Writing From The Ordinary

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

There were two primary factors driving my decision six months ago to start this blog. First, I wanted to keep myself writing. Not only is it something I enjoy, but being able to articulate thoughts and ideas clearly is a skill that everyone should have, and practice makes perfect.

The second factor was that I wanted to document my life enough to allow me to really appreciate it. To have a record of everything. My personal journals tend to only be used if I'm upset, so they're filled with more angry, illegible scribbles than anything else. Here, I'm putting things out there. Things that I can look back on, things that hopefully other people can relate to.

But the question is... how can I write anything worthwhile from living an ordinary life?

I see bloggers who've traveled solo, who've had life-changing encounters, who've experienced the absolute worst and come out the other side a brand new person; bloggers who want nothing less than to change the world. I, on the other hand, am less extraordinary. I travel, yes, but it's not on my own, and it's usually not even funded from my own wallet. I haven't experienced anything too tragic either (and it's the tragic stuff that ends up making the best stories, isn't it?). I work full-time, and much of my free time during the week is spent at the gym or doing mundane activities, like cooking or doing laundry. 

I feel a lot of pressure to write something that's satisfying to other people. To write a certain way, about certain things, using certain words. An unknown stranger recently called my writing style abysmal. It stung, and I felt the immediate need to defend myself. The lessons I've learned aren't trite. My thoughts aren't borderline stupid. My writing style is different than others' – so what. ("Different" doesn't mean better or worse – it means different, remember?) It bothered me more than it should have. It had me questioning my writing, trying to figure out how I could possibly make it better when I only have an ordinary life to draw from.

This conflict led me to think... Am I doing this for me or for them? And that's where I get torn.

I'm torn between two things I want from these posts.

1. To write, to document, to express myself. I'm doing this for me.
2. To voice thoughts that people can relate to, to connect with others, to make some sort of difference. I'm doing this for them.

I sat here and thought about who I was doing this for, as if there could only be one answer. This division brought me back to my internal battle between being a blogger or a writer, and struggling to fulfill the expectations that come with identifying as a writer. If I consider myself a writer, then I should only be doing this for me. But that's not true. Writers care about the readers and want to make a difference too. Hell, that's why authors write books. I don't care about being FAMOUS, and I don't expect to change the world (nor do I think I could handle that). I just want to make some sort of impact.

How can I do that from living an ordinary life?

I guess by just doing it.

When I have an idea of something to write about,  I'll write about it. If not, I won't force anything.

Because maybe it isn't the specific content or the diction that attracts readers... maybe it's the passion behind it. After all, there are successful blogs in every category imaginable. Fashion blogs, food blogs, blogs that focus on TV or movies or traveling or video games. For any topic you can think of, there are readers. It's the PASSION that counts. The authors care about what they're writing. They're invested in it. That's what makes it quality work – not the substance, but the emotion pouring through their words.

I'm feeling pressure, but maybe it's just from myself. I'm feeling obligated to write like other people, and to write what they write about, hoping to make something of myself when all it does is make me like everyone else. Painfully ironic.

It's okay to write for them, but that doesn't mean all of "them" are going to like it. It doesn't mean that I'm going to get hundreds of views or comments. What matters is that my writing is genuine. That's enough. In fact, instead of furiously typing out the swarm of sentences in my head only to edit it down to phrasing I thought would appeal to other people, I tried to keep this post as raw as possible. Most of it is that original furious typing.

In seeking guidance from a writer I admire from afar, I received a piece of advice that I'll continue to carry with me:

"Even if it just seems like you're rambling and reflecting about your own life, you don't know who could be reading, who it could be helping ... Don't ever think your dreams are not valid because they aren't to change the world. After all, the world you live is your world."

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