Not So Easy to Speak After All

I must admit I’m struggling.

Since the beginning of the year, I have been participating weekly in the Speakeasy over at Yeah Write. If you haven’t checked it out, you should. The prompts are great!

The basic premise is that you get a prompt each Sunday, you write a poem or a piece of flash fiction (750 words max.) and link back to the Speakeasy by Wednesday night and then on Thursday, everyone reads all the submissions and votes for their three favourite entries. On Fridays, the top three entries are announced, as well as an editor’s pick.

It’s been hugely effective in getting me to write more fiction, though for some reason I haven’t posted any poems as part of these prompts.

Actually, scratch that. I know the reason. It’s because as much as I tell myself I don’t care about being one of those lucky people who are named on Fridays, I do. And it seems the poems just don’t get the votes.

But it seems I just don’t get the votes either.

Which is fine. But you know, human nature being what it is, you always think it might be nice.

I hate to admit this. I find it hard to admit it. Like it’s a shameful thing to want to get some votes. But is it? Doesn’t everyone want some kind of positive recognition?

I enjoy the lovely comments people leave me on my stories. And I enjoy the positive atmosphere of the Speakeasy itself. Everyone is very supportive of each other. I have also gained a wider audience as a result of participating.

I think the problem is me.

I don’t mean that in a self-depricating way. I mean it in a realistic way. I judge myself too harshly already so it’s easy for me to assume that my stuff just isn’t that good.

The thing is, I like what I write, most of the time. And I like having that extra push each week to write fiction.

I just can’t seem to disentangle the positive experience from my negative outlook. My own insecurities are killing some of the joy of writing. I am no longer writing for me.

I focus too much on what people want to read, and on trying to figure out what people like to read.

I worry too much about what people will think of me and my writing each time I post something.

I worry too much about what people will think of me if I don’t post something.

I’m worrying too much about what people will think of me when they read this post.

I know I need to stop all those lines of thinking but it’s a struggle. A struggle I really don’t need in my life.

I need to get back to the joys of creating, of sharing, of unburdening, of unconstricted thinking.

And I need to write some poems.

So here’s what I’m thinking. I’m thinking that I should continue writing weekly entries based on the prompts but not enter my posts for voting. Sure, fewer people will read them but maybe it will allow me to give myself a break.

Maybe that’s all I need for now.




12 thoughts on “Not So Easy to Speak After All

  1. too easy to get sucked into the approval groove which moulds our posts to popularity! Yours is a good idea – use the theme as prompt to flow the juices and to hell with what comes forth. p.s.intermittent rewards are the most addictive to shaping behaviour
    p.p.s poetry is harder to comment on as its not as easy to ‘access’

    • Thanks for your thoughts! I agree re poetry; I find it hard to comment on myself but incredibly liberating to write. And that’s what I miss – I shouldn’t let anything interfere with that experience.

  2. I share your angst about entering things for judging. As you know I take pictures – lots of pictures – and I belong to a camera club that runs monthly competitions as well as three other club competitions each year, and a juried exhibition, whatever that is (I’ll find out this month!). In these competitions I compete against a number of very accomplished photographers, some have been doing this for 30 or 40 years. I’ve been doing it for just over one. They also have the very best equipment. I have pretty good stuff. So every time I enter, I know the odds are stacked against me – more experience and knowledge, better equipment. However, I take the images because I love to. I compete because it’s a way of gauging my progress. I also get constructive feedback / criticism, some of which I agree with, some I don’t. But I use it all to try to improve my skill. I did get a second in one competition too, which made me feel very good. All this to say you should continue to compete and you must continue to write – I love your poetry – because I think it feeds your inner soul just like taking pictures feeds mine. Getting some recognition is a bonus, like icing on the cake but the cake is the joy of doing what you love.

    • Thank you so much for this much needed pep talk and reminder of why I write! I need to get back to writing poetry; I seem to be pouring all my creativity into the fiction pieces but I miss the crafting of a poem. And you’re quite right – I’ve been trying to look at the competition side as just impetus, or icing on the cake. People are quite positive so I don’t get constructive criticism. They always leave positive comments, which is nice and very gratifying but it makes the total absence of votes a bit of a mystery – I wish they’d tell me WHY they didn’t vote for my piece, what it was missing, so that I could try to build on that. Maybe I should add in a sentence at the end welcoming constructive criticism.

  3. Everyone goes through these same thoughts, believe me. You look at your stats page, and notice you’re down from this time last year, or last month, or whatever. You notice things you wrote two years ago get read every day, while things you write earlier this week got read that day and the next day and that’s about it. You notice that most of the search terms people have used to find your blog revolve around unicorns or porn.

    Blogging is a lot like a relationship. Comes easy and feels good at first, but after a few months you have to work at it. That’s my experience, at least. But I have a shotgun approach to blogging.

    • You’re right. I never really thought about it but blogging does start out easy and then get harder. I’m not sure why but it’s true. I think I’ll add in something somewhere asking readers to give me criticism (constructive) as well as positive comments. How else does one learn?

      No one, sadly (?) is looking for unicorns or porn when they instead trip across my site, but then you and I sometimes have a different focus…

      • Oh, in my experience, you won’t need to ask. Why, I have a completely separate blog just for poetry based solely on the complaint of one person who doesn’t care for poetry (Lyrical Anarchy). And more than a few people have told me they hated this thing or that. I just say ‘the unfollow button is in the upper left of your screen.’

        Because it’s much better to do what you do and have a few people like that, than to do what everyone wants you to and be unfulfilled. Right?

  4. Yep, you aren’t alone in these thoughts. It’s tough to remember who we started writing/blogging for when pageviews/comments start adding up…but usually our original audience brings out our best writing, or at least our most genuine.

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