In this social media world, I find myself overwhelmed. Not knowing how to effectively use most of these sites is one mountain to climb, but the other is the internal struggle of not wanting to find myself obsessing and stressing over if a piece I wrote was “liked”, commented on and/or shared.
As writers we are part of the genre of Artists, expressing ourselves in the most raw of ways for the entire world to see and pick apart. That alone can be quite terrifying. When you add to the mix the “Did anyone like this,” “No one commented,” “Man, it got zero shares,” you add an anxiety to the whole process of writing which was originally supposed to be cathartic. For me, writing is healing. It’s the one tool in the box that I can always rely on to help me move through circumstances and life in general. It’s how I speak to the world and it’s how the world speaks to me, in turn. I find myself not wanting to write many days because I’m more concerned with who, if anyone, this piece will appeal to, than just writing because this thing inside of my gut screams for me to do so.
I’ve never been that big of a fan of social media, to begin with. I am that person that would rather read a borrowed book with pages beginning to fall out than to hop online and download it or buy it new. Mainly because of the story the book itself tells with its overly-used history stored in the folds of its pages. In this technological era everything seems so untouched, new. There is no nostalgia in that first smell of cracking open a book that’s been closed for years. There’s no feeling of connection between you and all of the readers who came before you. I post my writings so effortlessly online and it is as if they’ve gone into nothingness. A void that I cannot touch. Those pieces that kept me up for days and nights in kind, gnawing and tugging at my brain and heart combined to put down on paper, I scribble them down and send them off to oblivion. The only way knowing if they’ve been well received or identified with, by the “likes” and comments to follow. It seems so sterile and disconnected. Each piece being like a newly born child brought forth of me and here I am willingly looking to be told how pretty or hideous this baby is! It feels wrong, somehow.
I’ve sat around the past few days, discouraged at the thought that maybe this voice of mine is not what the public wants to read. Maybe it is only for me, and instantly I realized that YES, IT IS only for me! I began writing as a pre-teenager (now 33ish) and never once showed my work to anyone. Only a friend or two in my lifetime was ever given the opportunity to read anything I’ve written and they usually had to be nosy enough to sneak to read it, than it to be handed to them by me to read. I never wrote for others approval or regard. I wrote for myself. I wrote because what was inside my being needed to come out. I wrote because I HAD TO. There was no telling it to go away and that need, actually listening. It comes with a sense of urgency and desperation that must be acknowledged and carried out. Even if it’s in the middle of the night when I’d much rather be asleep.
Writing is violent and unrestrained. It is a breaking away of disguises and an all-inclusive, unfiltered pass into our emotions and psyche. It is everything within us clawing its way out into a world of criticism and indifference. It is as necessary as the air we breathe for some of us and we have dumbed it down to being as casual as a “like” or “follow.” We are going to ruffle feathers and make people feel things they may not want to or never have. We will bring cause for self-examination and self-realization, just as it was brought to us. In doing so, that may not come with an approval or compliment and may lose us a reader. When I think about all of the greats among time in every aspect, I ask myself if they stopped to care how many people followed them? In their case, LITERALLY followed them. Or if they paid attention to if anyone liked what they were presenting? Did Buddha or Jesus get discouraged by the amount of people who weren’t following them? Maybe they did, but they definitely did not let it stop them from sharing their truths! Not that I am comparing myself or any writer to a God-form by any means, only as an example to say – all of the ones who were, are and have made any difference to anyone in history were often met with skepticism, negative feedback, ridicule or silence.
For any one who is or has been as discouraged as I have been lately with your writing and has let it hold hostage your dream and vision — Our work is not measured by the amount of followers we have, the number of “Likes” that we get or the total of “Shares” our work has received. We write because it is what we are urged, called and purposed to do. We write because it is our passion and is what drives us to be better as human beings. We write to share our experiences and hopefully help someone out there who needs an outlet of their own and has not yet found one. This is our art. We should be proud of our work no matter the feedback! How can we accept this gift that the Universe has bestowed and then question that gifts worth once we unwrap it?! We are certainly doing it a huge disservice by second-guessing such a blessing given. Show your work with pride and stand behind each word as if it were your precious child needing your unwavering approval. WE ARE WRITERS, JUST WRITE!!