I almost always go through two stages with writing online. I start writing, then write more, and more and more. During this time I start to open up, reveal aspects about myself and show my work. Then something will happen. It might be an innocent comment that I take the wrong way, it might be something which doesn’t turn out the way I hope. OR it might be someone who leaves a “helpful” comment (and by that I mean they leave a horrible nasty comment) about something I’ve written or the idea and action behind that writing.
At that point I usually just want to crawl up and die, hide and not come out of my shell. I’ll feel terrible and worthless, I’ll question pretty much everything I do. This will last a while until slowly I start writing again and the cycle will start again.
Because things online are less obviously personal, it can be easier to open up in a way we wouldn’t face to face. For me, I find it easier to write about certain topics or ideas rather than talk about them, because it gives me time to really work through my thoughts before speaking. I also have the advantage of seeing my words before me and not a disapproving face. Then the encouragement of a kind comment or social share becons me to do more, share more and be more open.
When disapproval finally does come (because there’s always someone who hates you on the internet. And hate isn’t an overstatement there. I’m sure that there is someone who absolutely hates what you are doing out there either because they are jealous, or their worldview is so different from yours). It feels so unexpected.
I’d love to say I’ve got better at dealing with disapproval over time, but I’m not sure that’s true. I was recently at a teacher’s conference and I was pretty open there, at the same time I was waiting for something bad to hit me afterwards. For the pushback against the comments I made, the ideas I shared, or even against me personally.
I’ve been writing more recently, here and elsewhere. I’ve shared more about myself and I feel I should share more still. At the same time, I’m waiting for that pushback. Those comments condemning me for being me.
Art requires you to be vunerable
As an artist (be that writer, photographer, entrepreneur or even a speaker) you have to be vunerable. Art by its very nature is about sharing a peice of work and asking people “What do you think?” Perhaps a key aspect of great art is that it doesn’t care what you think. Van Gough loved his work even though it wasn’t well received. Vivian Maier took so many photos and never intended to get them developed, Garry Winogrand left thousands of rolls undeveloped because he was too focused on taking more photos.
If you (or I) want to be a great artists, we have to be vunerable. Show something that really matters, share our ideas and work. Someone will no doubt hate it, but that’s part of art.
Do you struggle with these issues?