I made a personal goal that was later a public declaration that I'd post something on here every single day. What I wanted was to eventually follow the lead of some professional and financially well-off bloggers who post several pieces and riffs a day. In order to ease into that goal, I went with the modest but still ambitious (when you consider I need to do other writing at this point to actually make a living) goal of a daily piece a day.
I've done that.
But not in the way I had hoped or even promised at the start of the year.
There is a post every single day of 2021 currently, but several of those pieces are a picture accompanied by a paragraph or sometime barely a sentence. When I'm not leaning on nostalgic family photos, it is often throw-away advice pieces that I know I can rattle off quickly, and I hope has enough personality and authenticity to have some value for someone who reads it.
Now, I have also written some pieces that I've poured my heart and soul into and I put some real thought into that have attracted a large audience (compared to other pieces on here) and garnered some decent feedback.
I can't really escape the feeling that 2021 has felt like a lot of filler pieces and the site hasn't measured up to the vision that I've had for it.
There is a good reason for it. Up until yesterday, my kids were home every single day needing help and motivation and some occasional refereeing while they did their online schooling. On top of that, none of my income currently comes from this site, so most of my day needed to be focused on doing client work or pitching to potential publishers for more work. I want this site to eventually become a significant part of my career and to do that, I do need to build it up, but it is a balancing act. A balancing act that has tipped over a few times this year because I also have several projects on the go including a short story that is desperately trying to be ready for a fast approaching deadline.
Some days I have some shame for the current state of this site and feel like I've been cheating to achieve my goal. There aren't the movie reviews I promised. There aren't any tributes of celebrities that have meant something to me. There aren't deep dives into major movie news items. There has been some parenting pieces and personal anecdotes, but even then I wrestle with some guilt that the articles have been rushed due to my time being gobbled up like Pac-Man on white pellets (how is that for a four decade old pop culture reference?)
But then I recently read an article that challenged that a writer needs to sometime set out to create an awful article.
I've always heard the mantra of 'Dare to be awful.'
It is the whole idea that sometimes you need to stop perfecting and rewriting a piece, and that even if you hate what you've created that you need to publish it. You need to take a chance that what you just wrote was horrible. If you keep trusting your inner-voice then nothing will ever make it out to the public.
It is the idea that it is better to have several awful articles published than countless great ideas no one ever reads. Plus, the inner-voice is an idiot and an assholes, and rarely worth ever listening to when it comes to trusting if a work is worth completing and submitting.
But it wasn't until this article that I'd ever heard the idea of setting out to write something awful. To get in front of the computer and tell yourself, this post is going to suck.
I suddenly realized if I was going to become a prolific writer who writes several things for clients and sends out several pieces to publishers while also posting something daily on this site that sometimes I just need to embrace the suck. I need to stop thinking that everything that I write needs to change the world and create magical epiphanies in the readers.
The idea that everything needs to sprout gold bars and rain Skittles is partly what has crippled me with writing consistent movie reviews. I realize I have little time and so I push off the writing of the review to ensure it will be the thorough and in-depth analysis that I convince myself the movie needs. It is the same reason tributes go unwritten or major news items whisk away without any analysis. I convince myself that I can't give the deep attention it deserves, so I push it off until there is no longer a reason to write it.
Except I'm wrong.
There is always a reason to write something -- dated be damned. I could write a tribute to Jimi Hendrix right now if I wanted and it sure as hell would have value for more than just myself.
Plus, writing is a conversation. A piece about one specific thing doesn't need to be the only written piece about that thing.
I only have 20 minutes, so I can throw-up a quick and messy and tangled-in-my-thoughts few hundred-word movie review with the idea that I can always revisit that movie and provide more thoughts and analysis as times go on. One review doesn't need to be my authoritative stance on that movie.
I can and should write about Star Wars and Back to the Future countless times, and so I shouldn't talk myself out of writing my first review on it just because I fear I am not in the zone to write it this week.
Ten years plus of a writing career has proven to me that I'm almost never in the zone to ever feel worthy of writing the things I'm passionate about. So just do it. If I go in knowing that it will be hot garbage, then I can reconcile it with knowledge that I can bring the flowing honey of word magic the next time I analyze and write about a movie or celebrity or major news item.
If you go in saying something is going to suck then it is a lot easier to not allow the thoughts to derail your writing. You care a lot less about crafting a piece of crap then your Pulitzer Prize winning magna opus. You are less afraid about hitting publish. You know what you wrote is shit and you set out to write shit, and hey shit, why not just throw it out there.
I've written a few times about how I used to write a lot more creative pieces several years ago and would like to do it more. This week I realized why I wrote so many more eccentric and odd creative writings.
In the first half of the 2010s, I was aiming to post something almost every day. Some days I knew that I had little time or I just couldn't get my brain to work. So, sometimes I just wrote 'fuck with it' pieces. Pieces that I knew weren't going to be my break-out piece of writing but I needed to write something so why not write a letter to Katie Holmes letting her know I was off the market.
Some of my most popular and most read pieces were things that I originally started with 'fuck with it.' I didn't care and I was just going to do something strange and weird to entertain myself. I wrote something I thought only mattered to me because why would anyone else care, but I'll publish it anyway. Then I wake up the next day to see more comments and feedback than I had got for any of my 'important' pieces and these 'fuck with it' pieces gain some of my highest readership for the blog.
Some of my most popular stuff was when I was aiming to 'write something awful.' I didn't care and I didn't overthink it. I just let my fingers dance all over the keyboard and hope something readable came out of it. I allowed my creativity to fly and I was willing to experiment a little bit.
I suddenly realized that I shouldn't worry about writing the greatest and most insightful review of Weekend at Bernie's ever but just say 'fuck with it' and see what comes out. I don't need to follow some arcane rules for a review or tribute or analysis for it to written. Just write it how I feel and be surprised by the results.
If it bombs?
I planned on it being awful anyway.
My goal is to take a few more chances on here. To just write where the muse may take me or what is on my mind. I want to be more honest. I want to breakdown perception of what a written piece is supposed to look like. And not be weighed down by being too precious with my writing.
Or failing that, post more pictures of my kids.