Tami Parker Fantasy Author & Other Duties as Assigned

On Discouragement and “Hate Reading”

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The Unclimactic Climax

I unfollowed a blog the other day.

It was an excellent writer’s blog. Frequent updates of a very high quality, including a system to showcase old content that was still relevant but potentially new to many of the readers.

It was witty, entertaining, and it gave superb advice.

Unfortunately, I never once left it feeling fired up and excited to write.

I ALWAYS left it with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. A feeling of shame and worthlessness and hopelessness.

It’s Not You, It’s Me

It took me a very long time to realize what was happening because the blog itself is intended to help writers.

It must be me, I said to myself. His advice isn’t wrong. For example, I SHOULD write every day if I actually want to be a writer.

So I told myself the problem was with me rather than with his blog. That it was my failings as a writer that needed fixing. That I couldn’t turn away from the ugly truth just because I didn’t want to hear it. The very fact that I felt guilt when I read his advice was proof enough that I had something I knew I was doing wrong.

Right?

WRONG.

It’s Not Your Life, It’s Mine

So here’s the thing.

It doesn’t matter if he gave good advice.

He wasn’t giving good advice FOR ME.

I should have stopped following him months ago. Not only was I not his target audience, I was the opposite. I was the lazy wannabe writer he so often impaled on the sharpness of his wit.

I was reading because I thought it would make me a better writer but in truth all I was doing was hurting myself.

He didn’t lie or falsely advertise his blog.

HE TOLD ME HE WAS HOLDING A SPEAR. It’s hardly his fault I kept blindly running forward and stabbing myself with it.

His readership wants his message. Needs it. Theoretically, it is helping them hone their writing edge.

I Need Something Else

I want to spend my time on things that elevate me. Things that inspire me and make me feel good about writing. Things that make me think “hey, I could do that,” or “that’s a great idea, I should try that.”

I know that not all writing is rainbows and unicorns. I know that it’s often a slog. I know that selling a book is a combination of luck and skill that I can never guarantee.

I know, I know, I know.

So I don’t need to keep rubbing my face in it. It doesn’t help me any more than it does a dog or cat making a mess on the carpet.

I need positive reinforcement.

“Hate Reading”

I mention it to you because I realized what I was doing and I want you to stop and think about the social media YOU consume.

Granted, my example is writing related, but you’re not all writers here. You probably ARE all folks who wade in the complex, foggy miasma of the InterWebs.

Do you have blogs that you follow out of a sense of obligation or duty?

Do you have content you read that riles you up in a bad way, that angers or sickens or disgusts you on the regular?

Is it affecting your well-being throughout the day? Is it affecting your pleasure in activities you used to enjoy? Is your reaction to it affecting your friends or family?

Then my suggestion is … maybe stop hate reading.

Maybe stop reading things that make you feel hate.

Self-Defense

YOU HAVE PERMISSION TO PROTECT YOURSELF.

The world is out there and as an American citizen who Can See The Shit Happening, I know how easy it is to fall down several different kinds of awful, horrible, wells.

I know how easy it is to feel like you HAVE to read it. You HAVE to expose yourself to this awfulness because if you don’t, you’re just deliberately being ignorant.

Right?

Wrong.

Just because you aren’t deliberately diving into a river of sewage daily in order to Make Yourself A Better Person, that doesn’t mean you have to be ignorant of what’s happening and that you can’t or shouldn’t do the right thing.

Find Your Warriors

There are people out there who THRIVE on this. There are people for whom it isn’t hate reading. They are our warriors, our defenders, our champions. I salute them and I depend upon them.

I try to find those people and read what they share and listen to what they have to say, because I am trying to find a balance somewhere between burying my head in the sand and caring so much I shred the heart on my sleeve daily.

I pick my battles based on my energy levels and the things around me. I vote with my money. I vote with my vote. I don’t back down when “mild” racism or misogyny crop up in my life. (Well, I try. I’m not even close to perfect, but I am making an effort).

Honor those on the front line fighting the battles you cannot.

And Unfollow The Rest

Everyone has a different limit. For me, that particular writing blog was having the opposite effect on me – I associated writing with failure, which is just about the worst thing that could have happened to my productivity.

(Sorry, the blog was encroaching on politics there, so I’m wrapping it up. I’m not interested in preaching to a choir OR a lively round of sea-lioning from anyone looking to spark a debate.)

I just … I want everyone to drop any burdens they don’t need. If you can lighten your mental and emotional load, please consider doing it.

9 comments

  • You might remember a few years ago after I finished my book and went through the soul-crushing (at the time) realization that I’m not a writer. I posted a few comments here and there after I had a similar epiphany to yours above. It wasn’t the same for me, of course, but overall very similar. That’s when I decided that even though I enjoyed the writing I did, I didn’t have to be a “real” writer if I didn’t want to. I realize the point of your post covers much more than just writing, and I’m glad you’re going to let yourself off the hook, it will help you be much happier.
    And guess what? Your phenomenal writing talent could once again bring you joy! And on your terms!

    • <3 I still think you've got more in the embers of your writing skill than you believe, but I respect your decision to step down.

      You're too right on "letting myself off the hook" though, that's a great way to put it. I am still going to write, but I'm going to focus on enjoying it again instead of holding myself up to some impossible standards. <3

  • This comment has nothing to do with the content of this article, but is merely an observation: I just got a BUNCH (maybe all?) of your Tami Parker articles in my feed reader today (rather than “as posted”). Just thought it was a little odd, and there’s probably no need for you to investigate–Feedly occasionally will spew forth a deluge of articles from a given source.

    Also, enjoying the dickens out of these posts. 🙂

    • Uhh . . . correction: It was only today’s down through Stitch Fix Update #2 . . . and they were in a long email, not Feedly. Whatever. Again, don’t worry about it . . . this is more a place for me to note that it happened.

      • I had some technical difficulties hosting the blog at tamiparker.com/blog so I nuked it from orbit and made it host at tamiparker.com instead. That’s probably what happened. =]

  • Good advice — and not just for blogs.

    After the last elections I stopped reading American news. I asked myself, “Does reading this make me happy? No. Does it make me a better person? No. Is this information I need to know to survive? No. Then stop.”

    The change was miraculous. Stress dropped tons. I started sleeping through the night again. I mostly read European news — Le Monde, El Pais, the BBC. If something important happens, they mention it. But they don’t wallow in insanity the way that the US press seems to.

    Applied the same rule to social media with the same results. Some days Twitter just gets me down. When it does, I stop reading it.

    I have a friend who says that the news enrages her so much that she sits in her living room screaming and screaming at the tv. I asked her why she did this to herself. She said she “had” to. She could not accept the idea that SHE was the one turning the tv on, and she could choose not to do it.

    I’m glad you cut negativity (for you) out of your life. That’s a critical step towards happiness!

    • <3 It's such a hard thing to give yourself permission to do. You're absolutely right about it being a critical step towards happiness.

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