Note to self: Write something dammit!
So, I started a blog with the seemingly realistic goal of posting every month or so.. at first, I exceeded that with weekly ramblings that seemed to just flow through my brain to my fingers and off the keyboard into the vast beyond known as the internet.. and Middlemindblog was off and running.. I wrote of things I loved; exercise, pets, family, relationships, books and midlife mishaps.
Then, the well went dry. It wasn’t that there weren’t things to write about. There were. There are. But I just couldn’t get to the next step. There was a roadblock of sorts and I decided to take a break and recalibrate.
I needed to decide what my motivation for writing really was. Obviously not money. I get no commercial reimbursements from this. Not fame. I have a small number of readers and get the occasional feedback but that’s not what drives me. From the start, it was mainly a creative outlet, but also a form of connecting with others, a forum to share thoughts and ideas, and yes, even a therapeutic pursuit.
Writing has long been a way for people to vent their feelings in a more or less healthy way (hence the diaries and journals of youth). But for several months, I felt stymied. I was tentative about putting my thoughts out there for the world (albeit a very small portion of the world) to see.
You see, I’d been called out. And what did I expect? Put yourself out there, and the critics flock. In my case, someone took offense to my tongue in cheek post about dressing for work (Closet Chaos) and felt I was being snarky in my comments about wearing jeans to work (which ironically I do wear on casual fridays) and furthermore told a family member, who mentioned that maybe I’m not coming across as so “nice”.
After my initial defensive reaction (how dare they tell me what I can or can’t write about on my blog!) – I retreated. I was cautious and I worried about that every word I wrote might potentially offend someone. And it sucked the energy and creativity out of something that had always been a sacred outlet for me. My writing.
And then, the universe intervened and I came across a column written by a very well known blogger who had herself faced a lot of criticism (and some downright hatefulness) as she became more and more well known. Her solution was to treat most of this feedback simply as junk mail or spam. She took the constructive comments and the thoughtful disagreements to heart, but put the rest in the “trash” file.
And so I did some thinking. Took a writing hiatus. And I recalibrated.
I made a decision to hold myself to these three tenets when I wrote:
1. Write from the heart about things you feel passionate about.
2. Don’t worry about offending others when simply sharing an opinion.
3. By the same token, don’t ever use your writing to ridicule or embarrass others to make a point.
In this era of social media and the accompanying ability to air ones feelings safely and somewhat anonymously from the comfort of home, a car, the stall in a public restroom – or virtually anywhere, it’s tempting to let ideas, criticism and yes, judgments fly with little to no repercussions for doing so. And that can be a double edged sword. Yes, it’s great to have access to reach millions of potential readers, but how do we “keep it nice”?
I often find myself second guessing my own commentary to the point of over censoring. For example, I rarely if ever, post anything political, anything that can be construed as religious judgement or the dreaded form of “humble bragging” that I’m sure I’ve managed to do regardless of said efforts.
So then, what does that leave? Recipes, cute pet anecdotes, exercise tips? Which by the way can also be annoying (along with those ads for health shakes and diet programs). Sigh..
I guess the lesson learned is that anything we write can, and will offend someone. The litmus test is whether or not the writer intended to do so and to what end? Or could it just be that a person is simply sharing their point of view with the rest of the world? And it doesn’t have to be agreed with or applauded or even acknowledged. It. Just. Is.
And that, my friends (or whoever maybe still be reading this) is how I plan to write from here on out. Just sharing my thoughts, ideas and other gobbledygook with whoever finds their way to this blog!
So, here’s to the writer in all of us. May your words inform, comfort, entertain, endear and cause others to stop and reflect . And maybe, just maybe share some thoughts of their own. I’m just glad to be writing again!