Writing (Mental) Block

A trying-so-hard approach of deconstructing the mind.

The perfect is the enemy of the good.

– Voltaire

With all many grand reasons for me to writing and starting a blog (again), there’s always a situation when I got hit by the feeling that this content might just a stupid idea.

Depending on the goal. Starting blog is already a challenge, and writing it is another level of the game. There are like thousands of writing and blogging tips overload, just stressing us out instead.  

I supposed to keep things simple here. But apparently, it’s not as easier than I could plan. And, being able to keep blog regularly updated already sounds like an enormous commitment.

Back in the day

I created my first blog in 2002 during my uni-days.

Online diary writing was an integral part of the rising of digital culture back then, marking a new age of social media. It was also the big momentum of widespread Internet acceptance amongst college peers for networking in early 2000s.

I signed up for a few popular platforms such as Blogger, Living Journal, Blogspot, MySpace, Tumblr…yet all ended up as a history. One by one.

My grand attempt to work out such an organic and fun personal content turned out to be just a temporary desire. It’s merely an illusion of grandeur for me, being an aspiring blogger at the time.

I’m not alone, anyway. Many bloggers fail and just stop writing, even before the journey begin. Major reason is “not enough time” or “not enough idea” then we give up.

Now that I’m back in the game, I began to question whether this blog would have the same fate as its predecessor. There must be tons of story worth spilling ever since my last active blog, like, 10 years ago?

How can I nail it this time?

Come to think of it, I discovered that while writing needs precious contemplation time and content management, it’s also about a mental game. As a matter of fact, writing really is a mentally challenging job, which requires a hard-core thinking.

For me, the fine line between “published” and “deleted” is very much affected by these three major internal factors:

1. Self-expression: the language

English is not my mother tongue: this is a real issue. Technically.

You may notice that my vocabulary size is very standard. There are many common phrases and repetitive adverbs. Confusing grammar, maybe.

I’m aware of my level of English may possess grammar errors of here and there many people will assume I’m forcing it. That said, I’d still love using English to write my blog in. It’s not because I want to sound smartest among my native peers, but it’s much easier to speak up in English.

I just feel more comfortable conveying my emotions in English, which apparently less awkward, rather in using my native language, Bahasa. 

It came to realize that English is the most “liberating” language in terms of literary creativity. It’s very dynamic. The dynamism of the language makes it more flexible for expressing yourself in English, without limitation, when you are literally “dumping out” your mind but still sounds cool.

Photo by Cody Engel on Unsplash

So, writing in English is better? It depends.

Many articles I found emphasizing a few factors to decide whether English is the best language for a blog. And if you are wondering whether it is better to write in English, or in our own language instead, the 1st basic factor is always figuring out what the goal is. 

Sure thing, English is the best language option for my blog to connect easily with anyone worldwide. The audience reach is huge and I can get higher chance of monetization, meaning potential profit. But this is not my current intention, I don’t write for a living (yet).

Process-wise. Of course, it takes much efforts for me to write in English compared to write in Bahasa; I spent a longer time to review whether my words are making sense or not. But I welcome of dealing with such double workload when English is the “best” language I could feel content the most.

2. I am not good enough

There is no such thing like magic where you can get instant successful writing overnight. You might have a messy start like on a first day of work.

Then, why do we bother so much to be able to write a masterpiece?

I’m not sure if I’m possibly suffered from a mental disorder of battling my inner monologue. But I do. I do overthink. I constantly think about things I should have better to say or to write. I can’t help myself worry that I am supposed to be better. 

All the while, I’m just wasting more time analyzing rather than making action because I want everything to be a perfect plan. And the weakest point in that plan is I’m not doing good enough.

Can anyone relate?

Making a blog content, I had written and rewritten the piece, mulling on every word, rehash the entire story…

I want my writing to be perfect I often overthink every word and sentence, the narrative, the structure. There is a little tiny voice inside my head, imagining how I should look and sound when my writing is done. Eventually, I am torturing myself.

As yet I have not decided what writing style I default to by using English as the primary language. My writing is never to look good to me.

By the end of posting decision, I would struggle to see this blog does not appeal enough to present the best version of my idea and is utterly uncompelling.

I should write it better, according to myself.

On the other hand

There is another interesting yet provocative theory.

A counter-intuitive approach that I overthink because I do feel I am good enough. I am (so) good; that I am (possibly) not that good.

I know that I have always had a talent for writing. By “talent” is meant a stated category that defines the set of my (personal) perceptions; a single judgement to convince my unconscious mind that I always need to be good at writing.

David A. Kenny on his book “Interpersonal Perception, Second Edition: The Foundation of Social Relationships” explains a judgment (of a person made to himself or to another person) is thought to be unitary but research has shown that the single judgment actually consists of several components. And failing to decompose such (set) perception can lead to incomplete, insufficient and sometimes even mistaken conclusions.

In my case, being an Over-thinker, it leads to an uncontrolled expectation. If you read “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson. I’m now (unconsciously) in a state of giving-too-much-f*ck attitude.

Mark Manson has been working on correcting our delusional expectations that we are having an endless amount of f*cks to give, which is getting us being more f*cked up instead.

Well, okay. Enough with the F word.

One captivating theory Mark quoted is the “backwards law” created by the philosopher Alan Watts — the idea that the more you pursue feeling better all the time, the less satisfied you become, as pursuing something only reinforces the fact that you lack it in the first place.

Thus, the more I desperately want to write perfect and create a coolest blog (I wish…), the stupid idea and terrible content I often see in my writing, regardless of me being a newbie or even a non-English speaker.

3. Social anxiety

The odd fact over my life as I do public speaking frequently and my day job is to meet many people.

But frankly.

I hate being in a crowd. I’m fairly anti-social. I’m incapable of pleasing people (unless it’s very necessary, I could make it well done). And the idea of a personal branding often irritates me (saying this after years of working in marketing industry). 

If social media has grown to be a massive part in our lives, I’m but a speck of dust in this digital world with a lack of enthusiasm for networking and making friend.

I don’t know. I’m just not eager for living a life with such a conspicuous lifestyle. We define ourselves with the way we use and consume everyday objects. It looks constantly overwhelming.

Or, simply I have got nothing impressive to be “shown off”.

The point is, being social does not always mean you are a sociable person.

Certainly I would feel delighted to bring a meaningful conversation through my writing but having the fact that I would document some aspects of my life, uncensoring my deepest thought on a platform openly accessed by anyone, I could feel my anxiety risen had my “true layer” get exposed. 

Any public digital footprint I created would put me on the judgment spotlight, and I would fear what others might think of me in certain ways.

Maybe my fear of being judged is triggered by our judgmental society. My circle, to be exact. 

At schools, office, community or even while being at home with your family (that’s supposed to be the least harmful people to you), the judgment game is never ending. You’re many times expected to live on a level of people (or your family) expect from you. They are usually trying to confine your options (or even your thought) to what they deem acceptable.

At some points, “worrying” of what other thinks is an inevitable part on daily life. There’s no way to get out unless you’re such an “inconsiderate bastard”.

It is in our nature to desire to be liked and reach the acceptance, irrespective of our own feelings. Indeed, I am dying to be selfish.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

And yet

With all that said, I’m now starring blankly at my laptop, painfully aware that while creating blog sounds impressive, letting the words flow freely is a way harder than I thought. I want to give myself a pat on the back and cheerfully say that this blog ain’t so bad. We just started it! 😊

Cheers! K.

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