There’s a trend I’ve noticed this year. Three of my favourite writers quit blogging (and two quit twitter) for a few months. They all cited some combination of fatigue, disorientation or lack of inspiration.
After hundreds of beautifully written, wonderfully vulnerable posts, they disconnected and looked out the window and remembered there was a world beyond words.
The ability to step back and take stock, to rest, is admirable. Writing for writing’s sake is death by ink.
Anyone can blurt out a few ambiguous tweets in the heat of hurt or happiness and call it vulnerability, but the energy it takes to write with honesty, authenticity and precision is great. And often life-consuming. And more often, unappreciated.
Not as many years ago as I’d like, I was one of the girls who used twitter and blogging as an exercise in mildly pathetic stream-of-consciousness.
'I'm having Special K for breakfast and thinking of him.'
'Urgh. Well I guess that says it all, DOESN'T IT?'
'[insert wistful love song lyric]'
I rotated on an emotional scale of about three different (all equally embarrassing) notes, and didn’t give a hoot who read it. Readers didn’t need the specifics of ‘him’ or ‘you’. I just wanted them to know LOVE, ANGER, PAIN. To know I was a human that felt things.
At some point, thank goodness, I had a few birthdays and realised the cool kids didn’t do that me-show stuff so much. And I stopped.
And then I swung the other way for a bit, and didn’t share anything.
And then for a while most of my writing was commissioned, so that mitigated the perilous over-share problem. Even while writing about sex and loneliness and selfishness and anger and ego, I’ve kept readers firmly at arms length.
My blogs in the past two years have had none of the brash LOVE, ANGER, PAIN. And perhaps that is ok. But I am still a human that feels things.
Today, several weeks after I wrote all of the things you just read in this blog, I sat in a room with some threads and rhythms writers and we agreed: vulnerability is good. Self indulgence is not.
It’s ok if some things never make it off the pages of your personal journal.
It’s ok to have an angry thought, or a wave of despair. You don’t need to publish it for it to become capital-R Real.
It’s ok to say nothing for a while.
It’s ok, too, to tell your story. It’s ok to tell mine. More than ok; vulnerability is the stuff of good story-telling.
If we as communicators are to do something more important than simply chucking words at the web, we need to be rooted in truth and purpose within our vulnerability.
I get the feeling that burnout happens when we lose sight of those things. And I’m grateful for the reminder today.