I view the handful of months writing for a blog network as a valuable learning experience. I appreciated the challenge of writing on a single topic with a deadline of 10am every morning. I enjoyed the camaraderie that came from the community of writers. I gained my first exposure to social networking sites and I was forced to view my writing from the perspective of what might draw readers. I feel better equipped to write on the fly, tie up a concise argument on a small scope, and use WordPress. I am absolutely grateful to everyone who stopped by the site, left comments, and e-mailed me articles to reference. As an exercise, writing for the network was a successful one for me.
I didn’t enjoy writing on a topic about which I only have experiential expertise of a narrow set of circumstances. JG was my only really serious boyfriend and we’ve only been married for two years. Sure, my stories might have their own appeal, but did they give me inherent credibility? I shied away from posts of the “Ask RA” variety out of fear that a reader would pose a situation that might require serious intervention or therapy, neither of which I am able to diagnose nor provide. I felt uncomfortable wearing an unearned badge of knowledge because I wanted to be a reliable resource.
On top of that, I’m working to be a better writer, not a marketer. The double-duty position of both supplying content and getting the world to notice it was a detrimental combination for me. I’d write what I thought was useful or compelling with the grim knowledge that it would never float to the front pages of social networking sites. Then, I’d try to conjure articles that might draw votes on those sites, but I didn’t quite believe what I was writing. Ultimately, I felt like both my writing and my stats suffered, which was such a lose-lose situation. I know that some folks can write and market simultaneously, but I am an introvert in real life as well as online. Asking others to read what I’ve written is anxiety-producing and not because I don’t believe I’m a skilled writer. I want my words to speak for themselves; I don’t want to prop them up with a tag line.
At the end of the day, I felt like I lived with my fingers tapping on a keyboard. After a full day at work, the time spent writing, doing auxiliary research, voting, and responding to comments grew to be more than I wanted to handle. Some might turn down their noses at my inability to commit more time, but I am not a full-time writer who is able to sink deeply into a project. Trying to massage my ideas about relationships into a palatable format for the sake of votes was not the plan. Searching newspapers, columns, and blogs for anything relationship-centric that I could quickly summarize just to get to the point where I could close my laptop was not the plan. Going to bed hours after JG and saying good night to a slumbering body was not the plan.
All of this is not to say that I have hard feelings toward 451 Press. I’m actually really curious about how the network will progress over time. Simply put, writing for a network, even with ad revenue, was not the right fit for me. I’m proud of quite a few articles I wrote for the site, including my final one, so perhaps I’ll revisit them in the future. I’ll continue to plug away in these parts, but most importantly, on my own terms.