A valuable lesson learned today

by | Jan 21, 2024 | A Writer's Journey, Life Rambles, Random Life Musings, The Author Journey | 0 comments

I literally don’t know where to start.

This isn’t new for me. All of my life I’ve had way too many things going on at once. New hobbies upon new jobs. New interests upon new rabbit holes. Right now, while I write this, my brain is screaming at me to stop. To write on the novel. To upload the store. To create the Instagram account for this blog. To upload the chapters to my author website. To send out a newsletter. To reach out to the interviewees for feature articles. To organize my hot-mess digital life so I can find the articles I want to upload.

It’s telling me to stop. To organize the pile next to me. To fill out the forms. To work on my taxes. To answer that social media question for my day job. To read that book. To do my budget. To fix dinner, even though I already pre-cooked something last night for today.

It’s telling me to exercise. To organize. To get my schedule for tomorrow down. To train the dog. To rearrange my bedroom, again. To watch that class I signed up for. It’s telling me to call friends I haven’t talked to in a while and to go visit someone. It’s telling me to get back into the things I used to enjoy, like theatre and movies. There’s that new t.v. show I’ve been wanting to watch.

It’s telling me writing this blog post is a waste of time that could be used for something else, because no one wants to read it. Because it doesn’t have any value.

Because my writing doesn’t have any value.

*Pause while I recover from writing that sentence.*

I had no idea where I was going with this blog post when I started writing it, but sometimes it’s in the writing of something that the truth comes out. And that truth just came out in that one sentence.

There was a time when writing took precedence over everything else. Granted, for much of my writing career I was a news writer, which meant having deadlines to meet that naturally pushed writing to the top of the to-do list.

But also, for most of that news writing career, I worked for myself, which meant those were self-imposed deadlines. No one was telling me to get that article written and published by a certain date. Especially in the beginning before I had a readership waiting for the article.

I didn’t even question, at the time, quitting my job and launching the news site, because I was confident in my writing ability.

Not in my news reporting ability. I still would regularly ask my former editor and mentor, Kevin Kelly (you are missed kind sir) for feedback or his thoughts on how I was handling an article.

I definitely wasn’t confident in running an online only news site. I had no idea how to build a website or to upload content to a website. Facebook was fairly new to me. Online only businesses were often considered a scam at that time. I was told, more than once, I’d never get off the ground without a brick-and-mortar location.

Writing was my skill. It was a valuable skill. I was confident in not only my ability, but its value.

And it wasn’t until this moment, right now, that I realized what my problem has been for a very long time now.

Somewhere between then and now, I stopped seeing that skill as valuable.  I didn’t lose confidence in my ability to write; I lost confidence in whether that skill had worth. And because it’s hard to separate a skill you’ve honed since your childhood from yourself, I have a sneaking suspicion that as writing lost value, my self-worth did, too.

I can’t pinpoint exactly when it lost value. It didn’t happen all at once. It was a death by a thousand tiny cuts. A thousand tiny moments. A thousand tiny choices.

It was a lot of little things in society telling me that the written word was falling out of favor and video was King. That no one wanted to read blog posts anymore when they could listen to podcasts. That short content was better. TL:DR (too long, didn’t read) started showing up in comments, and then later as summaries in longer posts.

My first novel, “Finding Evelyn” had been written years before I published it. When I did publish it, I only did so because I learned about Amazon’s publishing platform and was bored one weekend. Unlike when I launched my news site, I had zero confidence that anyone would read the book, much less enjoy it.

By then, I’d nearly stopped writing unless I had to for my job. But then, people did start to read it and much to my surprise, they enjoyed it. And for a short time, that little spark came back, and I thought maybe, just maybe, I could do this author thing. I got excited, again.

But as planned writing sessions were continuously interrupted, to the point I just stopped planning them, and I started to make choices to do other things besides writing, that excitement started to wane, again. I no longer made the choice to write. If I had time, I’d do it. But I didn’t fight to make time to do it.

I might try to write a few sentences on my phone at night, right before I fell asleep. I’d eek out a few more books, none of which were published with even a small amount of the confidence I’d once had. I tried blog posts here and there, but they were rarely finished. There are probably a hundred of them sitting on flash drives because I’d started them in my free time, but then never made it back to them.

Because in the laundry list of tasks in any given day or week, anything I wrote had the least value. It was the lowest priority. And it took this blog post for me to realize that.

I’m not blocked. I’m not depressed. It’s not the ADHD. It’s not anything going on in my life. It’s not that I don’t know what to do next. It’s not a time problem. It’s not a skill problem. It’s not a path problem.

It’s a value problem.

And writing this blog post helped me see that, thanks to one surprise sentence.

Will it automatically be fixed, just because I’ve had the realization? No. Probably not. Life has taught me that problems that took years to create can’t be resolved in a day.

But what I can say is, for the first time in years, I finished this post the same day I started it. I even stopped, grabbed dinner, watched a documentary about June Carter Cash, and came back to it, because I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

It’s 9 p.m. and instead of mindlessly scrolling social media or playing solitaire on my phone while a t.v. show plays in the background until I’m so tired I can’t keep my eyes open, I’m sitting at my computer writing these words. I’m not currently thinking about doing all of those other things, because those other things can wait until I’m done writing.

And while I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, for now, I’m writing because I love it. Because whether this post is valuable to anyone else or not, it has been valuable to me.

Because the value is in doing this thing that I love and that is such a huge part of me.

That is enough. That was enough. It should have always been enough.

It is enough now.

It just took a little freewriting for it to come out.

Update: I also just spent over an hour trying to get this post loaded due to technical difficulties with my site. And I stuck it out. Yesterday, I would have given up on it and done something else.