One writer’s failed journey to discovery, resulted in positive self-reflection
Inspiration? Check the lost and found. Overwhelmed, frustrated, and confused. Three little words that describe a writing journey from 2016 to 2020. When I first started publishing my writing for the world to see it scared me, but my heart was a bright beacon. Fearful of what others might think, may say, or not say, I refused to let fear seclude me. The new writer, a nobody, a small minnow, and a newbie. An inspired writer staring at the keyboard, anxious to greet the noisy world of better writers.
This journey started with writing whatever it was trying to spill from my head. There were a lot of thoughts, odd views of the world around me, and unique experiences filed away. I had a bold new view on sharing the thousands of words within my journals.
A bright direction
After a few first posts, I began seriously researching how to improve as a writer. I was on fire and motivated. What could I do that would encourage people to read what I had to say? I was soon engulfed with hundreds of articles from successful writers stating the one key element that truly shut me down in the end, “publish fast, publish every day.” Wow. Could this be the answer? After all, the more you had out in the vast ocean, the more chances someone may catch you, right? It sounded great, and it works for some.
Most of my writing by this point had a lot of research behind it. Oh yes, the personal joy of a rabbit hole. I enjoy learning new things and find the thrill of research and endless possibility to be part of who I am. From my first science fiction novel, “Chasing Benevolence,” to the other random posts or articles I had on Medium and a personal blogging site, I would always take great care in piecing things together. I wanted others to enjoy and attempt to dive into my world. Feel the story that danced behind the curtain in my head.
I eventually changed direction and started pushing posts more often. After some time, I found myself disappointed in my work and I lost my writing voice. A voice that took years to find and understand. The posts I completed were uninteresting and bland. Creating quality writing pieces at a quick speed is not something I am good at. Eventually I found the courage to press delete. This broke me.
Suddenly, I didn’t wake up every day eager to outline my next piece of writing or research. I struggled to find the momentum I once had with creative writing. Drive and inspiration disappeared. I’m not saying posting often is wrong or right, it just didn’t work for me. With balancing a full-time job and trying to produce quality posts often, I slowly drove an unbreakable steel rod between me and my genuine love, writing.
Focus attention on a niche
I’ve struggled with finding a personal writing niche that could make me stand out. Looking through millions of examples, reading expert opinion, and using writing exercises to discover what I am truly good at and enjoy writing. This was one of the most difficult processes for me to figure out. How could I limit my writing to only one niche? My brain will not stay on one path. Rabbit hole enthusiast, remember? There were many subjects and topics that interested me. Keeping the red tape around me was a huge mistake which affected my creativity. The feeling of staying within one lane only made my inspiration crumble. I had to write what I wanted and organize these ideas to suit each unique audience.
This gal is a technophile, science fiction dreamer, photographer, and outdoor enthusiast. Do you see the problem here? I can’t blend my true interests with ease. All are unique. Some of these interests can tie into the same audience, but this gets tricky, and I knew to avoid the risk of pushing readers away with an immediate change of the normal topics. For this, I’ve accepted the fact I don’t have one niche and have found creative ways to balance each on its own beautiful pedestal.
- Instagram — A photography and adventure platform.
- Medium — Catch most writing. Posting in relevant publications.
- Personal Blog — A creative writing and photography platform.
A social frenzy
During this timeframe, I also found many writers that would swear by posting on social media often. I did this, and it worked for a while. However, my view of using social media as a method to get your writing noticed was a bit off. I assumed this would help me build a real following, find like thinkers, make genuine relationships with people who shared the same interest that I did, and connect with people who honestly liked to read my writing (at least every once in a while). However, I didn’t have a plan or anything in place that I could stick to. Plus, I couldn’t take part as often as I should have.
Eventually two things happened. The first, I ended up with too many social media accounts to follow and manage. Big fat mistake. I was terrible at hitting publish regularly. How did I honestly believe I would remember continuous involvement in all platforms, all the time? The second issue I found was the unexpected loss of true engagement. For two years, I built a following of over 9k on Twitter (this is a lot to me) and I couldn’t keep a genuine conversation or engagement going if my life depended on it.
Perhaps it had everything to do with too many followers. Poor engagement quickly overwhelmed my thoughts. I found many conversations on Twitter are misunderstood or just ugly. I am one for encouragement and inspiration. Twitter has this, you just have to know where to find it, manage your time wisely, and have a logical goal.
For some, social media works. If you are one that can balance the online social frenzy and keep up with writing quality posts, you have it going on! In the end, this was not something I enjoyed or could handle.
An end and beginning
In October 2020, I hit delete on all of my social media accounts and changed my personal writing blog, deleted all the random posts that I believed were not of quality and started over. Noting the few followers who I felt were friends and faces of encouragement. The only account I have maintained with little change is Instagram (primarily for sharing my photography) and Medium. During the restart, I’ve updated my personal blog in a way that makes sense and carefully organized the posts I share on that specific platform. I have a small following on all three and the connections make me happy.
Through the journey of up, down, regret, and confusion, I realize three things that apply to my writing and vision. You may find these helpful too.
- Write when and how you want to write. Don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to keep up with a social norm if it doesn’t work for you. If quality is what you’re after and you can’t make it work with quantity, then take the time to make it work.
- Stop focusing on the numbers. Focus on small accomplishments and make genuine connections through your writing. Yes, we write so that others may read. But taking the small wins for granted will only burn you out and may impede true connections.
- Don’t compensate if it means losing a piece of yourself. After all, no writer wants to hit delete on hard work and every writer wants to feel a sense of accomplishment with each unique piece you share. Especially if what you’ve written has made a positive impact on another human being. A-ma-zing!
I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination. — Jimmy Buffett
Over the last four years, I made many mistakes. However, I am grateful I had the courage to try a change. This only makes me a stronger writer with a clear vision in the end. This year I have changed my writing strategy for me. I will continue writing what I love on my own terms. Writing quality pieces and taking the time I need to do it. Engagement is something I love but will never again sacrifice quality over quantity in order to get it. These are the two biggest factors that make me a writer I can be proud of and keep the words flowing! I have accepted the fact that one ‘perfect’ process does not fit all and some writers (like me) can define success through their own terms.
I may be a small somebody, but I remain an inspired somebody. I may not be known by many, but I am noticed by a few — and this will always be enough.
Writing inspiration found, not lost.
Thanks for reading!