Tag Archives: Giving Up

The “Valley of Despair” Sucks

I sometimes frequent the blogging subreddit, but not too frequently. The sub seems to focus mostly on increasing viewers, finding topics to write about, and doesn’t seem too concerned with the “art” of blogging. It isn’t too active of a sub with most posts getting at most between 20 to 30 comments. Compared to some subreddits (like the famed r/wallstreetbets) it isn’t really active even if you can find some decent information from time to time.

I still check it out sometimes and one comment resonated with me this past week. The actual discussion was about how many blogs actually “make it.” (which is an unexplained victory condition: what the hell does “making it” blogging mean? Make money? Keep it running for more than two years? I mean eventually you’ll die and your blog will end but that doesn’t seem like you’ve “failed at it.” Anyways, /rant #1.) There were varying answers but the one that stuck with me was one that mentioned “the valley of despair.” [Big Fucking Note here: I went and found the thread I was alluding too and the poster in question referred to it as “the dip” and linked to blog describing “the dip.” I really have no idea how I came upon the term “valley of despair” in regards to blogging, but apparently the term is real. Who fucking knows. Maybe my mind just connects dots on its own and doesn’t notify me that it’s doing so. Or maybe I’m losing my damn mind. I just wanted to stay accurate with what I’m actually writing.] I didn’t officially know what the hell the valley of despair was but something in the back of my mind knew it too well. Even if it wasn’t explained to me I already knew exactly what it was.

I suppose it’s easy to see in retrospect, as everything is. This blog right here had a “dead period” (actually two of them) not too long ago and since I’ve gotten my act together I’m finding some success. It feels like I’ve hit a stride where all I need to do is to keep working at the blog and it’ll be successful. I’m quietly confident about it and while I don’t think it’ll ever be a super-popular monetized thing I know it won’t be a “dead blog.” Looking back at those dead periods when I wasn’t writing, wasn’t posting, and felt about deleting the damn thing was, obviously, the dreaded valley of despair. And according to that one resonating Reddit comment, is the primary obstacle to successful blogging.

I didn’t want to make this post about blogging though because I’m in a new valley of despair in another area of my life: creative writing. To sum it up quickly, me, lost without any major goals, decided to take up creative writing about three weeks ago. I attempted this years ago and just didn’t stick with it, but this time it’s different. (Really. I’m fucking sticking to it this time.) I took my old blog and started collecting some short stories and chapters to a “book,” made a Facebook author’s page for myself, and started posting and sharing my work (please go check these out if you’re interested). Initially I was met with some warm reception from a few friends and, holy fuck, I was actually doing it! I was going to be Jeremy the Author Guy and sell books and shit. I was riding the wave and on top of the world was king of the world.

It’s funny what two weeks can do to you though. My last few “chapters” haven’t had shit for readers/viewers/likes/feedback at all, and I’m fundamentally wondering if I’m actually cut out to be a writer. Do I even have that “gift” that creative writing requires. (It doesn’t. I’m convinced, logically, that all anything takes is hard work and “talent” is just some bullshit idea people who don’t want to do hard work use as an excuse to not try anything. /rant #2.) Even if I know in my mind that it’s just hard work and dedication, I still feel in my heart there is some vague thing called “talent” that I might not have and will never have it even if I don’t believe it. It’s like some festering, subconscious fear I have, like being scared of the dark knowing well you’re perfectly safe. Hell, and maybe my stories are just terrible. This is a really scary thought because if they were no one would say it out of kindness. I’d like to really know how bad I am so I can either 1. give the fuck up or 2. know what I’m bad at exactly so I can improve on it. But pestering friends and family to read your shit is a whole new level of cringe that just comes across as attention seeking. BUT I JUST WANT FEEDBACK GUYS.

Let’s define this a little bit more though as it makes total sense with writing/blogging/whatever new project you’ve started. Some uninspired Googling has given me a bunch of charts and websites talking about “emotional change” and while that isn’t exactly what starting a project is, I think it’s close enough to actually be the same thing. Like maybe starting a new project is a subset of “emotional change” as you’re adjusting to having an entire new part of your life you’re dedicated to. There also is apparently a Dunning-Kruger valley of despair, but that doesn’t seem to be relevant to the topic at hand.

Since I couldn’t find a site that seemed legit or non-clickbaity enough, I just screencapped everything Google tossed at me. As you can see most charts show the same sort of trend when faced with “change.” It’s kinda like a sine curve or something.

Close enough, right?

And then I went and drew my own so I can talk about each point I labeled, as well as not get any sort of copyright bullshit tossed at me.

Current Mood vs. XP Points Gained at your “project” or whatever you’re doing. It seemed general enough.
  1. This is usually called “uninformed optimism” or some shit like that. Basically this is the point where you’re high off actually making a decision to progress forward at something. You have a goal that you’ve set upon and you start working towards it. Actually doing work towards a goal feels fucking amazing and even if you’re scared of the future, at least you’re taking matters into your own hands.
  2. This is the start of the valley of despair also called something lame like “informed pessimism.” This is where you realize that your goal isn’t going to be all fun and games and that, holy hell, sometimes doing a glorious and noble task like writing a book is actually not that fun sometimes. And sometimes it’s actual work that you dread.
  3. The pit of the valley of despair. I think with creative writing I’m somewhere between #2 and #3 (although I’d like to be closer to #3 so I can actually get over feeling awful about it. I don’t even know how to explain this spot on the chart because it’s like an unexplainable pit in your stomach. It’s a total feeling of shit, like you’re not meant or cut out to do what you’ve set out to do. Like the universe itself doesn’t want you as an author/blogger/artist/whatever. It makes you want to quit and many people do give up their project in this phase. The project feels like a mistake: a mistake that you continue to put time, effort, and resources towards that also feels like a waste of all of these. The general feeling of being shit is also kinda shitty. There doesn’t seem to be a way forward and you’re not happy doing what you’re doing. It’s a feeling of being lost and of wanting to toss the towel in and give up.
  4. “Informed optimism.” After hard work and giving up all hope you find some success but you’re not letting that shit go to your head because you think you still fucking suck at what you’re doing, but there are clear signs of progress if you quit being pessimistic enough to notice them. I like to think you make progress continually at this stage because of giving up in the valley of despair. You simply don’t care if you make it or not and your project just becomes something you do without attachment anymore. There’s something very freeing about not giving a shit, and this allows you to do what you do in the most genuine way possible. I say this so clearly because this blog right here is at #4 I think. I don’t give a fuck if no one reads it or if I fail, and contrary to what you’d expect, I’m actually have some success with it.
  5. Success! (whatever that actually means) I don’t even want to get into this because I don’t know what it’s like to be at #5. I’m assuming this is the point where you feel confident at what you’re doing — a quiet confidence that isn’t cocky — and your project has become a facet of who you are and part of your life. You accomplish things in a determined but carefree manner. I get this impression when I visit successful and mature blogs as well as many YouTube channels. Like go watch a newer SmarterEveryDay video and tell me Destin isn’t at #5 on this chart. That man is in the zone doing what he’s doing and he’s confident and enthusiastic with what he’s doing.

“Hey Black Haired Guy, got any tips for us bloggers/writers weathering the storm in the valley of despair?” No, no I do not because, like I said, I’m not at #5 so don’t think I am qualified to give tips and am kinda hoping for tips myself. But if anything (and maybe to just get myself fucking hyped the fuck up to continue on creatively writing) don’t give up! Because what else are you supposed to do besides not give up? If you give up in the valley of despair you’re fucking giving up. The whole thing this chart hints at is the fact that success might just be making it through the valley in the first place. Like maybe this is where the 80 or 90% of blogs that “don’t make it” go to die; what if the valley of despair is just the great filter between you and success? I just don’t see what you’d gain by giving up because giving up is giving up!

Being slightly more specific maybe I do have more ways to get myself siked up more tips for those in the valley of despair. Make small bits of progress: a book isn’t going to write itself in a few days and a blog won’t be successful in the first few months or years. Take things one tiny bit at a time. Write a chapter every two days or post a blog post every few days or every week. Maybe make a schedule and hold yourself to it like it’s a job? Try to summon memories from when you first started and we’re enthusiastic about your dream/goal. Find that passion that surely still lives deep within you. And if you’re really lost? Write down a plan. Writing seems to be a large part in marketing yourself so try doing that for some possible success. Ask people to read and critique your writings and learn from it. Or, to sum up what I said before: don’t fucking give up!

Giving Up Sucks: Blogging

First off let me say that I really don’t like blogging about blogging. It seems like a really cheap and easy way to get people to read your stuff, because obviously people who blog are interested in blogging so would like to read a blog about blogs. Yeah. And I also don’t like writing about “success” or “being successful” because I’m not successful so why should I be spouting shit about success when I know nothing about it? It’s like listening to financial advice from a poor person or dieting tips from someone who’s obese or anorexic. But here we are anyways. I guess what I’m trying to say is that on the path to success (which I think I’m on I guess) there’s about a million difficulties you run into and if that’s causing me so much frustration and anguish I might as well write about them. Other people are probably dealing with some of the same struggles and feelings. This is called Everything Sucks and being successful is probably the hardest thing ever, so it fits I suppose.

This post is about a blog and failure and how I suppose it’s nice to quit sometimes. This obviously don’t feel good which is why it Sucks. I started a blog in February that was about electric cars. I had purchased one about a year ago and since there are tons of misconceptions about the things I thought blogging would be a great way to enlighten the masses about how great they are. I really like my electric car because of a ton of reasons and I wanted to get that information out into the world.

I was enthusiastic about the blog; it had focus, a narrow topic, and seemingly tons of things to write about. I’ve said before Everything Sucks is a mess because it has no real “tight theme” which apparently blogs are supposed to have so I felt excited about finally have a good blog idea. You read articles about how to really blog and they usually suggested those few things. I set to work on it immediately. I made a post every two days, made sure the design looked acceptable, and even made a Facebook page for the blog. Hell, I even advertised for the blog! It took about a week for the page to have over 100 “likes” and I felt good. Things were moving along nicely.

And then I didn’t write as much for it. It wasn’t for lack of motivation either; I just couldn’t think about topics to write about. When it came down to it an electric car is nearly the same as a gas car and there’s only so much writing you can do about how efficient and cheap they are to operate. One of my premises — namely the one about having a ton to write about — was wrong apparently. There wasn’t much to write about.

You end up with two choices. You can either give up, accept failure, and move on or keep trying to make progress. It’s a choice we all make in regards to nearly anything: a difficult job, relationships, careers, and goals. This choice is made more difficult by the often-heard adage about success: it’s all due to persistence. The people who are successful don’t give up at the first sign of difficulty and if you give it you feel like shit. You’re a failure. You’re [insert goal here] is an automatic failure if you stop working on it.

What did I do? I gave up on it. Do I feel like shit? Sort of, just because it was wasted time. But strangely I don’t feel too bad about it. Even though we’re conditioned to feel like failures sometimes it’s best to realize when you don’t have a way forward and try something else. You can keep banging your head into a wall trying to make progress but sometimes that wall isn’t going to give and you need to move on. Accepting this is probably the hardest part.

I think of what Hunter S. Thompson said in a letter to his friend asking for advice:

“We set up a goal which demands of us certain things: and we do these things. We adjust to the demands of a concept which CANNOT be valid. When you were young, let us say that you wanted to be a fireman. I feel reasonably safe in saying that you no longer want to be a fireman. Why? Because your perspective has changed. It’s not the fireman who has changed, but you. Every man is the sum total of his reactions to experience. As your experiences differ and multiply, you become a different man, and hence your perspective changes. This goes on and on. Every reaction is a learning process; every significant experience alters your perspective.”

He gives the perspective of a child who wants to be a firefighter when he grows up. Everyone wants to be something cool like that, either a firefighter or a veterinarian or an astronaut. None of us actually become these things but we don’t feel like we failed out dreams because we eventually outgrow them, or rather see the goals from a different angle, as Thompson puts it. It’s this ever-changing growth in ourselves and our ever-changing perspective on life that forces us to also make ever-changing choices regarding our goals and dreams. It’s simply not set in stone: you have to constantly figure out what it is you need to do.

I guess it’s with that perspective that I gave up on my blog. I had a good run for a few months and for once I hit it hard with tons of motivation and little procrastination: two of my biggest flaws. Eventually I found that there wasn’t much to write about and that maybe my idea wasn’t that good. I felt terrible about this at first because I had wasted so much time on the blog and I obviously felt like a failure for “giving up” but fact is fact. With my ever-changing perspective on the state and future of the blog I was able to realize that my time would be better spent elsewhere. I still learned a bunch of lessons and those won’t disappear either. So don’t feel like you’re a failure because you had to give something up. Obviously try to make progress because persistence does seem to be key, but realize when something has run its course and don’t be afraid to move on to new adventures (like trying to sell goddamn t-shirts)!