For me, creativity is the joy of life. It is also a delicate fire that can be easily put out if not properly nurtured. Being creative requires a willingness to fail. It seems that for every ten failures there is one success. Very often that one success is not possible without those ten preceding failures. Being creative (at least for me) requires a certain level of exposure. There has to exist the opportunity to be judged by others to raise the stakes and risk catastrophe. This raising of the stakes gives it an energy that it would not otherwise have. This means that creativity requires a willingness to be vulnerable. In this way there are two counterbalancing forces at play. On the one hand creativity requires nurturing but on the other it must also risk negative judgment.
I make myself vulnerable in this way on a weekly basis when I write this blog. I write about what I am thinking. I enjoy the process of creating and putting it out there. The fact that what I write can be read by other people matters more than whether it is actually read because all of this is an internal and solipsistic process. In other words it is my own anticipation of my writing being read by others that (to a certain extent) fuels the fire of creativity
On the other hand there are very real, judgmental and sometimes hostile voices out there. These voices can manifest themselves as actual people in my blog’s comment section or as an internal critical voice. To a degree I enjoy their hostility because there is a power in getting their reaction. This is an ego based sort of enjoyment and as such is ultimately self annihilating in nature. As is the judgmental hostility it is interacting with. For this reason this enjoyment is something that I am not all together comfortable with. There is also a certain amount of defiance of this hostility on my part at play in this dynamic. This also fuels the fire. Moreover, if I were to not write and publish for fear of being judged I would only be stifling myself. This is a another form of self annihilation. So I must write.
These hostile forces share similar qualities. They all seem to take offense at true expression on supposed moral grounds. This is always the way with the ego who is threatened by the free expression of others. The ego is always comparing itself to others and placing everything on a hierarchy. It is threatened by the idea of equality and it employs shame to create this false hierarchy very likely because that weapon was used so successfully on it. I suspect there is jealousy at play here. The hostile force’s free expression had been shut down by shame and so it cannot bear to see free expression in others. It touches a point of pain that is too much to endure. Because it cannot be free no one else can be either. It sees freedom as rebellion and radical autonomy. It denies that freedom is actually the expression of one’s true nature which is the expression of God’s will.
I have been writing this blog for the better part of four years and am steadily approaching 10,000 views. My viewership has gradually crept upward since I started this endeavor. Although I do not think my number of views is particularly impressive I do think I have learned a few things about increasing traffic to my blog.
Write from the heart
The written content I create on this blog comes from what I think is interesting at the moment. It can span different topics but it is always in my voice. Other people will tell you that your blog should be about one topic or theme to increase viewership. This may be true but if I did that I would not be writing from the heart and I think when content is created more for the purpose of attracting viewership than to convey the content of the post this motive becomes apparent to the readers and is inherently less interesting to them.
Bait a White Supremacist
By far the most traffic I ever received on this blog was when I caught the attention of a stalking troll named Thordaddy. Much of this increased traffic derived from him commenting on my posts and me counter commenting. I do believe there was a bit of ancillary traffic that resulted from other readers observing this interchange as well. At any rate it was a great source of content because I then created posts which analyzed the comment section of the previous post. There was, however, a downside in that dealing with his evil negativity on a daily basis began to drain my energy. This is the reason why I stopped engaging him but there is no denying the uptick in views that resulted from our interplay.
I try to write at least one 500 to 1,000 word post every week. I do believe that writing with this amount of consistency attracts more viewers than if I wrote blog posts in a less predictable fashion. The other benefit to writing consistently is that it strengthens the writing muscle which makes it easier to create quality content on a consistent basis which in turn (I suspect) attracts more readers.
Write about Passive-Aggressive Behavior
By far the most read post that I have written is Passive Aggressive Behavior the Truth Will Set You Free. I am not sure if it was the title that got people interested. I have since tried to write other articles about passive aggressive behavior to see if they too would attract readers. Of course that tactic violated my first directive to write from the heart which may be the reason why they have not been as popular as the first post on that topic.
Write about Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” In December
I wrote a few posts on Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” a couple of years ago that have consistently gotten more views every time December rolls around. I guess the take home message is that people like to read about things which are on their minds. In this instance the Christmas season seems to make people want to read about “A Christmas Carol.”
In conclusion, I am sure there are SEO types out there who would definitely know more about attracting readers based upon keywords, word count and links influencing the relevance in a Google search listing. I am not so interested in that for the purposes of this blog post. Mainly I just wanted to share the things that seemed to work for me in their limited capacity.
Yesterday I wrote a blog post about how to stay in a job you hate. In the post I talk about an office job I worked and hated for ten years. It was sarcastic and discussed the things I did to make the passage of time less excruciatingly boring and how I avoided going down those dark thought holes that lead to life dread and depression. I ended up not posting it because I envisioned applying for a job in the future and not getting an interview because someone stumbled across the post. I actually thought the post was pretty funny and clever. And I have heard that the most successful posts are the ones where you feel a little scared to post them. I have not confirmed this statistically (nor could I probably) but I feel like there is some truth to this idea. The posts where I am a little afraid to publish are the ones that expose some secret part of myself and contain real emotion. Anyway, I ended up not posting it because I was scared that it might come back and bite me down the line. This is an example of me not putting myself out there. It might be a missed opportunity. Maybe some book publisher or movie producer might have stumbled upon it and offered me some kind of book or movie deal. This is where my mind goes anyway.
As I said, I did not end up putting myself out there on that one. But I know I have to put myself out there sometimes otherwise I will remain stuck and frustrated with life. But the act of putting myself out there is tough for me because I am shame oriented and expect people to judge me negatively. I can forgive myself for not publishing that post because I recently did put myself out there in an e-book I recently self published. I fear other people’s reactions to this book because I got pretty personal talking about my emotions and I mention other people although I did not identify anyone other than myself specifically by name. Still, anyone who knows me would probably be able to figure out who most of the people are.
On that one I did put myself out there. I cast the die and let the chips fall where they may. Mostly likely nothing will result from it one way or the other. That is probably worse than getting a bad reaction come to think of it. The fear of no reaction is actually a big reason not to put myself out there. Of course if I do not put myself out there I guarantee that I will receive no reaction. To bring things full circle, I think not putting myself out there was certainly a contributing factor as to why I stayed working a job I hated for ten years of my life. Of course the root of this behavior is fear and fear is not easily overcome but it can be.
The desire for fame for the sake of fame seems to me to be motivated by shame. We all want to be loved. The shame ego wants to be loved as well but it also believes that if other people knew the real “it”, they would reject it. So it forgets about the things that make it lovable and the things it loves and only focuses on trying to get other people to love it through deception (because truth will not work). When they do not love it (perhaps because they sense it is being fake) it hates them for it.
In third grade auditioned for a part in the play Hansel and Gretel. I pictured myself on stage entertaining people and receiving applause. After the audition I found out I had been assigned the role of background tree. I had no lines and stood in the background during one scene of the play. I was devastated. I could not understand why the teachers assigning the roles did not recognize my talents. I was used to being picked last for the kickball teams at recess and being assigned to the outfield in Little League baseball. But that was sports. This was something creative, the area in which I thought I excelled. The night I received my role I cried myself to sleep.
I have consistently acted in life that if I played by the rules, worked hard and denied myself eventually I would be rewarded. The world would love me some day. So far I have pretty much been a background tree. That is all I will ever be if I wait for the world to reward me for “paying my dues.”
At the same time there is the sense that if I do not achieve success in life that my life will be a failure and I will be humiliated. But if I unpack the idea of success it has less to do with achieving something specific and more to do with achieving the notoriety that comes with achieving something specific. It has to do with achieving fame and the approval of others. This is my shame ego’s prime motivation.
With acting, it should be for the love of acting and not the desire for fame. Even when I write this blog I find myself really motivated by the number of hits I get. But is that so wrong? It seems misplaced. To write the best blog it seems to me the focus should be on the writing and not on the reaction to the writing. Or maybe it is okay for there to be a little of both motivations.
I am in the process of finishing a book I hope to e-publish in the near future. I find myself struggling with the idea that I need to accomplish something (like publishing a book) because it will then validate my life in some way. I picture myself being interviewed, having a new source of income and reading the reviews. But then I think about society collapsing soon after, making wealth and fame irrelevant. Is it selfish to want these things? My shame ego definitely wants to convince me of this. It also wants me to feel foolish for even thinking it is possible. I was born to be a background tree after all.