“I haven’t posted here in a while” might be the words that are the death knell for a lot of blogs, podscasts, YouTube channels, and other creative content. It is the holiday season, and among a dozen other excuses, I have to say that there is no one good reason that I haven’t posted here in a while, other than I just haven’t had a lot to write about. That doesn’t mean I am out of ideas, but more that I have had to change the focus of why I write.
It certainly isn’t for “likes.”
I still have no idea how people monetize their sites. My attempt to get an Amazon account went with a six month probationary period not even getting me the three sales from linked content that I needed in order to qualify. My web-traffic is pretty low, except from Russia and China, which I suspect might just be spamming attempts. In other words, not a lot of people are reading it.
That shouldn’t be the reason for writing things, though it is nice to think that whether it is a book, an essay, an article, or a blog, people are reading and hopefully enjoying what you have to say. If you are writing for attention, to get likes, to get affirmation, or try to get people to like you as a person, you probably need to reassess why you are doing it.
Recharging the batteries
Lately I have been listening to a lot of podcasts. The ones with creative people were the most interesting, since it allows you to see what their creative process is, especially in a field as insular as writing. Not long ago, before Twitter and Facebook obliterated the blogging communities, a lot of us got together on sites such as LiveJournal, Blogger, and even WordPress. There were online forums as well. I used to frequen the Baen’s Bar and Asimov’s Forum almost obsessively, but it wasn’t just memes. We wouldn’t have known what the hell memes are.
When I was a kid, I used to go with my dad to his workplace once in a while. On the breakroom wall, someone would usually post some photocopied panel of a newspaper cartoon on the board. They are relate-able. They give you a chuckle, usually along the lines of whatever dismal work experience you are having, and then you move on. That is what 90% of Facebook is these days.
We gave up our online communities for pictures of a lady yelling at a cat.
Junk food for the mind
It seems like any creative outlet gets blocked by something, some vice, some bit of junk food for our brains that wants us to sabotage ourselves instead of achievement. The internet itself was networking the minds of the world into a global conversation, beyond borders, which quickly turned into a place for free hardcore sex, black market purchasing, and clickbait news sites that essentially destroyed real journalism.
I have been listening to podcasts because the content is so rich, but there is also an awful lot of junk in there too. Sometimes it is exhausting and actually winds up draining my creativity. One of the weird things I get from listening to podcasts is how much they remind me of the mentality of people trying to entice you into illegal drugs. “You should do a podcast!”
Sometimes I have thought about doing one myself and I have had people tell me I should because I have a voice that would be good for it. I’m not going to totally nix the idea, but really, I don’t have a lot of time on my hands. If readership on my blog is any indication of what subscribers would be to a podcast or YouTube channel, it seems like an awful lot of work to just talk to myself for an hour or two.
As it stands now, in writing my blog, I am losing momentum. It is an awful lot of output, production, and content with pretty much zero return to make it worth while. I still have to work, raise my son, maintain a healthy relationship with my girlfriend, and just have a life in general. It takes a lot to keep your life together. My well for content isn’t dry, but I have to create it, edit it (sometimes), and publish it.
Some days, you just run out of steam. Last night, I took an hour long nap after making dinner. I needed that damn nap. If you don’t take care of yourself, you will pay for it later.
So, no podcast. No YouTube channel. And really, if my readership here and at gettingoutmore.org was any indication of interest, I really don’t want to spend a lot of time on one of a hundred million podcasts already out there when something I’m fairly good at–writing–isn’t all that well received.
I have been told that the key to a successful blog/Instagram/podcast/YouTube/readership in general is creating a steady stream of regular content. Eventually people will catch on and they will read/watch/absorb, etc. But as the person creating content, this is not so easy. Aside from just being busy with life, two jobs, raising a kid, and having experiences to write about, it’s difficult. I can see why so many people give up.
I’m not really giving up, but I’m not doing it to get rich either. At this point, I’m not even doing it to supplement my income. I’m doing it as a compulsive tendency. The majority of my readers seem to be Russian spam-bots.
Constantly generating content is often thankless, and writing can be such a fickle, gatekeeper controlled venture that I vehemently discourage people from considering it as a livelihood. God only knows how quickly I would starve to death if I had to rely on writing as my primary income. Constantly generating content is thankless, and exhausting. Writing creatively, whether it is a personal blog post, a travelogue entry, or working on my novel are very fulfilling and are the most effective way to keep me sane.
So there is value in that. More than I could ever attribute to a dollar amount.
Being the Enemy at the Gates
I try to follow leads, I push my writing on social media, and I try to work with connections, but for whatever reason, what I’ve got doesn’t seem to be what a lot of people want. Emails to editors are unanswered. Queries might as well be nothing. And the gatekeepers of social media mean that a socialite in a bikini can get more online presence than anything I write. Maybe I need to show more skin?
I’ve always sorta felt like an outsider, even with my writing. I had stacks of rejection letters that were pretty much “Missed it by *that* much.” Hell, that seems to be how life is sometimes. It has led to a bad habit of many abandoned, unfinished projects.
It can be maddening, but there’s a part of me that thinks maybe I’m missing something, like one day I will stumble across a button I didn’t know needed to be switched on and my content will be distributed around the world. Who knows. Again, writing for other people will drive you crazy.
For now, I will just continue to write for me, and if people like it, they will read it.