Wednesday, February 18, 2015

An Invisible Race


Sometimes blogging feels like a race to me, an invisible one where I never win. It sometimes feels like, if I don't do this or that, then I'm not doing enough. That I'm not good enough to keep up with everyone else. That if I miss even a single day of posting or not going on Twitter, I'll get behind. I'll fade away into the distance and my blog will no longer be relevant. That my voice will get lost in the thousands out there clamoring for attention.

Granted, I don't think all of the above every single day. If I did, I wouldn't still be doing this. But I have blogger insecurities (as I'm sure most of us do) that can really create a negative atmosphere and affect what I do on here. It has never been more apparent after the Kickstarter happened. Ever since the new year started, I've spent a lot of time thinking about change and positivity. I'm usually the type of person who seeks out the negative, and I'm trying so hard to change that. Because it's not only affecting my blogging but my real life (and vice versa, because let's be honest, real life affects what I do on here more times than I want to count). It's something that I'm working on really hard, and my short little "break" has helped immensely. But sometimes I can't help letting my thoughts run parallel with those in the first paragraph.

I know I'm not the only one who feels like this sometimes, as I've talked to a few of you about this very thing. It's hard to put yourself out there, but when everybody else is doing it too, how can you NOT let that affect what you do? When other people are becoming close with publishers/authors, receiving all the cool ARCs, and gaining followers, how can you not look at your own blog and wonder why it's not happening to you too? And what do you do when you feel like you've worked your ass off and you're STILL stuck in the same place you've been? No, this isn't a competition. But I think some of us (myself included) forget that, especially when you feel like you have to keep going as fast as you can to stay relevant in a community that is consistently growing.

It's okay to want to grow your blog, as Ashley from Nose Graze, so eloquently put it (seriously, go read her post; it's awesome). I loved her post, because it's exactly how I feel. I'm not in this to compete with others. I'm not in this for the cool ARCs. I didn't start putting myself out there until last summer, when I still wasn't completely established here. I've just barely scratched the surface with what I can do. And everything I've done since I started has not been to stay in this invisible race, but to grow my blog. I am so freaking proud of my blog and what I've done here. I'm proud that I made my own design, even if it's simple and it took two years to finally happen. I'm proud that I've created a safe space, my own little corner of the internet, for those people who feel unheard and invisible in their own lives and who take comfort in books and with others who get it.

Even when I'm having those pesky little blogger insecurities and have to bounce my feelings off of my friends, I just think about all that I've done in two years and HOW MUCH MORE I CAN ACCOMPLISH! :) But it's not because I feel like I have to, it's because I want to. I love challenging myself and pushing my blog to bigger and better places. I love pushing my creativity. I don't want to do the same things over and over again (because seriously, how boring would that be?). I want to keep expanding it and growing as a blogger. And it's okay to want that. It's okay to push myself. But what I need to stop doing is thinking of blogging in terms of a competition.

I honestly think a lot of how I've been feeling hasn't just been because of this sense of competition, but because I haven't been feeling that creative. It's been a major hit and why I've been taking a mini break. But I still feel that sense of having to do MORE or else people will stop reading my posts. Of course I want to keep pushing myself, but I have a feeling these negative thoughts of mine are just making that competitiveness with myself 10x more intense than it needs to be. I'm not trying to "outrace" people, but sometimes it feels a whole hell of a lot similar to that. (And I know that this is not good, and I hope you don't think I'm blogging because of it).

I've just struggled in the past with all of this, and I still do today. It's hard especially with how much the community has grown and how many more voices are out there. And that is a WONDERFUL thing. It is! We need everyone's voices. We're all unique and talented and bring something new to the community. Sure, there are those that can make this more a competition, most especially with the ARCs (they have surely been the crux of a lot of negativity, drama, and competitive feelings). There are those that only seem to be in it for the perks and the popularity. But most of us are just in it because we love doing this. It's a hobby; it's a passion. It's a platform of artistic creativity. And this community is something that we are damned proud of joining.

I just have to remember that I can only do me. It's the only thing that I can control. I can't control what other bloggers do or say, and I can't control how fast my blog will grow. I have my own voice, and even if I don't become a popular blogger or get the coolest ARCs or am known among authors, that's okay. I didn't join for all of that. I joined for me. And I want to keep doing this for me, first and foremost. No, I don't generally treat this as a race or a competition, but sometimes it feels like that. Especially when I start to let those blogger insecurities roar up and whisper, "you're not doing enough; you're not being creative enough." I need to just tell them to shut the fuck up because they're greedy little bastards who suck out the passion I have for this thing that has become so much more than a simple hobby.

Some bloggers may treat this as a race or competition, and some may be falling into the same dark place of negativity as me and don't know how to climb out of it. But the fact of the matter is that we're all different and we all have our own reasons for doing this. It's hard, so hard to find your niche in this community, but you can do it. I've done it, and I love the place I am at with my blog (even when my thoughts return to the negative and I start to lose that spark). And I no longer want to think of this as an invisible race that I can never win. Because, in some sense, I have won. I have done more with this than I ever thought was possible, and I can't wait to keep growing my blog! :)


Your turn!
Do you ever have this feeling like you're in a race and that you have to keep doing more to not fall behind? Or are you pretty chill and cool with where you're at? If so, tell me your secrets because I need more positivity. :)

9 comments:

  1. This is such a great post! Thanks for being so honest with your feelings and thoughts!

    For me, I do feel that I'm not doing enough. Why are my posts not original? Why do I not get many views? Why isn't my number of followers increasing?

    But I'm not too bothered by these. To me, this is a hobby. I want to be happy while doing this so that I can sustain this effort. So what if I post reviews that people do not read? I write reviews because I want to record my thoughts for myself, so that I can refer to them when I watch or read the sequel.

    I think the key to being happy is knowing why you started the blog and why you decided to write that post. What was your objective then? Remember that, and I think when those self-doubts creep up on you, you'll have an answer for it :) Hope this helps!

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  2. I can relate to you 100%. I started my blog last August and it kind of broke my heart within the first two months of it. I was posting actively, but I had no followers. I didn't think it was worth it, why post and put in so much effort into something no one will ever read? Just when I was about to submerge into the negative thoughts and delete my blog I received my first follower. This just brought me out of my bloggish depression. Someone out there cared enough to read my post and they liked it! This one follower managed to make me very happy and give me hope. Since then I have continued to actively post and improve my blog. I absolutely love my blog and even though it's still very small, I know things can only get better.

    Great post! Thank you for sharing, it really made me feel like I wasn't alone in my insecurities!

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  3. Aw, this is such a wonderful post, because I really think a lot of people can relate (myself included!) and it's nice to hear someone else thinking basically the same stuff you are.

    For me, I am kind of insanely competitive. Especially with things I care about, and I really care about this. I think with ARCs and followers and such, the reason we put so much stock in them is because they're really the only quantifiable means we have to see if we're "growing". When I was swimming, it was pretty cut and dry: Your time was faster than your previous best, or it wasn't. You touched the wall before everyone else or you didn't. You always, always knew where you stood. I liked that. (I will also be using this for my competition post in 2 weeks. You know, when it looks familiar hahah)

    But this... this has such a grey area. Maybe people are reading your posts, totally agreeing with you, but not saying anything, Maybe someone checks your blog all the time, but doesn't "follow". Maybe someone with like, half the pageviews or followers gets an ARC, and you just don't understand why. I get it. And when you're investing so much in something you adore... well, it's hard not to sometimes feel plain old knocked down by it all.

    Do you NEED more followers and ARCs and views? Well, no. But does it make you feel so amazing, and give you more motivation to keep pushing? Hell yes. And when every damn blogger and their mom gets an ARC that you poured your soul into requesting, does that sting? Absofuckinglutely. (Also, spell checker allowed that as a legitimate word, which I think means the apocalypse is coming.)

    Basically, it's normal. But as long as you're still having fun, and the good days outweigh the bad? I say it's just part of the beast. There are days that I see everyone being approved for tours, or ARCs, or chatting with authors, and I get completely bummed, eat a brownie, have a quick cry, and hope it's better the next day. I keep telling myself that it's how I know I care so much.

    Then something awesome will happen- like the day Penguin sent you ALL the books- and you'll feel on top of the world. It's a cycle, but I think it's like anything else you care deeply about- it has the potential to hurt you, but only because you're so invested. It also has the much better potential to make you feel AMAZING, which you, my dear, absolutely should!

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  4. This is me all the time. ALL THE TIME.

    I've convinced myself that if I can't post 6 times a week, comment on ALL THE BLOGS, be active on twitter and still get real life stuff done, then I'm a failure. I think that I need to tone things down and realize that there's a fun in just being chill.

    I think we think this way because we care about our blogs a lot, though. I mean, if I didn't care, I wouldn't be feeling this way, right? At least, that's how I stay positive.

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  5. I definitely know this feeling, Holly. Lately, I think I've been suffering from a bit of blogger burnout, and I feel like if I don't keep up with constant posting and commenting, then people will stop reading my blog. I want to take a hiatus, but I'm afraid that it will stall my blog. At the same time, though, I have to realize that taking a hiatus will only refill my creative well so that I can come back with better content for my readers.

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  6. This is a very lovely and eloquent post.
    I couldn't of said it better myself. I love how much I related to your refreshingly honest and open words.
    I know exactly how you feel about the arcs. Sometimes I really wish people would stop posting pictures of the arcs they receive. It really does make some people feel bad. I know they are happy and excited whenever they receive them – because whenever I have received them – on rare occasion – I was excited and wanted to show everybody what I finally got.
    I'll see the book when you review it.
    If it's a post telling people what books are coming out that week, or that have come out, that's a good post to see.
    It helps me stay up to date on new book releases.
    The topic about arcs and people posting pictures of arcs they receive is a very touchy one.
    Honestly I don't really read those weekly "what's in my mailbox" posts anymore.

    I wish I worried more about growing my blog instead of "Keeping up with the Kardashian's" i'd be a heck of a lot farther along than I am right now. I allowed jealousy and competition to bite me in the butt and hold me back. I lost sight of why I originally started my little blog and that made me really sad and angry for being so silly.
    I got a grip on myself and put everything into perspective. I took a break from blogging and am recently coming back.
    I see some of the same old issues are still kicking around and now I know better. I know how to handle these things and keep my eye on the prize.
    Now I am more interested in growing my blog, coming up with new content, remaining true to me and my voice, and hopefully making a few good blogging friends along the way. As long as you do what you got to do and do it with A clear conscience into it for the right reasons the skies the limit. I believe in karma and all of that stuff. I believe you get back what you put out.
    Even though there is a Darkside to blogging (that sounds kind of funny huh?) there is also an incredible light side. I am happy that I am contributing something positive to this world via my blog. I may not be posting about how to cure a disease or whatever but I know that there are people out there who will enjoy what I put out on my blog.
    I think that you are a smart cookie and got a good head on your shoulders. I'm so happy I came across this post today. Can't wait to read more of your posts!

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  7. Love this post! I've definitely felt similar to this before - I don't see things as a competition, necessarily, but I do put a lot of pressure on myself to do well. I also tend to compare my own stats from month to month, and if they don't improve I definitely feel like there's a problem - when honestly, it's going to happen sometimes. Not every month will have more page views/new followers than the last.

    Like you say, it's just important to remember why you want to do this. Most of us didn't actually begin blogging for the numbers, or to be "the best." I hope you begin to feel better about your blogging :)

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  8. I'm with you--sometimes I get a bit overwhelmed (all because of me) and find myself feeling competitve with myself-wanting to see my blog grow. I have to remind myself to slow down, enjoy what I'm doing and realize I can move at my own pace. I loved Ashley's post too. It's hard to admit these things but I do think most will feel it at some point. It never feels good to feel like you are running in place and never making any progress. I'm with you on trying to stick in a positive frame of mind. Great post.

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  9. I'm right there with you - I have so many insecurities that want to pop up about blogging, but I have to remind myself that I'm doing this for me and I'm not doing things "wrong." At the same time, I definitely want to keep growing my blog, and I think that's a valid and worthy goal. Why shouldn't it be?

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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Comments always make me smile. :) Seriously. Even if you comment on the post weeks or months later, it makes my day! So don't hesitate to leave your thoughts even if it's been a long time since the post was published. I'll try to reply to you, especially if you ask a question, but sometimes life happens. But I do read and appreciate every single one of them because I know how hard it can be to find the time or energy to comment. So a heartfelt THANK YOU for brightening my day when you do. <3