I’ve just had a revelation.
I’ve been feeling all BLAH about this blog, and about writing in general, and trying to figure out why do I write anyway.
I think what happened is I briefly got caught up in the whole blogging-twittering-“internet famous”-popularity-contest aspect of blogging. Which can be fun and all (I guess), but what seems to happen to me is that I lose touch with my purpose in writing. As in, I literally forget why I started the blog.
There is this idea of intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation: intrinsic is what you do because you feel like it – extrinsic is what you do because it will get you something, like approval, money, etc. The problem is that extrinsic motivation can destroy intrinsic motivation. For instance, if you start rewarding a kid for studying, and then you stop rewarding them, they’ll stop doing it. Even if they were actually doing it of their own volition to start with.And I knew this, of course, but I am surprised at how I didn’t realize it was happening to me.
The thing with me is that I don’t last very long on extrinsic motivation. I just sort of space out and don’t feel motivated at all. And that’s exactly how I’ve been feeling about the blogging lately. But I didn’t put it together.
I think the reason that the idea of “popularity” draws me off-course is because of my personal history with schoolyard unpopularity and a lifelong struggle with isolation. So my mind started fuzzily equating popularity with acceptance or friendship. Which of course are not the same at all – you can have thousands of fans and have few real friends. They aren’t the same thing.
I think this is a big piece of the “fear of biggification” idea I’ve explored before on this blog. Part of the fear is of my unintegrated need for acceptance and inclusion taking over. It’s similar to the way many artists are afraid that if they become successful they will “sell out” – in other words, they are afraid of their unintegrated need for security or status taking over.
I hadn’t put it together before.
Luckily, I had “self-sabotage” to save me.
I think people misunderstand “self-sabotage”. The popular/Hollywood idea is that you start going toward success, and then somehow that success scares you so you “sabotage” it or “get in your own way”. But I think it’s really important to look at what and why exactly you are doing this supposedly “sabotaging” thing. Because I bet it is actually a really healthy thing.
For instance, in my case, about a month after gaining some new readers and commenters from Twitter and whatnot…I started feeling very blah about Twitter and very blah about writing.
But that’s not self-sabotage. At least, not in a bad way. That’s a self-correcting mechanism kicking in.
It’s the part of me that says “uh, I’m really not in this to get more comments”. A that’s me, that’s real, that’s the part of me I want to listen to. Cause it’s true, I’m not in this for more comments.
And if I start feeling like I am, I really want to go back and remember why I’m really in this.
Over-riding “self-sabotage” without understanding it is a very bad idea.
Achieving outside success is not the measuring stick.
The ephiphany I had was around why I actually do write.
It’s not about other people at all, not directly. I write when I feel this internal nudge. It’s like an internal pushing sensation. That’s it. That’s the whole reason. When I feel the nudge, I write. And it feels great! It’s like I’m channeling something from somewhere.
I think that inner drive, that urge to create, lives in all of us. It manifests in different ways. Sometimes I feel the nudge to write, other times I feel a burning desire to start a project or something else.
I believe that these little (or big!) internal nudges are the voice of our true Self/God/whatever you want to believe in – they are the juice. They are the thing to listen to.
Everything that comes from that, if it comes, or if it doesn’t, or whatever – it doesn’t really matter. It’s not good, it’s not bad. But the fact is, if you are following your nudges, you will be happy and feel connected to life no matter how many people read your blog. Conversely, if you are trying to get people to read your blog, it doesn’t matter how many fans you have, you won’t feel satisfied.
It’s a weird paradox. External input feels wonderful – but ONLY if we are already fed from within. External input feels hollow and cheap if we are trying to survive on it – it’s not nourishing enough on its own.
So take a moment to think about the internal indicators that you are following your nudges, and the internal indicators that you have lost touch with them. You might want to write them down and make a little “SOS” note for yourself – “Read in case of total BLAH feeling”.