On Repeat

About eight years ago, shortly after I graduated college[1], I worked together with a group of friends from college to form a sports blog intended to parody writing seen at places like Sports Illustrated and ESPN. It seemed like a good idea at the time. There weren’t a ton of people writing comedic posts with sports as a topic on the internet. Sure, Sports Pickle and Down Goes Brown were out there…but that was about it. With a group of seven of us writing, we could each do one post a week, yet still have enough content to have something going up daily.

Our project didn’t even make it through a full week before someone missed their deadline. Within six weeks, I was the only one left writing. I wrote three times a week for just short of six months before giving up on the project.

I’m more of a social person than I’d like to admit. While I enjoy being away from the world — and believe me, I’d much rather be by myself than near most any human being — I do still crave feedback. Not just any feedback, mind you. Telling me that my work was terrible or that it was perfect would be equally poor pieces of feedback. It tells me that you think they’re bad, but not why.

Over the years, I’ve learned to parse out what feedback is constructive and what is not. Even if I don’t agree with a piece of feedback, it can still help me to make my work better. This is particularly true on my creative work, as having feedback that pushes me to be better generally does make me better. As such, I love working collaboratively on creative projects. This is particularly true when trying to do things like satire, comedy, or fiction writing.

In from early 2012 through mid 2013, I was very fortunate to have three exceptional individuals to bounce ideas off of to create fiction writing. While I didn’t rely on any one of them in particular, I found that presenting the same idea to each of them allowed me to have three uniquely creative perspectives to help transform my story ideas into actual stories. Some of my best work in terms of plot and characters came out of that time frame. By the end of 2013, two of the three people were gone. I’ll still hear from the third on occasion, but the collaborative writing we used to do together has all but stopped.

I am one of the few millennials who really doesn’t like social media. I had my fill of it very early on. The best social media experience I’ve had was through Twenty Something Bloggers, but that site has been defunct for years now[2]. I still use Twitter a good bit, but I’ve found its turned into an echo chamber where you’ll only hear what you want to hear[3]. Facebook is worse, and I’ve been gone from it for years as a result. Meanwhile, other social media sites like Instagram and Snapchat have never caught my attention. I’m not much for pictures. The written word has a power to it that is hard to describe.

Despite that, I know that if I want to grow as an author — to reach out with my written works and reach others — I need to branch out in other ways. I’ve tried vlogging. I’ve tried podcasting. The former project died six months in. The latter lasted eight months, but seems destined to a similar fate.

On one hand, I know none of these things are anyone’s fault. People’s interests change. People’s time commitments change. On the other hand, I can’t help but think there must be something I’m doing wrong for this to keep happening. Sure, the circumstances are different every time, but to circle back a few months after being so enthusiastic about a project only to find myself having failed again is so disheartening.

Maybe it’s time for a new project. Maybe it’s time to reinvest my time in an old project. I’m not really sure at this point. I just want something I do to be successful.

On Repeat

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6 thoughts on “On Repeat

  1. I feel you on this. I tend to go through the same thing. I find a lot of people get momentum and ideas, but don’t necessarily consider the work that has to go into making it successful. Sometimes, it’s just people getting burned out creatively (I’m still trying to get it back after the work fiasco last year).

    Honestly though, I’ve been feeling very similarly about projects. I miss the kinds of communities I was a part of before social media was a thing. Before I even knew about 20SB there were several creative writing sites I was an active part of, including one that was built up of about 15 or so artists/writers that had all met on Fictionpress.com years ago. That has also since died.

    But I miss it. Much like 20SB, they were places that fostered my creativity because I could share in that creativity with others. I could help them shape their work, and they could help me shape mine. It was as much about reading and contributing support to others’ work as it was to producing our own. I do pine for those days. We often did so many wonderful, collaborative projects, and they were beautiful. I miss that.

    I loved the opportunity to comment on your story through the Google docs because of that very reason. I realize I fell off the boat a bit with the most recent chapter you had uploaded, but that was mostly that I didn’t have much to comment on. But those are the kinds of things I find I thrive in.

    1. Oh I’m still full on in burn-out mode, though admittedly a lot of it is from non-my writing things. I’ve had chapter 3 of the AI Project story that’s been on here (not sure if you’ve read that) in my head mapped out for about a month now, but haven’t been able to get more than a sentence or two written in that time. It makes me sad.

      I do miss the community feeling of 20SB. I keep thinking it’d be interesting to go to something like PodCon or Nerdfighteria, but I generally don’t have the time or money to make either of those happen. Most of my friends and others I know in real life don’t particularly care about my writing/creative works, so I’m limited there too.

      I killed the Google Doc story off because I couldn’t write a story as absurd as the reality we’re living in now. That said, I may revive that format at some point soon. We’ll see though.

        1. Definitely will do. I might do it with the AI Project. I’m finding 8,000-10,000 word posts aren’t great for traffic.

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