Do I Continue Writing For My Own Vanity or Something Greater?

person sketching on paper

In my younger years, I sipped on the sweet nectar of blissful ignorant dreams that a starlet in training generates quite without effort nor rational thought. But, no longer do I cling to the delusions that I was meant to be an up and coming lyricist. Rather, I was unwittingly training myself to become an essayist; this would mean I’d find myself doomed to wallow in self pity. Yet, I’d simultaneously bask in the afterglow that crafting long and convoluted sentences brings to the drunken artist.

For many years, I longed for my journalistic efforts and historical analyses to become the premier focus of my seemingly tireless acts of composition. Alas, I found myself mired in distractions of my own making, instead choosing to participate in what ultimately became hollow pursuits. Yet these unfulfilled years did bring with them great wisdom I’m still yet to impart.

These learnings of hard earned wisdom are utterly worthless to anyone, perhaps even myself, unless they are given some sort of permanence in written form. The trouble is deciding where to begin in relating this knowledge. Despite being well aware of the advice to start where you are and worry about where you’ll end up later, I still hesitate and give into my persistent demons of self doubt. In many cases, I still concern myself with trending topics simply out of a need to feel accomplished in terms of getting clicks to my online purview. Sometimes, I feel my online self-publishing has become little more than a foolish act of vanity.

That isn’t to say no one is reading my work; on the contrary, I still get views daily on a wide variety of my self-published articles. What troubles me is what gets the most views are the content I wrote mainly for recreational purposes, topics that trend purely for their entertainment value, and not for edification and self-improvement. So, why do I keep writing on more esoteric topics even though hardly any one is reading them? Is my pursuit of maintaining a sense of intellectualism in my work only a part of chasing vanity?

My work ethic has always been fairly strong, although I do experience lengthy periods of burnout that lead to long absences from daily writing tasks. This is why I began to post on a very loose schedule. For quite some time, I was convinced being a daily blogger wasn’t for me. For a time, I felt I needed time for certain ideas to ferment more than others before they could be shared to the public. My standards for what I post have become extremely high in my mid-thirties, and they become higher with each piece that I share. But, the more that I ponder my reasons for maintaining my content production, I realize now my obsession with quality is actually not borne of a sense of vanity, but rather, from my own standards for professionalism and credibility.

As a long time search engine optimization (aka SEO) specialist, I guarantee you that sometimes I simply need to escape the inherent limitations of trending keywords, no matter how niche they may be. I learned long ago that your number of readers and social media followers is nowhere as important as the quality of your readership, and this was practical, real-world business experience. If no one’s reading the work I want to succeed most because it’s not ranked well on Google, that’s OK with me.

The idea I’ve finally settled on is to have some content for the search engines, some for dedicated readers of my work, and others that were written just because I wanted to write them. At the end of the day, many of the questions I ask myself I’m sure are ones I know others ask themselves privately. Google often doesn’t have the answers these curious minds seek, and perhaps, I can inform and engage a few of them.

Amelia Desertsong is a former content marketing specialist turned essayist and creative nonfiction author. She writes articles on many niche hobbies and obscure curiosities, pretty much whatever tickles her fancy.
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