I've thought about this relative lack of posting off and on: why it might be happening, why I haven't been particularly motivated to change it. But it didn't really come into focus until today, when tarysande reblogged a great post by jadesabre301, "Jade's Guide to Not Caring About the Number of Notes You Get" (which I immediately reblogged with a link to "Internet Popularity and The Claw", which seemed an appropriate addendum).
In a way, Jade's Guide isn't anything I didn't already know. These are all guidelines I try to follow, to one extent or another. But it resonated with me right now, particularly Steps 6 and 8: Post When You Write Something and Write More. Because that's exactly what I haven't been doing: posting, and writing more. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized: my problem is The Little Hater.
The Little Hater is a concept presented by the always-briliant Jay Smooth, in a video about creativity and communication and getting stuck. I've posted about this video before*, but we can always stand to watch it again.
The whole thing is worth watching, but here's the key quote:
I’m sure there are people who wake up every day feeling confident that the entire world wants to look at their face and listen to them talk, but I’m not one of those people. When I’m in the groove, and getting work done, and I feel like I’m making the connection with you guys out there… it feels natural to keep showing up and maintaining that connection. But if I go too long without putting work in, and it feels like that connection is broken, there’s a little voice inside my head that starts playing tricks on me, and trying to convince me that the connection was never really there.
Jay calls that voice The Little Hater, and my Little Hater has been dogging at me for ages now, particularly around my journaling. That voice sends me into a death spiral of perfectionism and procrastination, telling me that no one really cares what I have to say, and it isn't really that good anyway, and if I'm going to post something in my journal now, it had better be good to make up for all the days (weeks, months) of inattention. So I'll start on something, but then get stuck on it and don't finish it (like the Agents of SHIELD post I started writing in June), or I don't bother to write it at all (I've had links in open tabs about the latest "misogyny in gaming culture" blowup for weeks now). It happens with fanfic, too; I start a story and then abandon it, halfway through or even as a final draft, after convincing myself that it's not worth posting. I haven't crossposted from Tumblr in forever (except for the fic WIP meme from yesterday), and I haven't reblogged a Tumblr meme or posted fic there in quite a while. A lack of creation leads to a lack of communication which leads to a lack of connection, and that causes a feeling of isolation that feeds back on itself.
The only way I've ever found to break out of these negative feedback loops is to swim upstream against them. Force myself to write even when I'm not inspired, to post even when I'm not 100% happy with the results, and so here I am, writing about this, and putting the post out for the world to see. At the very least, I need to notice this cycle while it's happening, if only to remind myself that it's not reality, it's just The Little Hater.
And The Little Hater is a liar.
Even when it doesn't feel like it.
*I wanted to link that post here, but going through my archives and trying to find it turned into a project that I was using to procrastinate writing this post, which is exactly one of the traps that The Little Hater likes to use against me. ;) So I stopped looking and got to writing; apologies to those of you for whom this is a partial repeat.
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