When I started this blog, I wasn’t really sure what form I wanted it to take. I knew I wanted to talk about some of the things I care about, like intentional living and creativity, and I knew I wanted to connect with others who share those interests, but beyond that I didn’t have much of a plan.
A few years ago I started a different blog, but stopped posting after about six months and cancelled my hosting when it came time for its annual renewal. I had big dreams for that blog, and I was determined to do everything ‘right’: building an audience, developing an email list, connecting on social media. And when, after months of effort, my monthly page views were paltry and my email list only had about twenty subscribers, I lost my motivation.
I’d become so concerned with growing my blog’s audience that I lost sight of why I wanted to blog in the first place. Because the truth is I didn’t want to write those ‘how to start a bullet journal’ posts, or any of the actionable, instructive posts all the advice on blogging I read told me were the most effective and useful posts. I wanted to write more pensive and reflective posts, posts that allowed me to share my thoughts and experiences with like-minded people.
I’m noticing this again with Savour & Dream. My favourite posts so far, the ones that have flowed out of my fingertips in a heady rush, have been the more introspective ones. There are two in particular that come to mind when I think of my blog and why I enjoy it: this one on decluttering and this one on my month without telly. Neither is a How-To, as such; instead they’re posts where I was reflecting on something as much for my own benefit as for anyone else’s.
Of course, connecting with readers is a key part of blogging. It’s why I’m typing this up here for the world to see instead of writing it privately in a journal. But connection isn’t about big page views; it’s about the fellow bloggers I’ve met on Instagram, the silent individuals who might read my words and feel seen. It’s about you.
There’s this pernicious societal idea that we should do everything to the fullest extent. It’s not enough to cook dinner – no, you must cook a wholesome Paleo dinner from scratch. It’s not enough for your home to be clean – no, it must rival the most beautifully-designed rooms on Pinterest.
And when it comes to a lot of creative hobbies, including blogging, the underlying assumption is that it’s a side-hustle or potential full-time career. It’s about throwing yourself into your creative work with everything you’ve got, not because the act of creation itself is so joy-filled, so vital to the continued beating of your heart, but because that’s the best way to increase your chances of people paying you to do it.
When it comes to marketing your creativity, there are pros and cons on both sides. On the one hand, it provides the opportunity to devote your time to something you love, and to craft a meaningful life on your own terms. On the other, it places pressure on your art to support you rather than simply speaking from your heart.
Either way, if you’re a creative person you’re likely familiar with the pressure we place on ourselves to grow and improve. In my case, my novels are immensely important to me. I want to publish them and share my stories with the world, and I’m working every day towards making that a reality, by practising my craft and by improving my stories until they’re ready to share.
This is why I think it’s important to have low-pressure hobbies, particularly creative ones. These are the things that we do for the sheer joy of them, without much in the way of expectations for the outcome.
That’s not to say there’s no effort to strive for improvement, but that that effort is part of the joy. For instance, I have a black belt in karate. There was a lot of anxiety leading up to my black belt grading, training sessions where I was convinced my sensei was going to tell me that letting me grade was a mistake, and the day of the exam I felt so nauseous I had to force my breakfast down out of fear that if I didn’t I’d pass out halfway through.
But that period, of maybe a month or two of serious pressure, was a tiny speck in the ocean of my karate career. Most days I go to class excited to learn, determined to train hard because it fills me with joy. There’s no real goal here, nothing but the desire to learn and improve. If my back kicks are great, that’s something to be proud of, and if I mess up my open-handed blocks, that’s just something to work on. No judgement, no pressure.
Kayte Ferris and Jessica Rose Williams recently did a podcast episode on hobbies, and the lovely Giulia on Instagram did a post on how her writing is a hobby, not a side hustle. And I jumped on the bandwagon with an Instagram post about how I’m learning Gaelic even though there’s no ‘point’ to it. It’s at once strange and unsurprising to me that this should be something to talk about at all. Doing something simply because we want to is surely one of the most basic of human urges, and yet at the same time we have this notion that everything should be productive, everything should be done as a means to an end, rather than as the end itself.
And I don’t want that for this blog. I place enough pressure on my writing with my novels, and for me Savour & Dream is a place to write without that pressure, to share and create because the act of creating itself is what brings joy.
Even now, as I’m thinking of what to name this post, I’m thinking about SEO. Yes, even though I’ve just written an entire post on how I don’t want this blog to turn into a quest for likes and pageviews. And I think that’s because it still feels like if I’m putting in the effort to write this, I should be putting in the effort to make sure people see it.
This is my permission slip. This is me giving myself permission to follow this blog wherever it might go. To write because it helps me figure things out for myself, or because I want a record, or simply because I happen to feel like it.
And it’s your permission slip, too. For whatever it is that you want to do in your heart but that you don’t see any logical reason to. Whether it’s taking dance lessons, learning a new language, or taking up sewing, don’t hold back because you think there’s no point.
I promise you, there is.