I am participating in the Writing Contest: Writers Crushing Doubt. Hosted by Positive Writer.
When I first started writing in August 2015, I did so because I felt compelled to. With 2 toddlers keeping me busy my sleep deprived self was often pounding the streets of Sydney, double pram in tow. On these daily expeditions my head began to feel like it was bursting with stories about the craziness and often hilarious moments we were experiencing. Terrified I would forget it all, I frantically jotted notes down on my phone.
This overwhelming urge/need to write was something I’d never previously experienced. Every chance I get now – I write. I didn’t have a plan. My husband suggested a blog. I liked the idea of having my words recorded in a structured chronological order – but didn’t expect to share it with anyone (other than my mum).
One day, whilst flicking through Facebook, I noticed a friend had posted a question about whether to have more children. Having just written about this exact thing (To Three or Not to Three) I decided it was appropriate to share my article with that person. To date, the day I shared that link remains my ‘best views ever’.
My phone went into overdrive, pinging nonstop as the notifications came through. Positive comments, likes and shares. It felt amazing. The ‘number of views’ graph on my website insights page rising as rapidly as my excitement. From that moment on I craved positive comments, likes and shares, continually checking-in with my insights. It was addictive.
I set up a Facebook page, feeling a little awkward calling myself ‘a blogger’. This was when the doubts first began to creep in. I was delighted so many people accepted my Facebook invite, but why didn’t more people accept? They don’t like it? They think I’m being annoying or worse arrogant, trying to be something I’m not. Who did I think I was? I’m not a writer. I’ve got no writing qualifications. I started to review the comments I’d had again. Just to make sure I hadn’t imagined the positive feedback.
I became obsessed. Each time a new post went live I continually checked Facebook for notifications. Once again the self-doubt began to creep in. Sometimes, convinced I’d written my best post I was disappointed when comments or lack of, weren’t reflecting that. I craved positive feedback for how good it made me feel and reassurance.
I decided to get more objective feedback by submitting my work to an expat website. They shared it and asked for more. Confidence restored, I became more ambitious, submitting pieces to various publishers . I have now been published on various sites including The Babyspot, Kidspot, and Parent.co. I’m a regular contributer for Mamalode and Parent Talk Australia.
There have also been some rejections. Each rejection seems to allow negative self-doubting eeeby jeebies to creep back in, questioning my ability once again. I re-read the post. Make a few edits. Submit it elsewhere – success! Perhaps my writing style is just not suited to every parenting magazine or to the person who reviewed it on that particular day. If I re-submit it elsewhere and it’s unsuccessful then I may have to concede it wasn’t right for sharing however that’s not happened yet.
When I first started writing I decided I wouldn’t read other mummy blogs, I didn’t want to risk being influenced. It didn’t take long for curiosity to get the better of me. Constance Hall – so raw, honest and courageous, The Unmumsy Mum – so funny and she’s had a book published (my dream). The self-doubt gremlins returned, “I’ll never be as funny as them”, “they have thousands of Facebook followers, I don’t”, “I’ll never achieve what they have”.
With self-doubt comes guilt. I’m spending every spare second I have writing or reading about writing or trying to figure out what avenue to go down next with my writing or what course I could do if I had the money or the time. I feel guilt to my family that I’m being so self-indulgent by spending time writing, a hobby rather than an income generator.
I’d begun to notice that some people who were commenting on my blogs at the beginning hadn’t done so for a while. I also kept seeing that statistic glaring at me every time I visited the insights page ‘August 19th best views ever’. Surely after all this extra exposure and experience my blogs should be getting more views? I started to wonder if the reason my initial ‘fans’ were no longer commenting was because my writing style had changed or worse – they just didn’t like my writing anymore.
It didn’t make any sense. Their feedback had been incredible – surely I hadn’t changed that much in 7 months. I was still getting lots of positive comments, new likers and submissions accepted. I decided to write to some of those early commenters and ask them directly, explaining I needed them to be honest. The words of reassurance I received in return put a lump in my throat and tears to my eyes. ‘Honest’, ‘funny’ and ‘relatable’ some of the words that came back. The relief I felt washed over me like a tidal wave. So I’m not completely sh*t then? Apparently they read every post that they saw in their newsfeed. What became apparent was that Facebook wasn’t showing them all.
I write because I love to write. Whilst it’s become a cathartic passion for me, driven by an innate need to get these words out of my busy head it is also motivated by hearing of other people’s enjoyment they get from reading it. Therefore, I know I will continue to crave positive feedback and check in with my insights page regularly. What I have learnt is that whilst there will always be rejection and moments of self-doubt, I must focus on the reasons why I write and the fact that whilst my writing may not appeal to everyone it will always appeal to someone.