I’ve been absent from blogging and writing for a couple of months now. While it was a needed break in some ways, the thought of blogging has consistently filled my mind anytime I had the free space to think about it. It’s hard to admit it, because it is being open about my procrastinating tendencies, but at the same time there is a deeper reason to why I haven’t written or blogged consistently even though I have the strong urge to do so; and it’s an urge I’ve experienced for a long time (honestly, since my middle school days!).
I’ve had the time and space to do a lot of reflecting about why I find the act of blogging so challenging, despite my internal compass all pointing to it as something I enjoy doing and want to do. What is stopping me? What has been stopping me?
Dreams are safer in my head.
I am an avid daydreamer, and have been one for as long as I can remember. Daydreams were a great outlet for my vivid imagination as a kid, and I could spend hours in my head without doing anything else. As I got older, daydreaming became a coping mechanism to escape from my present reality, a reality that was often not pleasant. My daydreams were where I created idyllic and fulfilling futures where I got to be the person I wanted to be and do the things I’ve dreamt of doing. I lived a purpose-filled life in my daydreams and in the “future me” I cultivated in my head. It was easier to keep the dreams to the future version of me instead of present me, because that required work and things not working out the way I could visualize and dream up in my head.
I’m used to keeping my dreams in my head rather than executing on it, because in my head, my dreams go exactly how I want it to go. When I try to carry it over from my internal world into the outside world, there is the potential for things to go wrong, to mess up, to break down, to get criticized, and to…fail.
It is also easy to make these “dreams” into a bigger deal than it has to be. For example, when it comes to the dream of being a writer, I have spent years dreaming of what life would be as a writer, so I’ve grown attached to this *idea* of being a writer I’ve imagined and it gets really personal. When I put myself out into the external world as a writer and actually write, it’s hard not to take any kind of *thing* personally, whether it be judging my own writing skills or getting feedback from others. Everything feels like a big deal and it can get overwhelming quickly. Of course, my first reaction (very much a survival strategy) is to want to run back into myself with my ideas and words and keep it safe within myself. Safe from critique and judgment, a perfect vision that only I can see and can continue to give me hope.
I imagine this is the same for anyone who has a dream, perhaps a dream that feels really big. We end up becoming our own obstacles and are the ones stopping ourselves from pursuing our dreams. It’s counterintuitive, but keeping it safe, private, and secure is of course, very tempting.
I want to share about my life experiences. But I struggle with the self-centered nature of this work.
I feel drawn to write and share my life experiences and the many thoughts I have around to living and encountering the world. But another aspect that is holding me back from blogging freely and truly embracing writing is…the shame I feel around wanting to document my life. The shame tells me this work is self-centered and pointless. It tells me it is narcissistic behavior even though I rationally recognize that is an extreme thought since narcissism is a very real mental health disorder.
To critique and feel shame for my own desire to write and make art, I realize, is exhibited from low self-esteem and a trauma response to not having a childhood where I was encouraged to play and have a creative outlet centered around myself. Through years of processing and working on my healing, it is not uncommon for Asian immigrant girls to be raised this way, especially the oldest child. There are cultural and gender dynamics to this but essentially from a young age immigrant children are told to keep quiet and their head down, to not fuss or make trouble. For girls, they are told to read and prioritize everyone else’s emotions (especially mens) except their own because that’s what a “girl” or “woman” should do.
So in a way since I was not really taught to prioritize myself or cultivate my own sense of identity but instead to please everyone else around me, of course doing something that gives me joy and prioritizes myself feels…shameful! I have often struggled with “what gives me a right to do this? to do something that I enjoy so much? To center on my own life and experience?” To ask for permission, and waiting for someone to tell me that it’s okay I go for it.
I’m still learning to resist the shame. To know that I have a right to self-expression and prioritizing myself. It gives me a sense of purpose to know that each time I write and make art, I am resisting the forces that are trying to keep me in submission and silent. I refuse silence, I have a voice and I want to share it with the world.
The practicalities of blogging are not encouraging. “Monetization” requires clickbait and everyone is saying written blogs are becoming irrelevant as video takes over.
Since I’ve known for a long time I wanted to blog, I started reading blogs when blogs were “the thing” on the internet. I followed and read so many blogs and felt certain this was something I wanted to do too. In the last 5 years, the landscape of blogging and content creation on the internet has changed a *lot*.
First, blogging became much more mainstream and was something most businesses, especially online businesses adopted, since blogs and “content” are a way to connect with your audience in a more organic way. As technology and internet marketing got more built out, blogs became another type of marketing. As I studied bloggers and people who shared their income reports making a LOT of money (like hundreds of thousands dollars a month), I quickly learned that these bloggers made their money by advertisements, affiliate sales, and sponsorships. Their main strategy is to get as much traffic to their site as possible and once they land readers, they can market and sell things by reviewing or recommending various things. Yep, that’s the idea of what a blog looks like in modern days.
And it’s incredibly frustrating. Maybe I’m being overly idealistic but I still hold onto the idea that a “blog” is essentially an online public journal. Gone are the days where the most prominent blogs are people documenting and writing out their lives or sharing creative non-fiction writing, but rather nowadays people are blogging and writing to get traffic and clicks.
I’ve thought long and hard about this (by long, I mean at least 5 years) and whether I wanted to try creating a typical monetized blog. But I’ve come to accept that I just can’t do it without ethical qualms. I want to write for the sake of writing, documenting, and creatively expressing myself. I’m not trying to create clickbait articles and generate traffic to make money off of commissions of affiliate sales. It’s certainly tempting and it’s something I know I have the skills to do, but I just don’t feel good about it.
The other discouraging aspect of blogging, especially now in 2022 with Youtube and Tiktok being the big creator platforms, is that people keep reiterating (such as Instagram’s CEO) that video is the next big thing. Photos and writing are becoming less relevant. But…is that true? I don’t buy it. There are many of us that are not Gen Z who grew up in an age of words and still images that I believe will continue wanting to consume content in this way. I also noticed that newsletters are also quite big these days and people are actively engaging with it, and yet, it’s not talked about as much as the video industry. I’m assuming because the video industry is making a lot more money and more advertising-friendly.
Part of me wanting to write is to share it with other humans and connect with others through this medium. It is discouraging to be told that no one is reading anymore, and they are just watching videos. In real life I know that is not true, reading isn’t going anywhere. Words on the internet and words in books are not going anywhere. And sure it is also discouraging to think I may not be able to make money from blogging and writing in the way I want to, because it’s not clickbait capitalism. I’m hoping the intrinsic motivation and reward from doing this act is enough fro me.
Yes. To Blog.
To answer the question posed in the title of this post…my answer is yes, to blog. There may be a lot of obstacles limiting me and preventing me from doing so. But I want to write because writing is how I process the world, it helps me document my life and experiences, and it’s something I feel very much drawn to. I don’t need to understand this pull towards writing or try to explain it or try to justify it. I can just do it.
If doing it and writing inherently gives me joy, that is already plenty of reason to do it. Sure, I hope for others to read my words and that my writing can be something bigger than just something that gives me joy. I want my words to help others feel less alone. I want my words to make a difference. I want my words to feed a purpose greater than my own joy and interest. But to rely on that external motivation and validation is not sustainable. It is not guaranteed how my words will interact with the world once it is out there, so it is not something I can hope for to happen with certainty. The best I can do is to follow the intrinsic motivation and urges, and fulfill my own desires with my writing. If these words positively impact another human, then that’s a nice bonus.
To Blog. To Write.
What will it take for me to write consistently? To write openly? To write judgment-free? To write to process because *I* want to?
You know how they say that sometimes we limit ourselves because we are scared of failure but maybe a part of us is also scared of success. Sitting and chilling in our own disappointment pool or “never try, never fail” puddle is comfortable and safe. Why risk something so close to our hearts? Why risk facing conflict and hard times when it can all be concealed safely in our internal worlds?
Well, I’m recognizing keeping it inside of me is just…not doing it. My tendency to block my own self expression and creativity results in feeling constantly blocked and near-explosive status. This manifests as irritability, annoyance, and anxiety. Because I’m stopping myself from pursuing what I most want, but the reasoning to do it is to be safe… I’ve envied artists who let themselves do things because they want to. Out of pure joy. Especially those who can do things without needing external validation or a “reason” to go on with their craft. I know I am capable of that too. I want to stop limiting myself, stop distracting myself from what is important to me. Why be an obstacle to my self? Let’s stop self sabotaging. And do nothing but self advocacy.
Write. Write. Write. How else am I going to discover what else lies within and beyond, if I don’t write. write. write?