This one’s for the writers and the judges. Close your eyes for a second, and see if you can pull up the muscle memory of observing a volleyball match. (Is it called a match? Hmm.) Never been to volleyball? Think about tennis or ping pong. Pickle ball?
OK. These are great analogies for human reactivity.
Let’s apply this to social media. Actually, let’s not. That’s more like ping pong with a ball full of firecrackers. Let’s apply it to our opinions of ourselves, though, which are the ultimate subterranean source for our artesian feeds. We click based on interests, research, confirmation biases and validation needs. This means we are driven by either curiosity OR insecurities.
If you blog, you’ve seen the plethora of articles written about how you should blog, as in–how often, what to avoid, how to get more likes, clicks, etc. All of this equates to engagement, followers, purpose–which feel nice, when you’re bobbing along in a sea overflowing with others competing for the same place:
Recognition. Publishing. The ever-elusive dollars. Click, click, click.
NOW, have you read about how you should tell your story, then turned around and read about the value of not oversharing?
Why did you click on each of those?
Differently, have you read much about how your blog will find its audience? How writing is an art? How your art is nobody’s business? How if you are making art properly, it will make people feel? How they will not always feel good? How sometimes you’ll write something and not one person will like or understand it?
Have you read about how something being branded an “overshare” has to do with the words bouncing off of a person’s ability to read them objectively, avoid personalizing them, and/or let them in?
Volleyball. And in some instances, think Track. Running.
It feels important to clarify. Your share is an overshare if YOU deem it an overshare. If, 24 hours after you’ve shared something, it is still giving you that prickly little sensation of doom in your guts, maybe you’ve overshared. If it doesn’t, then congratulations, you are a seasoned sharer of your most intimate truths, and people are going to react off of you like it’s the Fourth of July, and some will have no option but to turn and/or run away. (Usually they run a safe enough distance, and then turn back to watch from there, you should know if you don’t already.)
The choice to shape your art should never be about society’s squeamishness, discomfort, or rejection. It can be about your vulnerability, safety, and learning to hone what is right for YOU. If you write something and you don’t feel safe having shared it, you get to remove it (unless its gone public, of course–pass the kleenex and hoodie). You get to replace it with a statement of how you removed the writing because it made you feel too exposed, and you’re still learning what balance of self-exploitation versus sharing is right for you.
Writing about others? Always ask their permission. My spouse knows every single thing I put on here that even alludes to him or our marriage. He says yes, or no. My kids? They get to say. My daughter loves the sharing. My son is more private. That is fair, and here’s the thing–I keep asking because these things change over time. If my writing ever makes me money, I’ll share it with them. (That’s right, my writing earns zero money. Lots of positive regard and provocative and/or healing ripples to feed the community, which counts, but no money.)
This brings us to advertisements, passive income, and paying to boost your posts. I don’t, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. For me, writing is the outlet. I don’t want to deal with all the gimmicks. I want to write and hone where my lines are. I’m learning to uncover the stories and let them speak for themselves. The audience is finding itself. I just keep writing, sans need for validation. Yes, it’s hard.
Click safely here, my friends, there are no nickels falling into a magical account that pays for half of my coffee budget.
One day, when my children are older, and more vacant than present in my home, I’ll write to chase the elusive dollar. Of course I will. For now, I write in response to what I hear and see going on in the world, what appears to need attending to, and to hold up love. That is enough right now.
If you write, Write. Do the gimmicks, or don’t. Read about writing, but focus on the posts that nourish your craft, not the ones that prematurely prune it. All pruning should come from you, as you learn to shape your own elegant place in the sea of bobbing hopefuls. And while clicks, likes, and engagement matter, so do the immeasurably quiet observers, who will never engage, but who leave your post with the spark of a new and beautiful idea you may never even know about.