There is only one thing that has ever tempted me to quit blogging, to stop writing books, to stop trying so hard to wedge myself in among the elite writers — the experts who didn’t have to prove they knew what they were talking about because their words had already done it for them.
For years, people kept telling me I should write a book. Not asking me when I was going to, not politely checking in to see what I might be working on. Telling me it had to be done. “You should write a book! Let me know when you finish a book so I can read it! Have you finished your book yet?”
And this just kept going on and on until at one point I almost decided the pressure was no longer worth it. I wanted to make the conscious choice to write a book. I didn’t want to do it because someone else who apparently knew what was best for me better than I did said I needed to do it.
Something similar has happened with blogging on several different occasions. I got so tired of every blog expert and self-proclaimed guru saying my blog didn’t matter if I wasn’t making money/writing a newsletter/selling something that I almost just gave up altogether.
Why? Because as much as I wanted to make money doing what I loved and grow my audience more quickly and give people more of the help they needed, I also cared more about doing it my way than feeling like I had to do it the way someone else “told” me it needed to be done.
The pressure almost got to me. The pressure to be better, to be perfect, to work harder, to sleep less, to proofread more, to guest post, to only write stories that would sell millions of copies.
But I didn’t. Instead, I let it go.
I think there’s a difference between giving well-meaning writing advice and demanding someone does something the way you want it to be done. I might write a post on this blog about keeping a schedule to make your writing time more productive, but I would never tell you that you HAD to wake up early or HAD to write during your lunch break or HAD to do something I sometimes do just because it might work for me.
I stopped paying attention to everyone who suggested I do things differently because it wasn’t the way they think it should be done. And almost instantly, I felt a weight lift from my chest. I was able to let go of the pressure to write more/better/smarter because I decided I would only change if I thought it was the best move for me.
Now, I personally consider my blog a success because I put a lot of work into it doing things the way I know work best and I get the results I think I deserve for it.
And I’m enjoying working on my book(s) a lot more than I used to because I’m not sitting down to write wondering if every word I type is what an editor or publisher or reader would approve of.
I get more done, now, because I try very hard not to care what other people think.
If I need help or advice, I go looking for it from people/sources I trust. I try their suggestions. If they work, great. If they don’t, then I move on to something else. And if it does work, but I feel overwhelmed because it’s not a method I prefer despite its effectiveness, I only force myself to continue if I truly think it’s worth it.
Will I publish a book someday, on my own time, using the methods I think will be best for me and my audience? I really hope so. But I’m not going to stress about it.
And will I continue channeling what I hope is helpful and worthwhile advice and inspiration into this blog? Absolutely. But if there’s ever a point it’s no longer feasible (whether financially, professionally, or personally), then I’ll make the decision I need to make in that moment based on the circumstances.
Don’t let other people put pressure on you to do things a certain way. And don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be the best. Just try to be better, and push yourself a little. But not so much that you burn out or start to hate what you’re doing.
Let go of the pressure. It’s not worth the mental, emotional, or physical exhaustion.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.