We’re halfway through the year and I’ve managed to publish a grand total of zero blog posts.
*pats self on the back*
It’s not exactly from lack of effort, though. Trust me when I say I’ve been thinking of how to come back to this place almost everyday…and failing.
I draft words in my head and they just happen to not make it here. Totally effective, right?
Well, I actually put my fingers to use and typed up a draft a month ago, but couldn’t bring myself to publish it.
So, what the hell is wrong with me and why have I lost my ability to write on here? And more importantly, what am I doing about it?
That requires a bit of a history lesson.
Where it all Started
When I first started blogging back in May 2013, I had a few goals: connect with the personal finance community, learn from others, and maybe inspire one or two other people through my journey.
As we all know, goals tend to evolve over time as life changes. And that’s exactly what happened here.
Just one year into blogging, I decided it was a good idea to get into freelance writing, like everyone else around me was. I had quit my job to move, and had nothing lined up – what did I have to lose?
Apparently, my passion for writing.
Freelance writing is a totally different beast than simply writing for your own blog. There are layers of expectations and a multitude of guidelines that need to be followed. Some editors want you to write about your personal experiences, but most want you to write for SEO/Google because “that’s what works.”
That’s fine, but I made a huge mistake here: I kept thinking I had to apply what I was learning to my own blog. If I didn’t write about what was trending, or what keywords were popular, or what other people seemed to want to read, I shouldn’t publish anything.
After all, how could I lower my standards for my own blog while writing better pieces for others?
Yeah, like I said, biiiiiiig mistake.
I didn’t start a blog to appear on the first page of search results. I didn’t start a blog to monetize it. I didn’t start a blog to become internet famous, or to get a book deal.
I started because it was a way to join two things I was passionate about: writing, and personal finance.
But somewhere along the way, I got caught up in the success stories of others. I wanted to follow their narrative. The one with tens of thousands of dollars in income each month, hundreds of thousands of page views, engaged subscribers, pretty editorial calendars, and picture-perfect, active social media accounts.
The problem with all of that? It’s not me. None of it is. Unfortunately, I was surrounded by it, so I kept internalizing it as wow, I must be doing something wrong, because I’m nowhere near that level! I must include awesome pictures with all of my posts, promote them, and post interesting crap on social media!
So subconsciously, I pulled away from it – which meant pulling away from this blog.
Time away gave me some much needed perspective. I finally realized that the simplest answer is to go back to why I started in the first place: to write.
Writing is an Art
Writing – to me – is an art form. It’s one of the truest ways I can channel my creativity (besides making badly photoshopped images).
To say that my creativity had been zapped in the past year would be an understatement.
After shedding all of my freelance writing gigs, I had intended to come back here in full force, but mental blocks had other ideas.
I kept feeling like I wasn’t good enough. My blog, my writing, my voice – none of it was enough. With so many other blogs out there, it felt like the personal finance space was saturated with the same old, same old.
It wasn’t inspiring.
However, I noticed that the few writers who were inspiring me were breaking the so-called rules of blogging and writing for themselves.
Wow. Talk about a revelation.
As bloggers, we’re taught to write for our audience. We should give them value because they’re taking the time out of their day to read our stuff.
I don’t necessarily disagree with that on the whole, but writing for others isn’t what inspires me (and it creates a lot of unneeded pressure). I don’t want to be confined to boundaries when I write, and that’s exactly what blogging had become.
Here’s the Experimental Part
So I’m turning that on its head. I’m not going to write for others; I’m going to write about the ideas I have floating around in my head. One – because I know I’m not the only one thinking about them, two – because I’m inspired to, and three – because it’s time for an experiment without a concrete destination. I just want to enjoy the ride.
And although you can relate almost everything back to money, that more than likely isn’t going to be the focus of this place anymore. My philosophy on finance has evolved so much since starting this blog that it’s almost unbelievable.
That philosophy isn’t fueled by simple statements like “everyone needs to budget!” or “track your spending!” or “stop buying coffee!” (Please kill me if that ever happens.) Those also aren’t ideas that inspire me. Well, coffee fuels inspiration sometimes. ;)
I’m not going to follow an editorial calendar. I’m not going to force myself to write super long detailed posts. I’m not going to limit myself. I’m also not going to turn this into a chore.
Yeah, trying something without really knowing where you’re going is scary. But the alternative is to keep drafting posts in my head, and no one benefits from that.
The truth is, I miss writing, but I’ve been wanting to do something completely different, and fear has kept that from happening.
So I’m going to toss all the old shit aside and pretend like there’s nothing but a blank canvas to fill every time I write here. I might get personal, I might get even more over-analytical (that’s always fun), and I might fail. But doing nothing is failing anyway, right?
If you’re still here tapping your foot, waiting for a more solid explanation, here’s what I can say: I’ve been reading some interesting books on habits, change, behavioral economics, and happiness, all of which have kept me thinking.
I love material that challenges my beliefs and systems, and I want to share those thoughts and knowledge. So you’ll see a bit of that, along with ‘lifestyle-y’ types of posts, and whatever else I feel like throwing in.
This is my little corner of the internet, and it’s time I own it. Point being: I don’t want to write something I wouldn’t enjoy reading (or writing!).
Small side note — I don’t regret any of the choices I made as they got me to where I am today. I’m very grateful for the opportunities I had, because I realized what it was I truly wanted from those experiences.
Similarly, just because something isn’t for me doesn’t mean it’s inherently wrong. The problem arises when there are one or two ‘standards’ for success which everyone measures themselves against, causing them to forget that there are other, better standards out there for them. Because success doesn’t mean the same thing for everyone, nor should it.