I love to write. I love words: the flow of words and using words to express my thoughts and feelings. Having said that, there’s always an element of frustration, too, as it’s impossible to exactly express what I think and feel and moreover impossible to influence how my words will be read and understood. Nevertheless, I experience connection through words. I remember publishing my first article and I was amazed how much it resonated with others. Despite our differences, we are connected through this human experience and writing about my own personal experiences enables me to really see and feel that connection with others. “Normalizing” somebody else’s experience by opening up about mine feels amazing! I also write for myself. Writing brings me clarity and gives me new perspectives. Writing can be a truly cathartic experience (google “expressive writing” to find out more!).
When I write an article (as opposed to journaling), this is how it usually goes: I have an idea and before I start the actual writing, I will have already formulated a rough draft of my idea in my head. This happens naturally as I tend to have ideas when I lie in bed. I then start “writing” in my head, mostly thinking in exactly the way I would write it down. I eventually sit down at my laptop (sometimes I also start making notes by hand, mainly when I travel) and start with my first draft. It’s a mix of full sentences as well as keywords of what I want to write about. Getting to the version that I submit for publication takes between a few days and weeks. Along the way, my excitement tends to transform into impatience and eventually I get an overwhelming need to just send it off. Of course, once it’s sent, I usually have more ideas for it…
When the article is accepted for publication, the editing process varies quite a lot. Some of my articles were published without any changes, others went through an editorial process which varied from suggestions on adding elements to make the article flow more smoothly, to very hands-on editing on rewording/rephrasing parts of it. Observing myself, I have to admit that whatever happens, I never like it … No editing makes me feel as if the article wasn’t read properly and as I said above, I always have things I want to change! Hands-on editing hurts my pride – after all, I spent significant time on writing this and my wording was carefully chosen for a reason! Once I put my ego aside though, I actually LOVE this part of the process. It makes me accept that there is no such thing as “perfect” and let’s me appreciate somebody else’s perspective on my work. And with hindsight, I can see how the editorial suggestions made the article better than it was before.
The moment my article is published, I am hit by a scary feeling of vulnerability: Is it good enough? Will anyone be interested to read it? What will people I know think who might find out something about me that I hadn't shared with them? It's a great opportunity to teach myself to sit with that discomfort and let it pass.
Then there's also the other side: there is an element of pride and ego involved in publishing something and getting a reaction. I check for likes and comments and shares and visits to my website. I compare to other articles. I am not proud of that but it happens. I know that none of this really matters. And I do it anyway and for a short moment, it makes me feel good to see how many people have read and liked and shared my article. But what usually happens is that I want more. Oh, I had an increase in newsletter subscribers? But why only x amount? There is always more to be had. I also regularly fall into the trap of thinking: if only XYZ, I’d be really satisfied. Another of my bullshit stories. Would I really be happier if I
doubled or tripled my followers? Highly unlikely. I’d just want to quadruple it!
Ironically, writing or rather getting published takes me down the rabbit hole of a heightened ego but at the same time it also grounds me and reminds me why I do it: even a single comment on how my writing resonated with somebody or was what they needed to hear that day, seriously warms my heart and makes me cry happy tears. Not least, as I know what it feels like to be that reader, to have somebody write about what moves me.
So, there you have it! I am pretty sure that my ego will continue to play a role in my writing journey, but that’s ok. As long as I don’t take it too seriously and lose sight of all the other
elements that make writing such a joyful activity for me!