I remember coming out of a deep pit of depression, a breakdown, really, in high school, after my parent’s divorce. I was fortunate that through therapy and medicine I was pulled back from the darkness. God also practically shot a lightening bolt at my feet as well but that is another story for another day. The point is, I was coming out of it and feeling lighter by the day. Finally, I felt like myself but a much more fragile version, as if I was made of glass.
I knew I had to take special care with myself.
It’s one of the first and only times in my entire life where giving myself grace became my sole (and soul) focus. I was so desperate not to return to that dark hole that I heaped grace on myself. I lived it. Eventually, I began to thrive.
What did protecting myself look like? I did not do things that caused me even the slightest bit of anxiety or pressure (physical or emotional). Because I felt so fragile, the boundary was clear and strong. I told people “no” for the first time. My focus was not on being “the best,” in competition with myself, a competition I am bound to lose before I begin.
For the record, I am nowhere near feeling as if I am made of glass or anything like that (although there are probably a few lessons I could take away from the story I’ve told when it comes to self care). But what made me think of that time was how I have been feeling about blogging lately. It’s come to the point where I need to protect my creative drive.
Inherently, I love blogging. I love writing. I love being creative. I love growing in my photography skills and playing with graphic design. And so, why is it that I feel a bit like Eeyore when it comes to the whole thing?
I think it’s because blogging has become more than the things I just listed. It now also includes sponsorships here and on other blogs, giveaways, guest posts here and on other blogs, SEO, branding, an extremely long bloglovin’ feed to get through, and those blogs to comment on. It also means staying on top of pinterest, instagram, twitter, and more. I manage sponsored posts for companies and networks. I have to come up with “pinnable topics.” I am not complaining about these things. Some I love more than others. The point is these are all additions to the why I love blogging in the first place. If one allows them to be, they can be distractions. It’s different for everyone.
Now though, out of protection for my creativity, I have to examine some of these extras. It’s a process. In a way, the timing is good because I can ask a lot of questions now and answer them for 2016.
Once identify I things that are pressuring my creativity, I need to remove them. It’s become this sludge so thick I don’t even want to try to walk through it anymore, even the parts I love. This sludge has me wanting to throw in the towel on this creative venture (something I know would be a mistake).
There are things that are actually killing the fragile amount of creativity I am holding on to now.
I guess you could say I am starting to treat this blog as if it is made of glass.
I guess you could say I have to be protective over my creativity.
I want to surround myself with likeminded bloggers and blogs, who let their creativity take them on a trip of wild abandonment.*** I don’t want to read about how pinterest works when I can find the same info in a million other places, especially when I could be reading about you, about your passions, books you love, artists you admire, things you create (and are not recycled from pinterest). If you can infuse creativity and passion and your own point of view into teaching me about pinterest then that’s a different cup of tea.
So with this fragile, glass-like creativity, I am going to be honest and truthful about things I’ve only talked with certain bloggers with one-on-one. The thing is: we are all in agreement. The blogging world, as a whole, is currently not conducive to creativity. The majority of bloggers are concerned with writing content that will get them re-pins and page views.
Is there anything wrong with that?
But it means my bloglovin’ feed is filled with titles like these, all on the same day: How to Make the Best Blogging Binder, Learn How to Quit Your Job to Blog Full Time, 5 Ways You Can Improve Your Instagram, and more. And that’s just the blogging related titles. It does not include the recycled DIYs I’ve already seen on pinterest by other bloggers or the recycled recipes or the bloggers who include sponsored content four out of five days a week.
This is crap.
I don’t use that word here often. I can’t think of a time when I have used it in fact. But it’s the best one to describe 80% of my bloglovin’ feed. It’s discouraging to see all this crap. It’s even more discouraging to feel as if you must produce crap in order to “make it” in the blogging world. On a less superficial level, this crap doesn’t push me to be my most creative self. Disclaimer: I define this crap as any of the idea I’ve mentioned here without the injection of point of view, creativity, and authenticity. Nothing is new under the sun, so of course, there will be overlap. But I need that infusion of creativity.
Instead, this community of crap encourages me to write on “pinnable” topics that don’t mean anything to me. (Remember, I never claimed to be innocent in all this). At first, producing this crap doesn’t affect me. But soon, my creative heart starts to wither up like a prune; it’s got no juice left to give this blog or other creative outlets.
I don’t want to point the fingers at everyone for producing crap. We’ve all been complicit. I also don’t think it’s wrong to make money from blogging (in some cases, it is a necessity).
Posts are recycled over and over again, as if bloggers pass them on to one another. I don’t want to read about it anymore and I don’t want to pretend to enjoy it anymore either. It is to the point, no exaggeration, that some days I want to scream, even as I read certain posts and comment on some blogs only out of loyalty*. Bloggers I love as people can’t seem to post anything other than this pinnable crap. I cannot take another tutorial I can find a million other places. My one-on-one relationship with them is great so I know they could infuse the “crap” with themselves and it would be magic!
(For the record, I adore pinterest. What I am referring to here are topics that are written because one thinks they will be popular: how to make a gallery wall, be more productive in five easy steps, why your blog will never be popular or why I hate your blog or why I won’t read your blog or 10 blogging mistakes you are making. Personally those are the worst for me).
I know there are bloggers who have been extremely successful writing this type of stuff. As bloggers we see that and we want it. But I am going to go out on a limb and suppose something: I don’t think blogs that are about blogging are going to be around years and years from now. Not unless they are offering something different.
What happened to authenticity? I miss it badly.
Who are you? Why are you doing this thing called blogging? That’s what I want to know.Does the “pinnability” of a post drive your editorial calendar? In essence, does page views drive your content? If so, and you are cool with it, then do you. I need to grow up and just remove blogs from my feed.*(Addendum: a friend commented to say that she feels like her calling is teaching and helping others and that made me so happy on so many levels because: she is doing her (yes!); she is living/writing/blogging out her calling; we are all different with different callings and gifts so if we all live them out there will be diversity in blogging community!)
The thing I is: I just can’t take it, especially when I’ve gotten to know you, and seen how lovely you are and how much you have to offer the world. So it’s just my personal opinion, but offer the world something other than crap because I have seen with my own eyes that you have so very much to offer! Crap is like eating a piece of chocolate cake, ingesting the calories, and being able to taste nothing. If your posts are authentic–whatever that means to you–and have a point of view then they are not crap. Offer the world this and it will thank you for it!
I know what you’re going to say because I’ve said it myself. But Nina, I need to do these things so I can get those coveted sponsored posts (no hate there…in moderation…we all need to cover the costs of our blogs and in some cases, make a living). Nina, I need to create “pinnable” content so my blog gets more views and comments and my social media grows so eventually my blog can be my job and enough money will come from it.
Nina, if I make allowances now, it will pay off in the end.
Do I think people can make a living from blogging? Absolutely. But I also think there is going to be a glass ceiling and I don’t know when we are going to hit it. When we do, I want to be unique. I want to be able to say this is what makes me different because I am Nina and brands who like the way I do things will continue to want to work with me. That doesn’t necessarily mean I am writing about completely new things (remember, there is nothing new under the sun) but it just means that I am writing them from a place of my calling and gifts, injecting them with my personality, and using my creativity.
Ask yourself, what makes you different than the next blogger? Really. I’m asking. Because I am looking at my bloglovin’ feed and I am not seeing it and seeing the same thing over and over again. My answer to that question (on your behalf HA and with much encouragement) is that YOU make yourself different than the next blogger. Write and blog from that place.
Hey, listen. I have done it too. I have fallen into the trap and lost all inspiration and creativity once there. I clawed my way out only to look around and see everyone is doing the same thing, feeling like we all have the same personality. And let me tell you, that does not inspire me to climb higher, to reach for true creativity. It makes me feel like this is all there is: double your instagram following, grow your email list, make this DIY, try this recipe with sponsored content inside of it. Again, I’m not innocent. And again, these things can be done in a way that can feel fresh.
Even graphics are starting to look similar. If this was fashion instead of blogging, I would tell you that a fad is a fad (and also all fads are not for everyone). I think jumpers are adorable but they look a bit strange on me. If this was fashion instead of blogging, I feel like 80% of people would be wearing the same exact thing.
I can’t do that anymore, not if I want this blog to last. Because the way things were going, if I don’t make a change, I can see myself throwing the towel in. Goodbye, Flowers in my Hair.
I don’t want to read the same thing blog after blog and I don’t want to write the same thing either. I want to do me. I want to be authentic. I want to protect the fledging creativity I have left.
When I am writing, I like to start my session by reading some of my favorite authors. My style is completely different from most of them and yet I read them because they pull creativity out of me. Sometimes writers will type F. Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingway just to see what it feels like to type those words. It all circles back to their own work and creativity.
And so, the thing is: I cannot continue to commit creative suicide by partaking in this. If something I want to write about happens to be considered pinnable, like the hostess gifts yesterday, fine. But that cannot and will not be my primary thought. I can only control myself and so that’s what I will be doing. But I also am not holding back what may be an unpopular opinion.
I wouldn’t say a word about any of this except I am inspired by great bloggers who are just doing what they do (they do exist!). I am inspired by their creative approach to whatever it is they blog about. Their creativity pushes my own. I think a lot of these other cookie cutters once fell into that category once. They can be unique again.**
Just because this is my opinion does not mean I am right. It doesn’t mean you have to change. It doesn’t mean you have to agree. I hope it does have you asking questions like: what is the purpose of my blog and how do I live out that purpose in a way that is unique from other bloggers around the web? Maybe you are just in it solely to make money. Okay. I have my own theories on that because I don’t think it is truly sustainable but I won’t judge you.
Creativity breeds creativity. And right now, for many of the blogs I read with bloggers I adore as women, the ground seems pretty infertile. So I’m going to go where creativity leads me and I am going to try and seek out other likeminded people.** We’ll see.
*The hardest thing for me to stop doing is going to be to stop commenting on the blogs written by the loveliest of ladies who, for whatever reason, are recycling old tutorials or not sharing any parts of themselves with the world. I feel such loyalty and respect for them as people. And yet…it’s like a dementor is sucking the creativity out of me when I comment and read just to be a good friend. And I have known for months (!) that just going and reading and commenting was depressing me on the state of blogging and yet I have not managed to cut the chain. I don’t know when I will manage it. I can tell you even as I write this that I couldn’t do it today and I don’t think I will be able to do it tomorrow.
**If you believe your blog falls into the category where you are offering the world something in a unique way OR you have a list of blogs that fall into that category, can you please, please, please share them? I am in dire need of creative spirits in the blogging community. Don’t feel funny leaving your own along with a list.
***A very wise person commented and to tell me that her purpose is teaching and helping others. She feels this is her calling. I love that so much. And so I do think there is a place for tutorials and how-tos and all that (how could I not? I love pinterest). But write them because you truly have a passion for them and a unique point of view.
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