October 02, 2013

I miss writing for no one

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My favourite memories of this blog are from back when it was brand new, looked iffy and nobody read it. Honestly: it was so good. It was a blank slate, a fresh screen, an online diary for blabbing. I wrote whatever came into my head, typing merrily whilst listening to bad song covers on YouTube and sinking a glass of Baileys or a green tea. Multi-tasking. Typing. Reflecting. I just free-flowed like I was writing in a shitty diary that I knew no one would bother to read over my shoulder. I have no lovers, no haters; no anonymous readers squinting their judgmental eyes at me.

It was therapeutic, public yet still private and thoroughly enjoyable.

It still is. Most of the time.

Back in 2010-12 I was picked for to be in a handful of blogger networks for glossy women’s mags, and shortlisted for 3 blog awards. The reason I was shocked was because I was never one of those “top” bloggers with polished professional content and most of the photos were just the ones I could snap the quickest. If people asked me what my blog ‘was’, I’d just say “oh it’s a writing blog”.

Then, a few people started reading. “Oh, you’ve got a blog!” Then I became embarrassed.
“Yeah! But don’t like, read it.” I’d say to people. Mainly my friends and family, but still.

I couldn’t believe my un-edited waffling had been able to pass into any sort of award category, let alone as a ‘lifestyle’. But, you know, I wasn’t complaining.

Sadly, it went downhill from there. As I developed, climbed up a few more rungs on the “career ladder” I stopped writing my real thoughts. Mainly because I knew there was a danger with over-sharing on the Internet, especially if you are employed, but also, because I felt like I couldn’t have anything that was a contradiction to my professional office life.

This also quickly led to having the imaginary concept “writer’s block” – a real problem that mean hours wasted by literally staring at a dirty laptop screen even though I knew deep down I was in a writing mood with lots of silly ideas.

The things was, I didn’t have writer’s block or brain-block, I was just too scared to publish my posts.

(I always cringe slightly when I say “writers block” because it sounds so douchey. Normally this phrase conjures up images of people taking off their glasses, dabbing their forehead with a flowery hanky, sobbing into their manuscripts, sighing loudly: “Oh! My genius mind is blocked! My poems! My poor poems! Piss off.”)

To attempt a cure for any blockage however, I would normally visit a fancy café with an expensive latté in hand but end up getting self-conscious that the waitress is judging me for the one shit sentence I managed to write on my screen. 

Why was I blocked? It’s quite simple: I had readers, so I would worry about what I was writing:

a) will it offend someone? b) what will [XX] think? c) will people disagree with it? d) will anyone get my sarcasm or ironic tone? e) will anyone understand my point of view? f) will people tell me off for bad spelling? g) would anyone misinterpret what i’m saying?

The blogger’s block is inevitable when you are consciously writing for someone. This someone (whoever it might be) is the reason was my block. You see, it’s hard when you have a blog that is just dumped somewhere on the Internet. Most TV shows or books or pieces of art are directing AT a certain audience, who will more or less want to view/participate in that thing and choose to view it. With an online blog or article, anyone can stumble across you. Anyone can swing their sword towards you.

 Before I sit down to write I wonder what ~they~ would want to read, what ~they~ will think, what ~they~ might get aggressive about before I’ve even started. But who are ~they~? They are the wrong people to write for, mainly because they are are stunting my flow.

Writing in fear is not what writing is about. Once you’ve written something, it’s not technically yours anymore.

Everyone blogs. Everyone has a ‘publish’ button. We are living in an impressive era of being able to self-publish whatever you want to, whenever you want to. We are an extremely free generation. You have a right, a voice, a platform.

So, what now?

The solution is to be brave in your work. You do what you feel is right. You aren’t in control of other people’s opinions, and they are not in control of your work.

  • Very creepily this is exactly what I’m experiencing. I actually got a tumblr to write on and felt awesome when I posted a few times of just the things I wanted to say. It felt like when I started legit blogging in the beginning days (a year give or take ago). But I got so self-conscious AGAIN that I deleted the posts. UGH this sucks but I’m glad I’m not the only one!

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“In love with Emma Gannon’s Ctrl Alt Delete. So funny & smart, and reminding me of some of my own cringe teen Internet exploits!”

– Anna James, former literary editor of ELLE

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