Writing for myself. That’s what I’ve decided to (attempt to) do in the mornings, before I start paid client work, whenever my schedule allows.
Now, my schedule is pretty (for)giving. I pack it full almost every week with self-imposed deadlines and appointments. So when I say ‘when my schedule allows’, that actually means…
- If I’ve remembered to add it to my blocks of attempted focus time
- If I’m in the right mindset to focus on myself
- If I haven’t fallen down the rabbit whole of “Look! That YouTuber that I only marginally care about has published a new video on a Sunday night and I now must catch up because their life is clearly more important than mine!”
- If I’m not scrolling into the pit of comparison, perfectionism, guilt, and not feeling enough
- If I am actually confident that the day is long enough to finish whatever client commitment I’ve made for the day (writing for myself will take away from that, although scrolling will, too)
It’s not hard to see how and why the concept of writing for myself has fallen to the back of my mind, my schedule, my priorities.
What does writing for myself even mean?
When I first started my freelance writing career, I remember being terrified that I’ll fail the whole thing, no one will want to hire me, and no one will trust anything I have to say.
No one will think I’m good enough to actually want to pay me money in exchange for what I have to offer. And not just any money; money that can be considered a salary in the expensive city that I live in.
And when you’re about 26 years old, after a few failed jobs and attempts at a satisfying career, that’s a great load of worry to carry around with you.
So writing for myself back then (‘then’ being mid-2017) was a way for me to position myself as a content marketer. For the first time in my life, I knew who I wanted to become. I knew what I wanted people to see me as.
A content marketer. A journalist turned writer for some of the best folks in the business of software.
And not just any writer: a really damn great one.
So I wrote.
Looking back at my pieces back then, obviously and rightfully all focused on content marketing tips, I’m happy I did that. I’m also happy that at some point, I just jumped into creating a podcast, head first.
That experience was unlike anything I’ve ever done, but it not only made me write even more—it brought me connections and friendships that I only could have dreamed about. I never interviewed people from a business perspective, and you could tell.
I think you can still tell it’s not my strongest suit. I’ll get there. But I wrote, asked, recorded, edited, reached out, rinsed, repeated.
Over time, though, this writing for myself thing somehow became a burden and a thing that not only do I not have the time for; I don’t even have the mental space.
How is my brain supposed to handle MORE writing when there are days I barely make it to the finish line of something that I’m paid for? (And that comes ridiculously easily to me, but I’m unfortunately struggling to even sit in one place for more than 15 minutes?)
So I gave up entirely. Every time I did try writing for myself, I overthought things. And not just like, I’m a perfectionist and it’s cute. More like…
- I wonder if this makes any sense at all.
- I wonder if this will make anyone feel inferior because I’m talking about the good parts of my career.
- I wonder if this will ever rank. Will anyone actually be able to find this?
- I want this to be hyper useful to people, so I better look for keywords, questions, things that already rank, so I can make it good.
- I am not a good enough marketer to share my learnings about the industry. My learnings come from a job I’ve literally made up, and people might not see it as real experience. I’m afraid I’ll get called out for never working in a real, in-house marketing role.
- If I share about marketing, the above will happen. If I share about myself, either no one will care, or I’ll get called out for whatever I did or didn’t do.
These didn’t just become thoughts that happen here and there. These became overwhelmingly omnipresent. It’s the reason I haven’t published anything (except for a partnership) on my blog for almost a year, and on Medium for 18 months.
Whenever I’d share things from my life and work, including productivity, client relationships, editing experiences, even health and pain stuff etc. on Twitter, people highly resonate with it. They reply, share with their followers, reply with their experiences.
And I LOVE that. Sometimes, their messages and replies reveal to me that they are in the same exact boat. Or that they’ve found a way to deal with it in their own way, and they want to share it with me.
I do my work all alone. I don’t have a person or a team sitting next to me. I don’t have commitments like meetings or calls or reports (which I’m pretty happy about). But I do get to days and weeks when I’m feeling alone… Disconnected even, more so than just alone or lonely.
Writing for myself is what brings me closer to others.
Twitter does too, and so does Instagram.
But in order to show up to those places, it’s necessary for me to set the time to not only just write for myself and turn it into stories that can potentially resonate with even one person, but also to show up, share, reply to comments and messages, and foster genuine connections.
As I’ve removed Twitter and Instagram from my phone at some point, I got so quiet on both platforms that I wondered if anyone remembered I existed.
My focus at the time got better, but my disconnection from the industry deepened, or at least it felt that way to me.
This is why I pledge to sit down every morning, or most mornings, work on my mindset and getting in the right headspace, and take note of how work and life have been going recently, and store it in one place: this blog.
As time goes on, I’ll make the most out of this by sharing it on platforms I care about and aim to reach even one person at a time.
This doesn’t have to be viral, popular, or anything that gives external, vain validation. I want to do this to understand myself better, and to potentially help others understand themselves better, too.
Most importantly, since this job can get as lonely as it does, I want people in similar situations to know that they’re not alone in their battles and daily experiences.