As a writer, I constantly tip-toe the fine line between sharing my words and promoting myself, between honing my craft and growing my fan base. The whole idea of self promotion doesn’t rest well with me. From where I sit, I don’t see myself as a bragger or an egomaniac. (Perhaps others would disagree.) I typically find folks who talk about themselves incessantly to be, well, incessantly annoying.
But I think there’s a distinct difference between self promotion for glory’s sake and self promotion to further my writing career. I think all writers would agree — this industry is tough. The competition is fierce, the talent pool is deep and the odds of success are slim. So it takes some sort of gusto, some level of oomph to make it. Otherwise we’re all at risk of merely keeping diaries that will remain forever locked.
Is that enough of a disclaimer to buffer my bursting excitement? Here goes nothing:
Yesterday was a HUGE day for me as a writer!
WordPress chose my blog to be “Freshly Pressed.” You see, each weekday, WordPress — one of the world’s largest blogging platforms — chooses 10 or so new blog posts to feature on their home page. These posts catch the attention of WordPress staffers so much so that they are given a day in the spotlight.
And yesterday, they chose my post, “A Welcome Discovery,” out of roughly 480,000 bloggers who posted that day, out of over 910,000 unique new posts. They chose me — a Jersey girl with an addiction to coffee, an obsession with Simon Cowell and a flair for all things literary. They chose me.
But before I can even pop open the celebratory champagne, my mind — often incapable of understanding such unimaginable things — starts to do what it does best: doubt.
You see, I read the profound words of fellow bloggers every day, and I am utterly impressed by so many. The Glennon Meltons of the world. The Jason Goods. The Mary DeMuths. And I think I’m not like them, I’ll never be as good as them, I’ll never have as many followers as them.
I’ve now been blogging for nearly nine months — 267 days to be exact. Sometimes it feels like decades, because it hasn’t always been easy. There are days when I have no clue what to write about and I sit for what seems like hours — fingers lightly resting on keys, mind completely empty. There are other days I feel alive and pour myself into what I think are solid, thought-provoking posts, to find out later they were read by only 23 people. There are even days I mention a post to a friend or family member, and they just shrug and say, “It wasn’t my favorite.”
That doubt sure does find its way in, doesn’t it? It builds a nest. It lays some eggs. It hatches little doubt babies and feeds them doubt worms.
I’m not the greatest writer.
There are others who write way better than me.
Who cares what I have to say, anyway?
I should stick to my day job (which, unfortunately, is writing).
I’ll never get a book published.
I’ll never have enough followers to make it.
My tweets don’t ever get retweeted.
My blog posts hardly ever get shared.
My Facebook following is literally going down. People are “unliking” me.
I’m. Just. Not. Good. Enough.
That doubt just creeps on in. Little voices. Little words. Little knives cutting away at any sense of talent or enjoyment I may have felt. And that doubt leads to discouragement, which leads to denial, which leads to despair. And then I consider throwing in the towel. It’s an endless cycle, really:
- Write a blog post
- Consider quitting
- Write a blog post
- Get excited over new comments
- Write a blog post
- Consider quitting again
- Lather, rinse, repeat
Discouragement comes easy. So days like yesterday are important. Not because I get recognition (which is nice). Not because more people know who I am (which ain’t all bad). Not because it makes me feel good (although it does feel pretty darn good). It’s because I am encouraged.
Writing is tough. Baring my soul for the world (mainly my parents) to read is tough. Battling constant fluxes in readership is tough. Coming up with new content is tough. Coming up with new content on dating when I haven’t had a date in three months is really tough. Hearing criticism is tough. Not hearing anything is even tougher still.
So, as hard as it is, I must choose to focus on the giver of all good gifts, our heavenly father. He reads every one of my blog posts. Heck, he’s my biggest fan. He’s the inspiration for what I write, he’s the giver of any speck of writing talent I have, and he’s the creator of every writer I’ve ever looked up to in my life. He catches my tears when I’m discouraged and he holds me close when I doubt. And he gladly leads me down paths of opportunity and opens doors of passion and grace.
“…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31).
And some days, I feel like God whispers in my ear a very personal addition to this popular verse. When I’m discouraged, when I’m down, when I’m staring at a blank page for hours, I hear: “…and they will write and not doubt.”
Thank you, Lord, for believing in me, and loving me despite what I can or cannot do, what I may or may not accomplish — but simply because I am yours.
Thank you, WordPress, for choosing my post to be Freshly Pressed yesterday, boosting my confidence, rocking my blog traffic, and putting a big, goofy smile on my face.
And thank you to my fellow writers for giving me a community, a camaraderie to lean on. We may all be at different stages: some published authors, some bloggers, some journalists, some songwriters, some copywriters. But we’ve all been in the same boat at one time or another. We’ve all found ourselves drowning in doubt. We’ve all felt the discouragement that comes from closed doors, unread blog posts, rejection letters from publishers, negative criticism from those close to us.
But in the end, we’re all writers. Be encouraged today.