On moving away from measures, writing for oneself, and valuing words as enough
Interesting perspective. But yes, another person who already has a big following popping up on Substack, which is great...I guess. But she already has work that is "read by millions". I felt deflated yesterday that I saw (among other famous writers) Margaret Atwood on Substack. THE Margaret Atwood? Yes. And I wondered how I'd ever get read, seen, heard, noticed in yet another VAST SEA of words and noise and talent and now "checkmarks"...Everyone's story is valid and interesting and some are good writers, some are not. I feel like there's more writers on Substack than readers. I wonder if it's become another echo chamber of us all listening to ourselves talk...or type. Also, I think categories that weren't an afterthought for finding new things to read would be helpful. Am I missing something? I write about how I was abandoned in the Mexican desert after a car wreck surrounded by hundreds of feral dogs and how I started a sanctuary for them. Where would I put that? Humor? Disaster Memoir? Pets? Also, no offense but things that are sent to me that "I might enjoy" are so far off the mark I don't even bother. Fashion? Please. I've been wearing the same $7 flip flops for 3 years. Makeup? Who cares. Fashion Week drivel? Meh. I think the Substack powers that be should be trying to help us build and then making the $ off of our subscriber fees instead of trying to lure huge content creators over to bring their stable of eyeballs and data to make your money. Or do both. I'm not against tech making money I just wish you'd spread it around a little. I'd bet a lot of writers who are looking for a home would thrive if they didn't feel like they were just screaming into another void. It's hard enough some days to sit on your can and do the work. When you think no one's listening it's soul crushing.
You know, that last sentence about "taking a break from it all" reminds me of something I heard a while back about our relationship with the digital world - something like "live in the real world, visit the digital world". The idea being that most of us do the opposite, and we should instead prioritize our time in the areas which we value the most, like petting our dogs and talking with our spouses. It seems to me that this notion could translate to other areas of life - if it's writing that brings you the most joy, live there, and visit social media. Live in the spaces that matter the most, and visit the other ones we care about from time to time. That way, we feel fulfilled at the end of the day instead of wishing we had more time for what really makes us happy.
I relate 💯 to this. I haven’t posted on Substack for months because I became aware of some things about myself that blew me away, and I hadn’t been able to formulate how to express it/the feelings/the process. I definitely want my Substack to be a sacred space. Thank you for sharing-it has validated me and expanded my perspective 💗
You will never know how much I needed to read this today. Your perspective, and the fact that you shared it, have made a big difference. Thank you.
Perfect timing. I'm working on a makeover for my Substack. Letting Jamie's words sink in.
I love your post, Jamie, and the approach to writing on Substack. It reminds me of the blogging ethos of two decades ago (at least what I read about it). I've done something similar with my Substack, The Gift (which was named after the Lewis Hyde book The Gift, which was about making art, and creativity, in our modern world). It's tricky to not let those metrics slip in, or influence, how you think. The pressure feels immense. I also am looking for ways to build out/build up community in ways that are meaningful and soul-affirming.
Lovely post - thanks for the reminder of why we do it, why it matters to be true to ourselves. Thanks, Jamie
Beautifully written. I felt the sentiment behind this deeply as I share the same desire for beauty and authenticity without the need for filters or accompanying music.
This is just amazing. I received a bump from a mention on Substack and suddenly it was all about numbers and why isn't anyone paying to read my writing and that slow spiral into fear. I just wrote those very words-my writing is a sacred space-to a friend who understands. Thank you so much for this. I've had success, I've had years of drought, I never stop. I won't but not because I want anything other than these words on this page.
Now you have opened yourself to the sacred spaces . That is the place where words whisper, where winds walk with a crooked cane and ideas abound in the dark shade of sacred oaks.
I am a forty year disciple of writing for writings sake. I decided years ago to never get caught up in publications and self-promotion but rather to write one poem a week on Sunday mornings and to send it out by email to a poetry group that consists of people who have asked to be included in that mailing. Surprisingly that group has grown over the years much to my amazement, but I digress from my point which is write for the sake of the words need for expression. Listen for the path, see the whispering of the abundant gifts, take the spirit to heart, trust the story to reach its conclusions in the purity of the creative mind.
THANK YOU FOR THIS! AS A NEW SUBSTACK-ER, THIS IS A BALM ✨✨✨✨
I resonated so much with this post as I choose to write only what feels true and worthwhile to me and if it attracts an audience, so be it. However, I do often feel like Substack favours certain types of writers and those with a large paid following for example - when I stumble across a writer's landing page and it automatically tells me how many 100s, 1000s and 10s of 1000s of subscribers they have that can feel pretty deflating.
I wish it was less about the measurement and metrics and more about actually supporting writers to write without the distractions and noise. If it continues on this trajectory, I am afraid that it will begin to feel as triggering and intrusive as social media and so many of us chose SS to get away from it.
I must admit your written words struck a cord in me,for often times I tend to assume that most writers are out for the clout and traffic most especially on socio media, but tyles and intent ,with what you have poured out here on your page,i must confess that this the first for me as a newbie to the writing world, and I am glad to connect with you on substrack
I like the thought that writing is creating a sacred space. When blogging just started out their work was criticized as just being read by other bloggers. The critics didn't realize that people sometimes just write for the joy of transmitting thoughts into words. Getting feedback is just another perk of the craft.
I found this interesting, thank you. I started my project only last month. I've posted weekly on here and been editing the content into bite-sized bits for Instagram. A few days ago I decided to ditch the Instagram. It was sucking the joy out of everything. I was spending so long trying to make the content snazzy and impactful, and for what? I've decided to stick here where people seem to have the attention span to engage with a concept for longer than 20 seconds.
Thank you for sharing this. You put into words what I am feeling about writing, social media and just wanting to find a sacred space to get my ideas out of my head and onto paper.