Just When I Thought I Was Out

They pull me back in.

I’ve been writing on this blog for one year now, and I still have the same lingering thought day after day.

Should I shut my website down, or should I keep writing?

I’ve gone back and forth on this topic so many times it makes my head spin. Sometimes the words come so effortlessly, and that makes me feel so proud and energetic. When the words don’t come so easily, the energy and confidence don’t come with it. Lately, it’s felt like the latter.

But I keep coming back. I told myself today that I was going to take a break from writing (again). It’s been tough lately, and I haven’t been getting the same satisfaction that I usually do.

Even still, I can’t pull myself away from it.

Writing is a nagging itch in my brain, but the practice of blogging has taught me many lessons in my first year. Hopefully, you can learn from my mistakes.

1. Being yourself is hard

It sounds like the easiest advice in the world, but it’s so difficult to follow.

First, there’s the issue of knowing exactly what to write. It sounds weird, but 60% of the time I have no idea what I’m going to write about until I finish. I’ll start off with one idea and realize at the very end that I wrote about something totally different.

And that’s okay. Nobody has to know what the idea was at the beginning. The only thing that matters is the result.

Second is a problem of balance. People write online to gain an audience that enjoys and discusses their ideas. Humans are social animals. It makes us feel good when other people like us and agree with us.

meditate awareness
Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash

But this is a slippery slope. If you start caring too much about what your audience thinks, your writing will suffer. If you don’t care what your audience thinks at all, you may not get any readers.

It’s a tough spot to be in, and one that I currently struggle with. My solution is to focus on unique ideas instead of the feedback. People will always be interested in new ideas whether they like them or not.

The goal of writing after all isn’t to have the most readers. It’s to have the best writing, and good writing comes from good ideas. Focus on the inputs before the outputs.

2. Building an audience is difficult

To those that aren’t anonymous and have dedicated family and friends that promote your website: consider yourself lucky. You have a built in audience that will willingly spread the word to everyone and their mothers.

Some of us aren’t so lucky. Being anonymous comes with many benefits, but the challenges are equally weighted. When you’re anonymous, you start from scratch. Absolute zero.

It also doesn’t help that I’m naturally introverted. Out of my many weaknesses, marketing myself is probably the biggest.

Luckily, I’ve met people that have helped me along the way. I’m grateful for every one of them (Banker on FIRE, Frugal Expat, BearMoney Blog, and Cent by Cent to name a few).

It takes time and dedicated energy to build an audience, and it doesn’t happen quickly. Work hard and be patient.

3. Many people don’t have your best interest at heart

When I first started blogging, I idolized a few people in the finance and investing space. They seemed like they were giving away great information that could benefit my life.

And some of them were.

But some of them weren’t. The ones that weren’t were simply luring people into buying products from them. They didn’t actually believe what they were saying. They were going to tell me anything I wanted to hear. Thousands of bloggers and social media accounts do this very thing.

And I’m not saying that every person that sells something is evil. If someone provides a valuable product or service, it’s only fair to be compensated in return. The people that try to sell anything and everything are the ones you need to watch out for.

Some people may recommend a product only because they will earn a commission if you buy it. Be careful who you do business with.

4. It’s okay to be wrong

I was always the smart kid in class. Everyone always looked to me for answers. In response, I conditioned myself into believing that it was my responsibility to be right.

If my classmates needed my help to succeed, it was my job to help them get there. To take a line from National Treasure, “Those who have the ability have the responsibility.”

But how wrong I was. It is not and never was my responsibility to make sure people succeed. That responsibility lies within each person. A person can only control their own lives.

And this was hardly the last time I was wrong. I’m sure that some of my writings will end up being wrong, but it doesn’t matter. The purpose of writing is to clarify your thinking, and sometimes it takes other points of view to make you see it. That’s part of learning.

Finding out that you’ve been wrong is a blessing. It brings you closer to the right answer.

Learn from your mistakes.

5. Writing is hard, but satisfying

I’ve tried to quit writing several times because it’s mentally taxing and time consuming.

I keep coming back because it provides a positive net value. For every bit of time and effort put in, you receive twice as much in return.

You receive a clearer head. Writing forces you to put your thoughts into words that you have to read and analyze. This helps you to see how your brain actually works.

You’ll also receive the satisfaction of creating something. It makes me feel good that I have a running blog online, even if no one else knows it. I’ve been working for one year to create this collection, and I have over fifty articles to show for it. Time and effort yield results.

Conclusion

I may maintain this love-hate relationship with writing, but I can’t deny how much value it’s brought to my life.

Finding your voice can be a difficult venture, but the fruit it yields is oh so sweet.

You don’t even have to be a writer to consider these lessons. Whether you’re a butcher, a baker, or a candlestick maker, you can benefit from more focused and mindful work. And no one should be afraid to make a mistake. Mistakes are the spice of life.

But things that are worthwhile never come easy.

Whatever your venture, make sure it brings you value. Writing may be a pain in my ass, but I still get a smile every time I complete an article. In fact, I’m starting to get one now. 🙂

Thanks for reading!

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