I live a somewhat sheltered life, I always have, and in many respects I think I always will. I don’t really know people. That is to say, I don’t really understand people – not as well as I would like. This is something I’ve realised in the last two years, something which I previously thought I understood in all its nuanced depth; but that was the teenager in me talking, shouting too loud without an audience to listen. Now in my early twenties, I’ve changed, but so too has the world, and at a much faster rate.
I can sit here and whine about all that ails me. About my social anxiety, my generalised anxiety, my depression, and all the other physical symptoms that result from the concoction. But I’m not going to. Not because I don’t think talking helps. But because the time for talking has long since passed. I know and implicitly understand the ins and outs of each one – how they all connect like a huge sticky spiderweb. Talking and endlessly complaining about what I cannot do is pointless, for there are things I could be doing.
I’m Writing… I’m Doing!?
I write every day. Over the last year the blog has accumulated more than 80,000 words, and in the last three years I’ve written more than 250,000 outside of it. Of course the majority of those words are utter drivel that I would never want to read nor re-visit ever again. That’s just how it goes. You move on. You improve, even whilst being completely oblivious of the change. Read something you wrote years ago, and you’ll know exactly what I mean. For a moment it’s uplifting, before the doubt creeps in, stabbing with thoughts “I could have been even better if I’d just have put that little bit more effort it”.
I don’t believe my writing is ‘bad’, I know it isn’t. Yet, this thought gets to me, and confuses me; hating even a whiff of arrogance and ego. Of course there are going to be better writers than myself out there – people who are born with such an aptitude I never had, an aptitude that makes sure the effort I put into my writing means far less than the equal amount of effort put into theirs. I also know the opposite is true – others don’t have the aptitude I do. It’s part of life. We – for the moment – have the brains we have. Some run at a much higher speed from the outset, and there’s nothing we can do about it.
So, naturally, some content is going to be much better than others, regardless of the effort put into it. This is something we all have to accept. It’s not me being pessimistic, realistic if anything. There is no use in having a goal that is unattainable. I would never consider being a physicist, because my brain would never allow it. In the same sense I know with a decent amount of certainty that I will never be able to write like Haruki Murakami. It doesn’t necessarily make me feel sad, a tad envious maybe, jealous on occasion. Though mostly, it pushes my admiration for those people into the stratosphere, because I realise what is needed to create on such a high level.
I have talked about similar things in another piece back in May(2018), discussing what it is to feel so little motivation. This hasn’t changed. Every night I go to sleep praying I won’t feel tired when I awake in the morning. It never happens. Most days I’m a zombie, surviving only on coffee and Modafinil. Still, I have to do something, otherwise what is the point? No matter if it’s 250 words of writing here, or 1000 words of a short story I instantly forget about and never finish. Doing even tiny things makes the tiredness slightly more bearable, slightly more consolable. Despite this, when I spend so much time-consuming such high quality content from creators, I can’t help but feel envious.
Not of what they create, but of their ability to create.
Their ability to create without it consuming so much more time than it should…
Every now and then I will be delivered a lump of sudden motivation, but it’s never enough to finish anything, never enough to make sure the engine is always powered. No doubt, much of it is a consequence of my bad habits. I could be more strict with myself, more assertive. Yet, I’m sat here writing at 1AM… It’s the time when I feel the most awake. It hurts knowing I will have to sleep very soon. I don’t want to. But ‘tomorrow’ might as well not exist if I don’t. That’s the compromise… I write things now, or I don’t write at all.
What Makes for Quality Content?
I don’t believe what people consider ‘quality’ is entirely subjective, in fact, I would go as far as to say nothing is entirely subjective. Objectivity plays a part in everything – outside of society and culture, humans are all the same in a roundabouts way. Therefore, it’s likely what I consider good, others will also consider good. And if enough people think something’s good, then the general consensus will be that it’s… good; those disliking it will be in the minority. This works reversed too. Of course, there are always exceptions based on individual experiences. Still, I believe that quality content is recognisable to a vast majority of people.
There are many things people believe ‘quality content’ to be. The idea that it’s required to be academic is far from the truth – academia inherently interests only a select group because few people outside of the ‘loop’ would understand the concepts, and the writing used to explore them. Therefore to the majority, it would unlikely be entertaining. I believe it has to be one of two things: Entertaining or informative – of course, it can be both. Naturally, depending on what medium the content is, achieving this varies hugely – editing, writing, comedy, statistics, you name it. The book’s wide-open, write something new in there.
Being personal in content is what I value the most, as I think many people do. Why would I sit down and watch one particular anime analysis when I have seen it done exactly the same before, why would I watch that when I can watch dozens of others which say the exact same things, presented in the exact same ways? Instead, I watch the content that offers more than base information – it makes me feel things, it makes me laugh, it makes me feel inspired to create myself.
You have to be exceptional or/and unique.
As everyone says: ‘write for yourself’ this is the best piece of writing advice we can ever heed. I interpret this as, ‘write want you want to read’ because why write something you’d never want to read? That screams madness. It means ‘write the best you can’ because why would we want to ever create content that does not reflect our ability? Considering all this, it’s not hard to believe that the end product would be something other people want to read too… It means, “I want to be the best” because if you don’t want to be the best, then what’s the point? I’m not talking about the semantic notion of being better than your peers… Instead, what it means to constantly develop, to constantly push that boundary on what our own definitions of ‘best’ means. To discover ideas and ways of doing things that were previously alien to us
Being Satisfied With it All
At the end of the day, are we truly satisfied by anything? When it comes to being creative, I don’t believe we should ever be 100% satisfied with the finished result. Because, if we are, we’re saying there’s no room for improvement – something which is never true, irrespective of who you are and what you’re doing. Sure, it may become harder, and the results may not be as visible as they once were… Nevertheless, we can always push things further, and further, and further. It’s up to the individual whether they make the conscious decision to do so. For it is a choice to be made, because at some level, it’s inevitable a person’s goals start to refuse good intentions, passions, and dreams – they begin to push back.
“He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.”
The idea of ‘quality content’ is elusive in every sense. There’s such vast ocean of it to appeal to just about anyone. Enough variation, enough different personalities, enough different methods of production and presentation. The idea of ourselves creating ‘quality content’ always feels like Nirvana, always out of reach, always that step ahead of where we think we currently are. It makes me wonder how we define it. If the notion of quality is also synonymous with popularity and even notoriety… if so, how do those with little to no audience break through a rigid and established front of ‘quality content’?
Thanks for reading, as always!
-Chris (Follow me on Twitter and consider supporting Peach’s Almanac on Patreon!)