Or, why I’m stepping away from blogging
This summer I’ve been thinking long and hard about changes I want and need to make in my writing. Last weekend, after putting together a list of reader recommended books on craft and the writing life, I began reading Steven Pressfield’s Turning Pro. The book is not on the list, but his book The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles is, and when I was checking that the links were current, I found Turning Pro.
Turning Pro isn’t about whether we earn money. It’s about mindset. Attitude. Commitment. Real change—the kind of change that marks a difference between before and after. It’s about living the life we know we should regardless of what anyone else thinks.
Like The War of Art, Turning Pro is a short book but one that took several days to read because I found myself stopping after sections like this:
“Sometimes, when we’re terrified of embracing our true calling, we’ll pursue a shadow calling instead. The shadow career is a metaphor for our real career. Its shape is similar. Its contours feel tantalizingly the same. But a shadow career entails no real risk. If we fail at a shadow career, the consequences are meaningless to us.”
“In the shadow life … [we] pursue callings that take us nowhere and permit ourselves to be controlled by compulsions that we cannot understand (and are not aware of) and whose outcomes serve only to keep us caged, unconscious and going nowhere.”
“Ambition, I have come to believe, is the most primal and sacred fundament of our being. To feel ambition and to act upon it is to embrace the unique calling of our souls. Not to act upon that ambition is to turn our backs on ourselves and on the reason for our existence.”
“What happens when we turn pro is, we finally listen to that still, small voice inside our heads. At last we find the courage to identify the secret dream or love or bliss that we have known all along was our passion, our calling, our destiny.”
In the past week, I haven’t blogged here in part because every time I began, I kept thinking about Pressfield’s concept of shadow. Blogging is, for me, right now, a shadow activity. It hasn’t always been, but at this point in my life it is. I get ideas for shadow activities all the time. A couple of weeks ago, for example, it occurred to me to build on this summer series and put together a short ebook to offer to subscribers, something often recommended as a way to build email lists. I went so far as to think of a title and imagine the layout. Yes, I would enjoy the process, both the writing and the technical aspects. Yes, it would be a good way to attract more readers. But is it a good idea for me, right now? Unequivocally NO.
The inner journey I’ve taken this summer has led to an unexpected but perhaps inevitable conclusion: I keep finding ways to turn my back on my own ambitions. My ambitions aren’t about being on the best-seller list (as nice as that would be, it’s not what drives me) or getting a certain number of social media followers (if anything, I’m leaning more and more away from social media) or being known by other people as a certain kind of writer. Instead, they have to do with how I think of myself as a writer, the kinds of writing I devote myself to, and what I choose to feed my mind and heart every day. The “still, small voice” in my head identifies with clarity what I should be doing, what I should be writing. It paints for me a vivid picture of how to spend my days and emotion and energy. It’s time for me to listen.
To the readers who followed along this summer and offered your own experiences and ideas, thank you. I remain a devoted blog fan and reader and will continue to follow and support other writers’ posts. In no way do I want to imply that blogging is a shadow activity for everyone. When I first started blogging in 2010, it was very useful for me at the time, and has been at other points, as well. And, of course, for many writers, blogging is an integral part of their writing ambition or even their main writing calling or so much fun that it’s worth it. 🙂
I know I am stopping this series in the middle, but it has served its purpose and come to its end, and I’m very excited to move on to the next phase. (And, yes, a little scared, but that’s a good sign, right?)
Nothing changes if nothing changes.