Every time I spun up my word processor, I felt a slithering cold crawl up my back as my mind went fuzzy. I wasn’t sick or unwell; I could just feel the game of buzzword bingo was about to begin whether I wanted it to or not. The passion had faded as much as my throughput had. I was running on autopilot by now.
Now, I’ve run on autopilot before, but this was different. I couldn’t get myself back in front of the wheel no matter how hard I tried. It was one thing to zone out while writing about widgets and how they’ll leverage latent synergies to enable you to focus on your core competencies based on big data analytics, but quite another to realize I couldn’t get out of the head space. I was the hammer and buzzwords were my nails.
I had sold out. Now, I don’t really mind selling out personally, but there’s a difference between happily peddling your wares and feeling like you’ve sold out. I felt what my transaction was costing my soul and sanity.
I had gotten (more) jaded (than usual) about my writing. It was from playing buzzword bingo going through marketing packet after marketing packet in an everlasting corpus of marketing collateral crossing it all with the news and trends online. We aren’t exactly in the best of times right now and being constantly reminded did me no favors. Combine that with the fact that my job was to hobble together buzzword heavy, targeted articles and it was draining me dry.
Writing was no longer flirting with the line between passion and pay, it was just flirting with nihilistic humor about the banality of what I was doing. I had lost the meaning behind my writing. That feeling of accomplishment had been stripped away and ruined from wearing the mask for too long.
Each word became harder and harder to string on the line cluttered with sterile adjectives, nouns, and verbs which I peddled as heated passion for the topics at hand. The poison had seeped from what I wrote for work into what I wrote for myself. I wasn’t chasing relaxation; I was trying to hit my metrics.
Once I stopped to really think about what I was doing, I realized I had hit writer’s block. I wasn’t out of topics, I was out of passion to fuel the creative process. Normally I could reboot my writing process, but this time called for more extreme measures.
I had become disconnected from the world and needed to reconnect and find passion in what I was doing again. Writing had gone from being a release and a feeling of accomplishment to a mind-numbing chore. The deeper I got into an article, the more I got lost in my brain fog. In the end, I didn’t even recognize what I wrote.
I had spent so much time chasing my writing in between work and family that I had cut out a lot of the experiences I needed to advance. All I did was try to grind out more content, further grinding myself down. I became the butt of my own joke about hustle culture; I had lost myself and life’s enjoyment looking for a way to get ahead.
Stepping away for a minute let me waste time watching TV and movies, reading materials which were not for a project, researching stuff for no real reason, and just not trying to monetize every millisecond of my time. I had sold out to an extreme that left me cratered and wasted. Taking a break let me breathe again.
Why are you doing what you’re doing? What do you enjoy and how are you working towards that goal? I get if you see no light in the tunnel and feel you’ll die before you retire, but what is the ideal?
Growing as a Person
I took some time to just relax, slow down, and focus on nothing. I had to grow as a person to get back to where anything really mattered. Selling what I was writing had overtaken my actual writing process. This became an assembly line where I wasn’t getting the fulfillment I wanted from the process.
I had to let go of writing, blogging, and researching to allow myself to grow where I needed. I hadn’t been experiencing the joys of doing something for the sake of doing it; I was continuously analyzing the financial incentives and viability of everything I was doing. This obsession choked back my ability to just coast and grow in the world despite the chaos.
I had been shaving my hair and a layer of skin until there was irritation, it was time to just let things grow naturally for a bit and address the changes later. Letting the wind blow me around like branches on a tree for a bit let me grow more stable. I couldn’t fight nature, I had to embrace it and grow.
Why are you writing? What do you get out of the process? What are you doing this for? I had lost sight of the answers to each of those and had to let myself grow and recover to where the answers made sense again.
Rekindling the Flame
As I found my groove, I could focus on the financial viability of things I cared about. I was no longer beholden to the idea of making money, I was making money by providing a service. It was a subtle shift with profound implications. I was running the show rather than letting the show run me.
Taking a couple months to really just not focus on writing (since I couldn’t take off of my other job) helped me reconnect with myself, grow, and rekindle the flames of passion for writing. I feel like I’m writing something that matters and does something for me instead of another piece about widgets. Hell, this article may be complete garbage and that’s okay; I’m alright with it. Writing for money is fine, but it was draining and I needed to learn to balance living life with mining topics even if it meant a reduction in throughput.
The flame had gone out for so long the wood was cool. It would take time to grow the flame of passion and get back to the level I was at previously. I had rekindled a flame, not restarted the same fire which had burned out.
It took me a long time to see the problem and rectify it with my writing. I had let myself sell out until I left myself with nothing of substance. I had undermined and undersold myself to try and get ahead while burning away the essence of why I even did it.
Once I became cognizant of the nightmare I had inflicted on myself, I took time to reorient myself and step out of being a writer for a bit. I had affixed this label to myself and become a hustle culture meme against my best self interests. When I stepped away I was able to recover and regrow towards what I had lost. My passion slowly rekindled enabled me to get back to writing for fun and for sport. The worst part is it sounds obvious but wasn’t in the moment.
Where are you in the cycle of writing and are you working against yourself? Do you need a break? Are you getting ahead of yourself? It took me breaking myself to see the damage I had continuously been doing. Are you ready for a break or just ready for more? I now know where I am, but I learned it at a terrible cost and disservice to myself.
Originally published at https://somedudesays.com on April 11, 2021.