I know what you’re thinking: this looks like a blog post to me. No, in fact, it is not. (Silly reader. If I can read your mind, don’t you think I know a blog post when I write one?) A blog post is a self-contained reflection based on the writer’s extensive knowledge and wisdom. This is an explanation of why you won’t be reading one of those today.
I’m going on a retreat with my jr. highers tomorrow, so I felt pressure to write a brilliant, witty, wise blog post after a marathon, mind-frying homework session.
This is not that blog post.
Do you know why? Of course you don’t. (I decided I use too many rhetorical questions, so I decided to answer it, so now it’s not a rhetorical question. Or is it? Wait, that’s definitely rhetorical. Oh, forget it.)
I realized that I was writing this blog post for the wrong reasons. Red flag: I was stressed out about what to write and knew I had to get it done tonight (or, presumably, the world would end). I post every Wednesday and every Saturday. And today I have to get it done early because I’m leaving for the whole weekend. End of story.
Pressure can be fine in some situations. Homework, for example, or job assignments. Deadlines are great, and sometimes even self-imposed deadlines can be helpful motivating factors.
But guess what? Sometimes it can be even more helpful to get a little perspective. Here’s what I realized when I thought about why I was stressed about this blog post:
- I was operating under the assumption that everyone in the world (or in my Facebook community) would absolutely perish without reading what I had to say.
- Writing this blog had gone from routine to ritual. (This was a problem with religion in Jesus’ time, if you noticed.) How could I tell? Because the content of my writing was a means to an end instead of an end in itself. That’s always a good indicator (or a bad indicator, depending on how you look at it).
- Sometimes, things you love can also be a burden (anyone who has kids is agreeing with me right now). Stress isn’t necessarily a sign that I need to stop what I’m doing. BUT, in this case, I can relieve the stress easily and without hurting anyone. For example, if I had kids and decided they were too stressful, dropping them off in the Wal-Mart deli with a note taped to their stroller would be a terrible life decision with awful consequences. Choosing not to write a deep, spiritual blog post and instead being honest about why I am not doing so is not that kind of terrible life decision.
So, there you go. Motives. Attitudes. Consequences of actions. Those are all great things to consider as you approach a writing project, whether that’s a blog, a story, or a novel. They’re also good to consider in any other area of life where you find yourself questioning why something you love is stressing you out. Try it. It’ll be fun, and a little bit freeing too, I’m guessing.
This is kind of a case study in quitting the circus, in case you were thinking that the only part involved in that is getting rid of activities and time commitments. For me, quitting the circus means knowing why I do what I do. When those “whys” are stupid or selfish, I try to not do what I was going to do, or I change my attitude. When those “whys” are great, I…well, actually that doesn’t happen very often. I’m a selfish person.
If you are too, join me. Ask why you do what you do. Then ask God to help you change.