We live in a world where inspiration and information is literally at our fingertips 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It doesn’t matter if you’re on a beach, in the desert, even in the middle of the African bush (trust me – I’ve done it). Ideas from crowd-sourcing, photos from around the world, scientific articles with know-how and information. Social media, of which I was once the biggest champion. It’s all available, all the time. On our phones, in our computers, even in our kitchens. (“Alexa, how many grams are in a pound?” I spent a lot of my candle-making session this afternoon talking to the AI.)
So why have I been completely uninspired to write for this last year?
Inspiration to write
It’s quite ironic that my last post was about the Avon Guild of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers, because that’s where I found my inspiration to write this post this afternoon. I was chatting to Ricky, who came to the guild for the first time, lamenting the fact that I haven’t written for so long. Nothing special happened, but somewhere in the catch-up we were having, I think I found something that’s been missing for a while.
Last November I did Nanowrimo – a 50,000 word novel in 30 days – and I think my problem started there. I was completely fatigued. I feel like that feat, which was an accomplishment no matter my personal feelings about the novel, sucked the words completely out of me. Churning that number of words out made all of them feel like hard work. I used to find it a breeze to come up with 600/800/1,000 words for a blog post, but suddenly having counted every single one for 50,000 of them, I couldn’t do that anymore. The novel wasn’t even that good!
I was also totally over-analysing everything I had to say, and getting what John likes to call ‘analysis paralysis’. There are no fewer than 32 drafts in that particular folder, half written and abandoned because I was so tongue tied and frustrated with my words.
There are some incredible writers in the crafting/blogging world, from Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (Yarn Harlot) to Anna Maltz (Sweater Spotter), Sarah Knight (Crafts from the Cwtch) to Karie Westermann (kariebookish.net), and many, many more in between. They write funny, poignant, helpful, interesting blogs that are always a joy to read. I started to feel like everything I had to say had been written before, in a better, more interesting and more helpful way, by someone more qualified than me.
It’s so easy to measure yourself up against some one else and find yourself coming up short, especially when using any one of the many platforms I alluded to in my intro. It can be very disheartening if that’s what you’re using as your success metric. This was something I swore to myself I would never do when I first started Plutonium Muffins. Having had nearly a year off blogging give or take a few posts, I’ve realised my success mattered more to me than what I was actually trying to say. I don’t know how, or when, things changed.
Finding the inspiration
Chatting to Ricky and the ladies at the guild meeting today made me realise how much I’ve missed this. I never started this blog to try be a great writer – I started it because I enjoyed writing, and I enjoyed sharing photos of my craft. I didn’t care if nobody read it, and didn’t think of it as separate to craft – it was just the place I came to share my craft because I didn’t have anybody I could talk to about it. I wasn’t trying to make a statement with every blog post. I was just occupying my little corner of the Internet and having fun while doing it.
I’d love to go back to that. I’d like to stop feeling like I have to come up with Words of Value every time I put my fingers to my keyboard. Checking my WordPress metrics and realising how much work I have to do to make them perfect. As I write this, the post has got the below ‘readability’ points, and it’s red. Bad.
I’ve about reached the end of this post, and I would now normally spend at least an hour crafting it so it achieved a green on each of those little points. I would then spend an hour more making sure the SEO (search engine optimisation) was top notch. Then I’d spend another hour editing photos. It usually only takes about half an hour to actually write the thing.
So, I’m here to make a statement. I’m going to go ‘backwards’. I’m going to start ignoring the ‘helpful’ pointers (maybe not completely – my spelling and grammar could certainly use some work!). I’m going to stop allowing myself to compare my words to other peoples. I’m going to stop trying to ensure my posts meet digital perfection against an algorithm’s judgement of what perfection is. I’m going to just write and enjoy my words again, without pressure to post regularly, or perfectly.
PS: I was finding my digital life so overcrowded and overwhelming that I’ve deleted Twitter, Facebook, and pretty much every other social media app except Instagram off my phone. I actually did it weeks ago, and I’ve been feeling so much better for it! If you’ve been finding you’re feeling a bit ‘off’, I recommend trying a digital detox.