This isn’t right.
I shouldn’t be sitting here for the umpteenth night in a row paralyzed from writing by an inexplicable fear of inadequacy.
For over a month now, I have sat down eager to write, eager to share, and eager to entertain, only to ultimately choose a path of silence.
And I couldn’t figure out why.
I wasn’t depressed. I was the same jovial happy-go-unlucky guy I’ve always been. I wasn’t bitter, angry, sad, lazy, or apathetic. I wasn’t losing my passion for writing, and I certainly wasn’t lacking any ideas.
And yet, as much as I wanted to write, I simply couldn’t.
I spoke with friends, family, and the wonderful people I’ve met through MomDot, Twitter, and the blogosphere to try and figure out how to re-ignite that creative spark. I felt that if I could determine the root cause of the problem, I could find a solution and blaze forward.
I received lots of great suggestions on how to get over writer’s block, but I was facing a far greater barrier than writer’s block. I knew how to write, I knew what to write, and I even knew that I wanted to write. But before I could, I needed to come to grips with whatever force was holding me back.
One of my favorite suggestions was to “write drunk and edit sober”. For a fleeting moment, the recommendation made perfect sense, but I gave up getting drunk on purpose a long time ago. Granted, some of my more hilarious nights began with a swig of Mad Dog 20/20, but they often ended with a spinning room, nausea, and an appearance ticket. I’d have to keep searching for an answer.
What really buoyed me throughout this rough period were the words of encouragement from people who said they missed me. Reading a few tweets and receiving a few emails asking where the heck I was hiding meant a lot to me.
Between those who reached out to me and my commitment to my Sweet Dreams Fund, I felt compelled to kick myself in the rear and start writing again. The energy began to channel from within and the creative juices once again started to flow.
To all of you who cared enough to do a cyberspace search-and-rescue mission, I thank you. I was so petrified that my hiatus had cost me 100% of my readership that I was dreading trying to rebuild what I felt I had so carelessly lost.
After a lot of self-reflection I finally realized what was holding me back.
I had set the bar WAY too high for myself.
I had let the few occasions where I was besieged by compliments, comments, and adoration establish a benchmark that I felt I needed to hit with each and every post.
In my mind, every post had to absolutely rock the house or it wasn’t worth doing. This created an aura of fear and it ultimately paralyzed me. I was so afraid of being a let-down, of not hitting that outrageously high benchmark, that I opted to not write at all. As flawed as this thinking was, it was real, and it was absolutely stifling.
As many of you know, I’m overly obsessed with receiving reader comments on my posts. So much so that I wrote a song parody on this obsession called “Say the Things”. That song, and my Ode to BlogHer ’09 parody, brought in a deluge of traffic and comments. The euphoria I felt when everyone was showing me the love was intoxicating. Especially since I had spent weeks on the project.
But then, as with any high, a crash would soon follow. And this last one almost did me in.
When the “Say the Things” parody, which had brought in a frenzy of comments and retweets, was followed by a post that elicited almost no reaction, I felt that I had disappointed everyone. I felt that my readership expected, and fully deserved, nothing short of awesomeness in absolutely everything I delivered. I had obviously left them unfulfilled.
This is what I mean by the title, “Awesome Almost Killed My Blog”, because a few awesome posts and parodies created an unattainable and unrealistic set of new expectations.
If I hadn’t felt that surge, that rush of positive energy from those posts, then I wouldn’t know what I was missing when my more mundane personal blah-blah posts were met without any fanfare. While I’ll never seek mediocrity, it’s impractical for me to expect perfection.
Jenny, of “The Bloggess” fame, who I absolutely love, admire, and want to kidnap, could write about corn starch and get 276 comments about how awesome corn starch is. I could cure cancer and probably top out at about 50.
Over time, getting comments became an addiction, and sadly, my raison d’etre when it came to blogging. When they didn’t come, my motivation was sapped. I didn’t want to write until I had something so tremendous that I would feel that high again.
I almost feel as though I should attend a Bloggers Anonymous meeting or something.
“Hi, my name is Greg, and I’m a comment junkie.”
As days continued to pass, I felt more and more pressure to deliver something awesome. Another day would pass and now it’d have to be even more awesome. People won’t be satiated by a few pictures of my daughter picking apples, I needed to deliver something totally and utterly amazing.
This created a wicked cycle.
Another day. More silence. Increased pressure. Total literary paralysis.
I realize now that this thinking is as impractical as it is skewed. I enjoy writing and I cherish the friendships I’ve made through blogging. These need to be my focus. Not kudos, ‘atta boy’s, and virtual pats on the back.
I need to write for me, for the children I hope to help, and for those who enjoy stopping by even when a post isn’t dripping with awesomeness. Comments will no longer be my motivator, nor will I allow my comment count to define me as a writer.
I feel rejuvenated and I’m really looking forward to jumping back into the fray. Just know that while the grand slams will come, there will be plenty of singles, doubles, triples, and even some strikeouts along the way.
I just hope you stay tuned regardless. I have a lot planned and I have a lot of catching up to do.
Oh, and since I mentioned it, here are a few photos of my daughter “apple pipping” after all.