The Writing Maladies of a Sensitive Blogger

For the most of this past summer I was MIA on WordPress. Believe it or not, the sentence “this is me showing up at the page” was all I could come up with. I would sit in front of this blank screen with the blinking cursor silently mocking my failure at stringing along a few decent paragraphs.

Eventually, I couldn’t bear to see it flashing before me, closed the tab and avoided WordPress altogether for the better part of the summer.

Why am I telling you this? Maybe I’m just looking for sympathy. Or maybe I just want to know that someone else out there can relate.

I started this blog in 2009. Three years ago, I was a very different person. Well actually, I was the same person but I saw things very differently. I started my blog for the same reason many of us start blogs. The feeling of an escape from life, or perhaps the need to have something new that is utterly and completely in your control. In my case, it was both.

The blank page was my best friend. I could fill it up with whatever I wanted. Life was a mess, but the page was clean.

I didn’t really care who read the blog. I loved to write. Writing made me happy, and my happiness had nothing to do with how many views my posts received. I learnt that I was my biggest critic. If I liked my post, then it didn’t matter who else did. If I hated it, all the positive feedback in the world wouldn’t be able to convince me I did a good job. 

And then something happened. Call it time or call it Freshly Pressed. Let’s call it Freshly Pressed. 

Freshly Pressed was probably the best and the worst thing that ever happened to this blog and its writer. Freshly Pressed gives you about 48 hours of fame and instant gratification, a window in which the world loves you. Followers and likes and comments rain down like confetti on the celebration of your blog’s success.

If you are a blogger who was Freshly Pressed, you may be able to attest that things change after that. For me, it stopped being about the love of writing and expression. It was now all about the audience. This is not to say Freshly Pressed was a bad thing. I ran into so many of you because of it, and for that I am grateful. 

But the pressure that I put on myself was definitely on. I placed my creative self-esteem in the hands of audience feedback. And solely positive feedback. 

If I didn’t think someone would like what I was going to write about, the post either landed in my saved documents or in the trash. As a result, hundreds of posts were aborted out of fear of disinterest, fear of negative feedback or maybe the worst- fear of complete indifference.

I seemed to have forgotten why I started this blog. The main reason this blog even exists is so that I don’t take myself too seriously. Ironically, I’ve never taken myself more seriously. For example, take this very post. It took me two weeks to write it and an hour and a half to come up with a title.

Creative process of normal people:

…whatever your definition of normal is

My version of the creative process:

I make this look more complicated than it really is

Of course, I cannot blame my blogging blocks entirely on Freshly Pressed. A lot of it was also personal issues that added to the mix. 

While I may have been absent from blogging, I wasn’t completely absent from reading some of the blogs I`m subscribed to. Mainly, you guys. This is where I talk about why Freshly Pressed was the best thing that ever happened to me. Take this any way you want to (actually, please take this in a good way) but I envied you all.

You all are fearless writers. (Yes, you!)  Whether it’s a post about finding roses in the garbage disposal, or a post about getting mad when people call you by stupid nicknames, or a post about the joy of getting voting stickers, you guys taught me that I shouldn’t care too much about other people’s opinions. Even if I do, it shouldn’t stop me from writing. You all have the metaphorical pair of blogger balls that I really need to start growing.

In many ways, they both feel the same.

Eventually of course, my summer pity party ended and I started writing again. Even if it was a post about talking to my blender, it had to be written if only to break the cycle of fear of not being liked. This post has no fancy play on words, no clever puns (except the blogger balls one, which is really a metaphor and not that funny). It`s the first time in a long time that I’m not trying desperately hard to impress everyone.

If you have gotten to the end of this post- Thank You. I may have spent a whole post talking about how you are indirectly the cause of my writing anxiety, but you are also directly the cause of infinite encouragement and inspiration. I could write another 3000 words about how awesome you guys are but I won`t because I’d like to stop being such a sap and get back to my usual no-nonsense sarcastic self. 

To all of you awesome WordPress bloggers, seeing you guys regularly on my reader has inspired me by kicking my ass into gear. Now I’d like to know your secrets: Why did you start blogging? How do you get past social acceptance fears? Does blogging ever feel like a job?

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66 thoughts on “The Writing Maladies of a Sensitive Blogger

  1. Great post! It was worth those two weeks of work.
    I started blogging because I needed an outlet for my thoughts, and I figured blogging would be the perfect solution. And it was.
    Honestly, I don’t have many social acceptance fears, because I write what’s going on inside my head, and I don’t mind if anybody disagrees as long as they back up their argument intelligently. Of course there are always those immature haters, but a lot of the time, if you check out their blog, the content quality is far worse than what you’ve written.
    I don’t have a schedule for my posts, so it doesn’t always feel like a job. But since blogging and writing my book are basically the only things I’m doing right now, I sometimes write a post like it’s my job.
    Again, awesome post. Cheers.

    • Thank you Jan!
      Like I said…fearless.The fact that you might have had haters does prove that you aren’t afraid to write what’s on your mind. I have yet to find the balls to write about something that I know will probably earn me a couple of displeased readers.
      Writing a book! Are you putting a timeline on that? I’m thinking about it too and I think a deadline is the only way I’ll ever get around to finishing it.

      Thanks for reading! Good luck on your book. It seems like the natural progression from blogging ;)

  2. I started blogging because I wanted a place where I could see what I was thinking, versus just seeing what I was doing. Well, I mainly just write for myself, but the only thing I keep in mind is that I want my blog to be a place where people can unwind and lose themselves, even if it is just for 5 minutes!

    • See…that’s what a lot of people are saying. If you just want a place to write down your thoughts, why not buy a journal and go nuts? I feel like a lot of us secretly want others to know what we’re going through and know that someone out there can relate to us. Or we to them.

      And I don’t see anything wrong with that.

  3. 5 years ago I used to have a blog, although I never got the Freshly Pressed as my audience grew bigger, I felt more and more the pressure of writing. Writing nor for me but for my audience, writing not about what interested me but what would interest my audience. After a period, it got to me and I stopped writing.
    I think it the disease of the blogger, starting to blog four ourselves and when things gets going, starting to write for the others … and it’s there that things do not get for the better

  4. I was sitting there, at my email, barely into the second sentence, when I realized I haven’t visited your actual blog since I first subscribed. I’ve just been reading from my email. So, this post made me think that your work deserves at least a comment from me. Here it is: you are an awesome, hilarious writer, and I’m glad I found you that day when you were Freshly Pressed. Thanks for sticking around and making awesome posts even after you got all the pressure and readers. :)

  5. This blog post was AMAZING. I related to like every word. I started my blog for a few of the same reasons you did. I love to write. I, like many other would like to make a career out of it. But, because of my own writing anxiety I also quit blogging. This was so encouraging. I am glad that I am not alone.

    • This comment was very encouraging to me too. I too always wanted to make a career out of it but now come to think of it…if I feel pressure when there are no deadlines, what will happen if there are?

      Plus, what would we do to unwind at the end of a long day of writing? Keeping up with the Kardashians is the only option left. :/

  6. Aw hey thanks for the shout-out!

    YES, blogging often feels like a job, and I hate that. I really have to be in the mood to write. If I am not in the mood, then I don’t write. That’s probably why I don’t have tons of views, oodles of follows, and haven’t been Freshly Pressed.

    I never fully get over social acceptance fears, especially because whatever I put on the internet can never be erased. What helps that is just proofreading and blind ambition. Maybe a dash of ladyballs in there.

    I started blogging mostly out of curiosity. What would I write? Would people like it? Would I like it? Would I get famous doing this? So far, it’s been really fun! I’ll continue to do it until it stops being fun…..

    • Seth Godin’s comment represents everything that I’ve been doing wrong. I can’t disagree with him because that pretty much what happened.
      But its also affirming in a way because that means I really shouldn’t care even if I’m out of commission for months on end. I’m doing it for myself and not for anyone else right?

  7. I first started blogging to log my experiences going back to school for my Masters. It is very different the 2nd time around after you’ve been out in the work force for a while. But I realized I like the digital side of marketing (still don’t know what I want to do with it) but thought this would push me to learn more about the social side of marketing, etc. Enjoy reading your blog and the “voice” you have when sharing your stories.

    • My friend has a marketing blog and she was asking me for tips on how to get out there. Those blogs I think require a different approach from a personal blog because you are targeting a specific audience.
      I do think though that personal touches go a long way which from your blog, it seems you already have that going! :)

      Thank you for your comment! “My voice” is ever ready to give its two cents on everything lol

  8. Us non-Freshly Pressed lot definitely feel sorry for the Freshly Pressed peeps. Really, we do.

    I started doing it ‘cos I wanted to write silly things, and become famous. Fame is harder to come by, than weird ideas.

    • Hahah I knew someone out there would feel true sympathy for us poor Freshly Pressed folk. Tons of people became famous for writing silly things and having weird ideas. That crazy bitch who wrote 50 Shades of Grey comes to mind.

      At the end of the day it really depends on if you are proud of what made you famous.

  9. I started blogging after being victimised and persecuted by the Police, Press and Media who drove me to insanity and suicide, first by accusing me of every crime they could pin on me and finally by ripping apart my abusive childhood and exposing the fact that I had been raped at the age of eleven to everyone I had kept it a secret from.

    Humiliated and debased in the worst way possible I was left without any friends or family I could trust and was seen as a cash cow by everyone around me.

    I did three years voluntary work and now have a CRB Advanced check certificate which shows my absolutely pristine criminal record, but after sixteen years of tricks, traps and con games my tormentors have finally walked away as they were unable to force me to commit any kind of criminal act.

    They still owe me £60,000 compensation that they promised, but I doubt if I’ll ever see it.

    Stripped of any normal social interaction I tuned to blogging and finally began to heal, but I am now a paranoid schizophrenic as a consequence of my persecution and will be for the rest of my life.

    I was raped twice in my life: Once by my abuser and again by the Police, Press and Media.

    All because I wouldn’t take a bribe…

    Love and hugs always! :)

    Prenin.

      • Hi hun! :)

        Yeah I almost DIDN’T make it, but in the end they ran out of things to do to me. :(

        Hard to believe that, after sixteen years of persecution they have walked away, but they did in the end.

        Needless to say I now have no love for the press and media, but at least the Police know I’m straight and I have documents to prove it.

        Unfortunately I have none of my old friends left so I’m sticking to my web friends and the people at church as they are the only ones that DIDN’T sell me out…

        Love and hugs always! :)

        Prenin.

  10. I mostly started blogging,,to write my feelings down and to find other people going thru what I was (depression). I can go back and read just how down in the dumps I was and how I slowly got broke out of the clouds.
    I love that I found you and other Canadian bloggers that I can laugh with, and read what’s going on in their minds and lives, so mainly I’m a big fat nosey person,,yaayy me!

  11. I had to make myself stop obsessing and getting frustrated over FP. I have yet to be pressed, but I am over it. I am getting what I want out of my blog regardless. Would I be excited if it happens in the future? Sure, but I am not actively trying to achieve just that goal. Don’t think that means I haven’t gone through the same slumps you mentioned though. In fact, if I hadn’t gotten involved with Movember, I would be stuck in a black hole of writers block right now.

    I always enjoy what you have to say. Keep writing for the right reasons. It will show.

    • As much as I loved the feeling of being Freshly Pressed, it isn’t by any means a measure of how good a writer you are or how earth-shattering your posts are. I got FP for a post I did on checking out guys at the gym :/
      The main benefit of it I found was that you get a decent following…which you actually already have without Freshly Pressed.
      So you’re already a winner here.

      Thank you for reading all my rants! You’re awesome and if we somehow ever meet in person I promise I will never call you Becky ;)

  12. Great Post – thanks for sharing your story! I started blogging to document my travels and adventures and love the creative process of writing:) People either accept me or not and that is okay because those ones who don’t are nothing to me and do not matter. Happy Tuesday:)

    • In that case, I should have given up long ago. The thing is, even if it is your passion, do you have to be on all the time? Can you have highs and lows with it?
      The problem is feelings are fickle. One day I feel great and blogging is a breeze. The next day I feel like crap and blogging feels like a chore. I don’t think that diminishes the fact that you are still passionate about blogging. Or does it?

  13. Luckily I don’t have to worry about whether I’m writing what I actually want to write or just writing to please an audience…one of the benefits of not having an audience! Since graduating i’ve been working in practical, hands-on jobs, so I enjoy the writing to keep my brain ticking over and hopefully not lose the critical thinking and writing skills I learned at Uni. Interesting post!

    • That’s pretty much how I started my blog. It was a private blog first where I wrote what I truly felt and wanted. Slowly I opened it up to some close friends. Everything went both uphill and downhill from there.

      I hear you on wanting to keep sane and literate with writing. I don’t know about you, but the more I write and the more I read the blogs of like-minded people, the more critical I get of other people’s facebook and texting grammar. I guess there’s always a downside to everything.

      Thank you for stopping by! :)

  14. What a great honest post. You should be proud enough for sticking with the blog for as long as you have. I think we all create a blog thinking we’ll be rich and famous soon enough. I’ve come to learn the purpose of a blog is to meet cool creative people while continuing to be cool and creative yourself. Feel no pressure, we’re only hanging on every word you use.

    • Awww thanks Tim! Isn’t a book deal secretly what we really want out of this WordPress stint? I think that’s what I have found too. A bunch of awesome like-minded people who you can relate to.
      I remember how pissed off you got when some woman got Freshly Pressed for writing about yogurt brands.
      Pretty sure that was when I subscribed to your blog.

      (I’m still holding on to the book dream though. You already got there. Twice.)

      • You should try self-publishing something. I didn’t even bother trying to get a book deal through an agent. I got tired of getting no responses from television and film agents it felt easier to do something all on my own. Give it a shot if it’s something you want to do. I wish I was popular enough where people were begging for my skills.

        And please do not remind me about the terrible yogurt Freshly Pressed. Whenever I think of bad blogging I think of that.

      • I really thought about. First off, I have to write a book. Breezyk and I decided we’ll take the rest of the year to formulate a book plan and then check back with each other in the new year about going through with it.
        Maybe they FPed that yogurt post by mistake. That’s the only thing we can tell ourselves.

    • Def follow through with the book idea! I say def because I always forget how to properly spell the whole word without spell check. It will make you girls feel really cool knowing you have something permanent created and out there for the world to see. Maybe this can be your test working together on the book to see if you can raise a child together?

  15. I started blogging for the exact same reason as you did. My life was a mess and I just needed it to get off my mind, of my cheast. Blogging truly made me feel happy and relieved. It was my kind of therapy really. Until the moment all kinds of people I knew started to follow me. My blogs got less personal and I found it harder and harder to write. Whilst I felt obligated to create new content. Entertain the audio. I lost my joy and will to blog.

    Realizing where I got wrong on that, I opened another blog (just click on my name) and made that the personal one. One I am not freely sharing with all of my friends and such. My other blog has become a place to just speak my mind. To get my opinion out in the open and well, entertain people. The best part, since I did that, I love to be a blogger again. The pressure is gone and I just try to keep up with it all, without pushing myself too much.

    • Marcos…you have just described my whole story. But what makes your story more awesome is that you started another blog! I can barely keep up with one so the idea of starting another sounds daunting. Plus I already have a written journal that I keep so all in all, there’s A LOT of writing.

      It definitely sounds like it has worked really well for you :D I guess it all about finding a balance and accepting things the way they are. Thanks for your comment. I could definitely relate!

  16. I started blogging a little over a year ago to write about books and share my thoughts. I’ve fluctuated a lot over the past year and at times it definitely felt like a chore. But I took a step back. Then I started writing about more than just books, so I felt like I was opening up and learning more about myself and the other people who commented. Does that make sense? I still contemplate what I write as I’m writing, trying to gauge how people may react; I need to learn to write for me.

    • Yeh, I think writing for the most part is a creative process. And with anything creative, I’ve learnt that you really have to change it up. Otherwise, it definitely feels and becomes a chore.
      Everything you said made perfect sense actually. But that’s the anxiety we have right? Will people react favorably to this or will they think its a load of crap.
      I found that people react better when they can sense you are being brutally honest. It makes you more real. At least to other people.

      • That’s a really good point about the honesty. There are so many people are there, we’re bound to connect with some on a good level, right?

        Personally, I think I try too hard to be funny and I think it can be very evident in my blog posts, so I end up staying away from it so as not to sound dumb or cheesy…though cheesy can be funny sometimes :)

      • You’d be surprised at how well a blog can do if you make cheesy humor your specialty. The success of that kind of humor is basically failure. And if you’re trying hard to fail, then that just means you’re so good that you have to try to fail. You really can’t go wrong here hahah.

  17. Awesome post, girl. When you’re honest and open like that, it’s even better than usual — and the usual is still really good!

    Sure, I’ve had my moments where I focus on wondering whether people are going to like what I wrote, I’m sure it happens to all of us. But along the way, I read something by another blogger that stuck with me — they said that they don’t press the Publish button on a post they’ve written unless they feel excited about pressing that Publish button. If I don’t feel that way, then I know the post is doomed from the start.

    Lately I’ve been feeling like I don’t have the heart to write a new post every week. So I’m not forcing it and it’s why I’ve gotten a bunch of people to write guest posts for me — people who I know have thought-provoking or inspiring experiences to share. I definitely don’t ever want to feel like this is a job!

    Janice :)

    • Thanks a lot Janice! :D
      Girl if I followed that blogger’s mantra, I would NEVER publish anything. I get a feeling of dread EVERYTIME I hit the publish button. This post especially!! And so far, not too many of my posts were doomed, so I guess I really need to learn how to just chill the heck out!

      Its true. We already have jobs. Blogging really doesn’t have to be another one of them. But guest posting is a pretty good idea. Keeps the blog active while someone else does the work. Hmmm…

  18. What a beautifully honest post. I have been blogging for over a year now and have yet to be (but am dying to be) Freshly Pressed. I have noticed that this desire has changed the way I write my posts. I started out wanting to have a site full of lengthy, well-written personal essays about teaching and traveling abroad, but as I became more familiar with the blogging community and which posts people actually read, I’ve shortened my essays, included more and larger pictures, and tried to come up with more catchy titles, rather than quirky, well-written ones. I now think of blogging as something completely different from writing. I’m still not sure if it’s a good or bad thing, but I can certainly relate more to the “FUCK OFF” stage when I write a blog post than I do when I sit down to write a travel article.

    • Hi Jessica,
      I know I’m really going to sound like a Freshly Pressed snob here hahah. I have mentioned this before to another commenter on this post. FP really isn’t about having well-written essays and well-researched arguments. Sometimes it is, but mostly its the very basic mind drivel that makes it on.
      The greatest thing about FP is that people find you.

      You’re totally on the right track for FP. Catchy titles and shorter posts are probably what will get WordPress’ attention. As for writing and blogging, I think you can do both. That’s the best kind of blog I think ;)
      Which stage of “Fuck off” where you able to relate to? Apparently my creative process has Fuck off at the beginning, end and EVERYWHERE in the middle :(

      Thank you for stopping by and for your comment! :)

  19. I started blogging in 1999 when I was in high school mostly because my mom wouldn’t quit reading my diary and she had no idea how to use a computer so I figure you know, I win.

    The internet has changed A LOT since then, especially in blogging. And I’ve changed since then. These days I do find it harder to find things to talk about… it was so much easier in high school! And sometimes I go months without saying anything even though I want to. My audience isn’t that big but I don’t want to feel like I’m rambling, even to myself.

    The only time it feels like a job is when I’m doing my book blog. Cause all of the deadlines :(

  20. I have always liked writing. One day in my doldrums of unemployment, I saw the Freshly Pressed page and thought that I should give it a go and the rest is history! I do think that my choice of writing a surfing related blog is kind of limiting. It makes you the AC/DC of blogging…you try to change but you are always have the same sound.

    You are also right about it feeling like a job sometime. Once, some situations were going on in the surf world and I did not blog about it. I felt like the employee who is caught sleeping in the janitors’ closet instead of being productive in the cubicle. I knew I just had to clear my head and do it for myself. So as of now, I am just plugging away at it…dreaming of being Freshly Pressed…and seeing if this writing gig will lead somewhere.

    Thanks for the entertaining posts!

  21. DUDE!!!!! I think you are great at what you are doing, and if you ever consider otherwise then I might…as I emotionally and pointlessly say so many times to me friends…sue you!! You are like so brilliantly awesome!!!
    And, secondly, never being freshly pressed I cant actually feel for you bit I know this much, if YOU are happy with what you write, it should be satisfactory enough!

    Best wishes and hopes, Gull.

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