You guys, sorry for the big lapse … but I’ll admit it: I totally burned out on blogging.
I’ve never been great at being consistent in my writing, because I have limited hours of childcare and I tend to prioritize client work during that time, so content creation gets pushed aside in favor of design.
I also have a lot of fears around hitting that “publish” button: what if nobody reads it, and I’ve just wasted all this time writing without any purpose? what if it’s not useful to anyone, or people just get more confused after reading it because it sounds like gibberish? what if EVERYONE reads it and my business blows up overnight and my servers crash and I’m not ready for the viral marketing? (yeah right!)
All of the fears are total internal crazy talk, part of my variation on the Impostor Complex, but because of it, writing has become a big scary behemoth that I try to avoid.
I spent my spring working with a business coach, Megan Flatt, as part of her Mama Mastermind, and during that process, we came up with a new offering “Blogging is Hard Enough,” as a way to introduce myself to new clients with a package of blog image creation. To promote the offering, I did a 5-day e-mail series, which took much more time than I expected to put together, because I’m not in the habit of writing consistently so I hit a lot of internal resistance and writer’s block. By the time the launch was over, I felt like I could never write another word … which was ridiculously ironic, because I’d just done a mini-course on how to make blogging easier.
The launch was a major success, but the sudden spike in blogging left me burned out, and the irony made me feel like a fraud.
Since the course finished in July, I’ve been walking a fine line between fear of blogging and guilt around not blogging. My editorial calendar sits on the corner of my desk, gathering dust.
And then this morning, I got in my car, turned on my podcast app, and started listening to an amazing interview: Elizabeth Gilbert interviewing Brene Brown. It starts with Liz asking Brene what creativity is, and here is her incredible response:
Creativity is … the way I share my soul with the world, and without it, I am not ok. Without having access to everyone else’s, we are not ok. The only unique contribution we will make in this world will be born of creativity. …
I used to believe, before I did the research for The Gifts of Imperfection, that there were creative people and non-creative people. Now I absolutely understand, personally and professionally, from the data, that there are no such thing as non-creative people; there are just people who use their creativity and people who don’t. And unused creativity is not benign.
I. was. floored. I probably should have pulled over the car to really think about that concept, because it left my mind feeling a little loopy.
I used to love writing. It was an outlet for me. In my childhood bedroom at my parents’ house, bookshelves overflow with journals of all my teenage thoughts and fears. They chronicle my spiritual awakening, discernment and frustration. They spill over with my unrequited love and heartbreak. And in the basement of my house are journals from my single-lady days in Boston, extolling the amazing joy of living alone, the excitement of a new long-distance relationship (which ended in moving to Saratoga and marrying that awesome guy), the decisions of finding a new job and discovering my purpose.
But once I started my business, that all went away. All my free time went into design and marketing and reading business books and client acquisition strategies and profit margins and other things that used to sound foreign and suddenly became fascinating.
My free-time activity went from expression to absorption, and in the process, I started to lose my love of writing, I started to forget my voice.
Writing became a chore instead of a passion, because for the first time I was worrying about my audience’s reaction and about sharing my knowledge instead of writing from my heart.
Parrish Wilson also wrote about this recently:
If you have chosen this creative business online path, you know the extent to which you must create everyday and how hard that can be when you are depleted, distracted, worn out and tired. Sick, overwhelmed and empty. … Constant creation doesn’t nourish creativity. It depletes it.
I don’t have a solution to this yet, but I’ve decided that instead of hiding my burn out & feeling the guilt of not creating content, I’ll choose to lean into it by sharing this thought with you.
I may never be a consistent blogger. But I’m going to try to set myself more realistic expectations and decide to blog about things that are important to me instead of worrying about sharing things that I feel like I should write about. And my writing won’t be perfect (see the previous sentence ending on a preposition, which I feel like I should rewrite), but so what? This is me, this is who I am, this is how I write.
So if you’re looking for design tutorials, look elsewhere. If you expect weekly (or even monthly) posts, adjust your expectations. I may eventually continue my series on “Design Q&A” to decode designspeak, but for right now, I need to take a break from the should writing and get back to the love writing. Because I’d like to return to an experience of writing that brings me joy, and I’d like to share that joy with you.
It’s time for me to share my soul with the world again … because as Brene says, without that creativity in my written word, I am not ok.