The other day I found myself feeling really down and depressed about my blog. I had been writing for over a year, putting a lot of time and effort in to good quality posts but yet not attracting as many views and readers as I thought I should be.
These blogger blues were, as usual, brought about by reading a post in a bloggers group on Facebook about another writers sky-high post views. In short, I was jealous. That jealously turned in to a reflection of self and the more I dwelled, the less I measured up and the more inadequate I felt. By the end of the evening I was a big ball of misery stewing in self-pity and apathy. I might as well not bother. I thought to myself. No one’s even reading my stuff anyway.
Feeling creatively insecure
I know I’m not alone in this. I know so many wonderfully creative people; those who paint, make things with their hands, talented writers, photographers; the list goes on. And almost all of these people have moments of total and utter despair- moments of creative crisis where they wonder what the point is. Where they wonder if it’s time to pack away the pens and pencils and give up the daydream. It’s not surprising really. When you’re a creative person you put so much love and attention in to your endeavours that your projects become a part of you. Although at times I feel like the worst writer ever I know that if I lost the ability completely I would not feel like myself anymore. Personally, I spend hours taking photographs, editing them and writing out descriptive posts to try and capture the imagination of my intended readers. So when friends skip past my posts without thought it feels really hurtful. I definitely take it to heart, perhaps more so than I should but I am only human and just like everyone else I want to make my mark.
The funny thing about the creative crisis I faced the other day is that it happened during a period of time when I was actually doing quite well. So okay, I had just posted a blog post that hadn’t got as much love as I would have liked but, in the scheme of things my blog had actually been growing in terms of success. This year my readership has grown and I have started to get invites to blogger events and sponsored post offers. If I look at how I’m doing now compared to this time last year I’ve come on in leaps and bounds.
But in times of misery it is tough to look at the bright side and much easier to just slide down that slippery slope of despair. I let myself wallow for the night and tried to be a little more positive the next day, pushing through the uncertainty to get another post up and out there. I thought I would share some of the things I like to remind myself of when I’m feeling particularly hopeless, as it really can be useful to put it all in to perspective.
It takes time
All the creatives we really admire have been plugging away at their craft for a long time. Success doesn’t happen overnight and, if it does, it’s often short-lived and less rewarding than success that is built on the foundations of hard work and patience.
Vincent van Gogh wasn’t successful until after he died; you still have plenty of time left.
Success is a perception
Everyone has a different idea of what success is and what it means to them. Some people might think that unless you are raking in thousands of pounds from your creativity you are a failure. Others might measure it on how it makes them feel. If you enjoy your craft – blogging, writing, painting, etc – than perhaps that’s your measure for success. Perhaps getting views or selling stuff isn’t actually as important as your ability to create something you yourself are proud of.
Comparison killed the creative
It’s one thing to admire or be inspired by another creative but to compare yourself is the ultimate creativity killer. The thing is, we are all a little insecure at times and unsure if what we’re doing isn’t just a little bit crap. And hey, maybe sometimes it is. But the most unhelpful thing you can do is hold your work up to someone else’s and ask yourself “is this better than mine?” Firstly, it’s unlikely you’ll come away feeling good about yourself or your work because it’s just in our nature to be self-critical. Secondly, it’s not helpful to compare yourself to somebody else as you are not them and you never will be. Compare your work to the work you created a year ago and perhaps you’ll see progress and improvement but never, ever look at what others are doing and use that as an indicator of your own talent.
Negativity doesn’t make you better
Feel free to experience your emotions as they come to you, in whatever form that takes. If you feel sad or hopeless, allow yourself to feel it. But don’t dwell it on for more than a day because negativity isn’t going to make you better at what you do. Only your ability to pick yourself up after a fall, to brush yourself down and to push through those difficult feelings will define how well you do ultimately. I may never be the writer that I want to be, but that won’t stop me trying and getting that little bit closer to the goal.
You are so special
Finally, I just want to remind you that you are so special and that there is no one else like you in the world! There may be other writers/creatives out there producing wonderful things but none of them can create what you do because you are unique. If you find yourself wondering “where do I fit in?” please know that there is a space for your voice, your talent and your skills that only you can fill. Keep doing you, always.