It doesn’t matter if you bleed (A blogger’s manifesto)

writing

I am writing again, for the first time in more than a year.

Truth be told, I was a little overwhelmed by the success of the last piece, which was, ironically, about writers’ block and the need to overcome it. It didn’t go viral, but by the modest standards of this blog, it may as well have done. I was touched by the depth and breadth of the responses and determined to answer them all. For a while there, it seemed as if I’d finally broken the block, and something profound had occurred. Somewhere along the way though, that turned. I couldn’t face an empty page anymore.

I’m still not entirely sure why. Days turned into weeks and then into months and I wasn’t producing anything – in fact, I was more reluctant to write than ever before. Perhaps I worried subconsciously about the number of followers I’d gained and how I would follow the last piece, or perhaps my modest success had simply highlighted the futility of the whole thing (I am susceptible to existential malaise at the best of times). I realise that I am one of those people who are more frightened of success than failure. Go figure.

The truth – and one that I don’t think I touched on in that last piece – is that it also takes a certain amount of arrogance to expose your writing to the world, to believe what you’re saying is worth reading. That makes me uncomfortable. I questioned my deeper motives for blogging. My ultimate aim as a writer is to be authentic – to find my voice and remain true to that. Comments I’d happened to read from a number of successful bloggers worried me – that their blogs had become all-consuming and skewed their voices, to the point that they’d lost sight of who they were, as writers and as people.

But to echo my previous piece – to call myself a writer, I must write. To find my voice – an authentic voice – I must write even more. I’m still a perfectionist and I still don’t like a lot of my writing but the more I write, the easier it gets. I’ve subscribed to a few writers’ inspiration sites lately too and it’s reminded me again that the majority of us find it difficult, that first drafts often suck, and that perseverance is all. The alternative is to live in fear and live a life that feels forever unfulfilled.

As Hemingway put it: There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit at a typewriter and bleed.

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15 thoughts on “It doesn’t matter if you bleed (A blogger’s manifesto)

  1. Yes, that’s all that is there to writing. It’s all about first sitting down, just to write, which many of us fail to do often enough. (For several reasons, not just lack of discipline; it could be, for instance, a demanding day-job) And surely, a typewriter is far better to sit down with, for it is not ‘connected’, so one remains sitting, and does not go away. Then comes the bleeding part; it’s easier to do if one is not afraid of it. My suspicion is that the first, not sitting down just to write no matter what, is what holds many of us from bleeding, for one can’t bleed unless one is sitting down to do that, alone, everyday. Good luck. You are doing just great!

    • Thank you so much again Lohna. Interesting point about the typewriter but I doubt I could use one any more – so out of practice. I have yet to build up a proper writing practice but I am better at recording notes and ideas and fragments so slowly getting there – we shall see. Good luck with your writing too!

  2. I share your existential malaise! And your concern about maintaining an authentic voice in the face of some expectations (from whom? or of what?)
    On writing: yogis would say the hardest part of practice is coming to the mat; perhaps for writers that’s mirrored by arriving at the typewriter or desk.

    • yes – it’s like a metaphor for life too – the hardest part is just showing up. i guess all you can do is keep striving to be authentic – being aware is perhaps half the battle. good luck with your blog and your yoga practice!

  3. I’ve recently came to the same conclusion as you. Good to know I am not alone. Thank you for confirming my thoughts on the matter. Lovely read.

    • Good luck! it isn’t easy, as I wrote in another post, but if it’s something you feel you must do, the only way is to just do it : )

  4. I went through a very long drought. I am a writer, although I have no idea what genre or for which platform. But everyone who reads always gives very positive feedback. Thanks for sharing your struggles! Nothing beats a “real” person. Happy Writing!!

    • You’re welcome – and good luck to you! The more you write, I suspect the more you’ll find your voice and what you really want to write about..

  5. I will have to think about whether it is arrogance that motivates writing to a public audience. I am very new to blogging but have written more in a couple of weeks then in a lifetime of failed attempts at diary-keeping. To me there was always something inauthentic and pretentious about writing ‘Dear Diary’. I am still struggling with whether I want my blog (thoughts) out there for the world to read but there is no denying that the imaginary audience feels easier to speak to. If that audience became very real by way of high numbers of likes or follows I am not sure how I would feel. Interesting.

    • Yes – it’s a tough one – I read your post on sharing just now and I know where you’re coming from. I always wonder whether it’s the Brit in us – there’s a natural reticence when it comes to oversharing culturally, I think. But I’m also always a little disappointed when I read blogs and I don’t see anything about the author, unless there’s clearly a reason why anonymity is important. I guess this is something every blogger has to figure out for themselves..

      • Absolutely. Seeing pictures lets us in that little more and helps us decide if they are ‘our kind of people’, someone we want to be ‘friends’ with. And if you like their style it pulls you in. I have no problem sharing photos while I think no one is really looking. But am I compromising my children’s right to privacy? Just to try to grab attention? And yet the inspiration for my blog is to document my day to day and of course that includes pictures of them, and our life. It is definitely not an easy one to answer.

  6. Having recently started my own blog, I am still very much trying to find my voice. Since read this article however, I have found that it is okay to doubt your style, your drafts. And despite this anxiety, I feel inspired to continue, regardless of this doubt, to hit the publish button.
    This is a beautiful blog and so wonderfully written!!

    • Millie – thank you. Stopped by your blog – you’re doing great! Beautifully written and presented – just keep pushing that publish button – the doubts and anxiety are natural. All the very best to you : )

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