not and create writing that is inauthentic.
I’m right back where I started, afraid and discouraged, stuck in the writer’s hole of hell, wondering how I will get out. It cripples me and keeps me stuck. And while I believe many writers feel this way, having chronic depression and anxiety doesn’t help me pull out of the situation or look at things logically.
Breaking the Rules
Today there’s something different. I’m seeing it from a different angle and I am breaking the rules of the “experts.” I am taking the pop ups off my website. And I am not offering the free incentive readers get “only if” they sign up for my email list.
I want people to sign up for my email list because they want to, because maybe I have something useful to say, not because I have to offer them something, coercing them into “giving” me their email. As writers, we lie to ourselves and convince ourselves we have to have people join our email list otherwise we aren’t successful.
I want my writing to be useful, for myself and for you, my readers. If my writing isn’t useful for you, that’s great. If it is useful for you, that’s great too. But I cannot continue to ignore the nagging sensation of not being authentic. So, while I work through how I want to get my writing out there, I’m changing the rules to fit my authentic self. I cannot continue to have this war inside myself. I cannot continue being stuck inside my head. I want to write. I want to sell my work. And I refuse to put it out there if it isn’t authentic.
One of my favorite quotes is by Benjamin Mee: “All you need is 20 seconds of insane courage, and I promise something great will come of it.” Well, here’s my 20 seconds of insane courage, laying my thoughts and writing out on the line.
So what’s next? Well, that’s up to you. Are you willing to have 20 seconds of courage? Are you willing to look inside yourself and learn more? Are you willing to be true to yourself and not be what other people want you to be? If so, join me, and we will start this journey together.
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No material on this website can be used without permission. All Rights Reserved. Christy Zigweid - 2018
**I am not a licensed counselor nor a medical doctor and the views on this website are solely mine. **
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