I was lurking on a Twitter chat once that was discussing the kinds of content you should be writing. There were the usual suggestions, like “just be authentic” and “listen to what your audience wants.” Okay, well what does that mean? I needed something more specific. One reply stood out to me and I’ve never forgotten it (although I did forget the user’s handle). She said:
“I don’t want to read about what you think I want to read. I want to know what keeps you up at night.”
For Lent a few years ago, I gave up taking my electronics (iPhone/iPad/laptop) to bed because Ariana Huffington was preaching to all the talk shows about the value of adequate rest. Plus, I was feeling super tired every morning and thought this would be an easy remedy.
It was far from easy, at least in the beginning. I very quickly discovered the root of my addiction: I would rather mindlessly stare at a screen until the phone fell on my face than be stuck with my own neuroses fostered by the silence of bedtime. Just one more game of Candy Crush would distract me from thinking about all of the times I’ve embarrassed myself since middle school.
It was a good break that allowed me to focus more on reading and meditation, but after the 40 days, I slowly returned to my old habits. However, rather than risking one more accidental drop to the face, the only way I found to wrangle some of these toxic reflections was to write them down so they were out of my head and on a piece of paper.
I still take my laptop to bed with me when I feel like watching YouTube or Netflix (because that’s what people do in 2017), but at least I know the quickest way to inspiration when I’m feeling a little stuck. And when that well dries up for a little bit, maybe I’ll have to take hiking and nature more seriously.
The stories that keep us up at night are simultaneously unique and universal — which is why it’s the content that matters.