“…shame is a psychologically toxic emotion…”

Writing a reflection is one form of writing that I struggle with. It is something I feel that I should understand how to do, but whenever I go to start, I find myself asking, “How do I even begin?” As I write this, I wonder if it will be any good, but I have to try. I have what I believe to be a fear of failure, not because failure makes me angry or upset, but because it makes me feel shame. Guy Winch (2015) says that shame is a psychologically toxic emotion, which can break through to the heart of who we are, affecting our emotional wellbeing and driving us to unconsciously engage in various forms of procrastination.

This is how I feel when I am facing down a subject outline, I will unconsciously throw myself under the bus by finding other things for myself to do, just to avoid the assignment. What this means for me is that I waste time which I could be spending on my assessments, which makes me panic, because I then have less time than I did before to complete something which shouldn’t take me the amount of time I end up spending on it. But I need to master this fear of failure, because it is holding me back from being proactive and from accomplishing what I need to do.

Throughout the BCM240 Media, Audience, and Place course, I have had a rough time because of the mounting pressures this term has presented. I think this has been my most difficult session at the University of Wollongong thus far. But this course has always been a port in a storm for me, as it was something I found enjoyable and something that I could be genuinely interested in. Since I began attending the University of Wollongong, the concept of blogging has always been just a little bit foreign to me, as it presented a challenge that I don’t think I will ever truly overcome.

This challenge is the management of time. Blogging, for me, represents an enormous waste of my time, not because I don’t enjoy it, but because it takes me so long to actually identify what it is I need to blog about. My style of writing too – the meandering and ordered type – contributes to my panic about blogs, as the subjects I undertake call for brevity, something I am not good at in the least.

This reflection is supposed to be all about my experience of writing in public, so perhaps I had better start talking about what I have done. In this subject, over the last 10 weeks or so, I have written a total of eight blogs, each looking into a topic that has a little something to do with media, audience, or place. While I believe that I am a strong writer, after doing some research into writing publically, I realise that I still have a ways to go.

Julie Neidlinger writes some terrific articles about public writing, and I have found two that I think offer some good advice. Neidlinger (2014a) devotes an entire article on How to Write for Your Intended Audience, looking at bloggers struggling to find ideas to write about, and how knowing your target audience can actually help you narrow down what it is you want to say. I often struggle to identify the audience I want to write for, which is a problem, because knowing your audience is a fundamental part of public writing, and knowing who you are writing for allows you to enhance the information that you are trying to communicate.

In another article, Neidlinger (2014b) also looks at lazy writing technique and how it may be putting your readers off. Some advice discussed in this article is quite good, which I think I should try to apply more often when I write. Here again, comes the message that brevity is key, it “forces us to distill a message, and reduce it to its core,” something I need to work on (Neidlinger 2014b). There is another piece of advice she offers that I do already use, but I will also advocate for it here because it is an extremely useful tool to have, and that tool is the human voice.

Reading your work aloud allows you to identify words and phrases you have overused, bad comma use and timing, and gaps in continuity. Along with being a helpful guide to sentence structure and finding overused text, it also helps to make your writing sound more human. I admit, as I write this reflection, I am reading every single word that I type to the back of the couch, and I think this helps me to write more efficiently because it aids me in thinking about what it is I want to say. When I write in silence, my mind often wonders elsewhere, and the beauty of reading aloud is that it allows me to focus in on the task at hand.

Moving on, the other component of this reflection is to look into how I attracted readers to my blog. To spread word about my blog, I would mark my blog posts each week with relevant and likely tags that people within the WordPress community would search for. I also broadcasted my blog posts on Twitter, providing a link to the post, including the #BCM240 hashtag, and sometimes including other hashtags to promote my blog in other aggregated streams.

Reading articles on how to promote your blog only really told me that I needed to become more involved in other social media platforms. However, an article by Neil Patel and Aaron Agius (c.2014) have given me a good tip on how to gather more readers, which is to seek out people who write similar content to my own, with a reasonably sized follower base, and throw them the link to my blog which they will hopefully share with their followers if they find it useful.

For this term, I have to say that the BCM240 course was interesting and that I enjoyed researching the topics presented. I also enjoyed conducting weekly tasks such as observing cinema goers and navigating the ethics involved in taking photos in public spaces. If I’ve learned anything from this course, it is that collaborative ethnographic research is a valuable asset, and that the meanings attributed to spaces are ingrained by societal values. The contents of this course have made me think about space in a new way which I am grateful for, because now the ordinary holds more meaning and it excites me to go into a space and have a different reaction to the space itself, and how objects in that space add further meaning to it.


Neidlinger, J 2014a, How to Write for Your Intended Audience, CoSchedule Blog, viewed 3 October 2015, http://coschedule.com/blog/intended-audience/

Neidlinger, J 2014b, These Lazy Writing Mistakes May be Turning Off Your Readers, CoSchedule Blog, viewed 3 October 2015, http://coschedule.com/blog/lazy-writing-technique/

Patel, N, Agius, A c.2014, The Complete Guide to Building Blog Audience: Chapter Five, Quick Sprout, viewed 3 October 2015, https://www.quicksprout.com/the-complete-guide-to-building-your-blog-audience-chapter-5/

Winch, G 2015, 10 Signs That You Might Have Fear of Failure, Psychology Today, viewed 3 October 2015, https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-squeaky-wheel/201306/10-signs-you-might-have-fear-failure

Image: Reflections in the Mist – John McSporran https://www.flickr.com/photos/127130111@N06/17165023407/


2 thoughts on ““…shame is a psychologically toxic emotion…”

  1. I’m reading this blog in a garden in California, on a trip that has already alerted me to the fragility of our media connections to other spaces. Travellers rely heavily on free public wifi, or wifi hospitality in other people’s homes. What does it mean to visit with someone and immediately ask if you can borrow their wifi? which essentially says: and sit in your garden with my laptop, rather than in your garden with you?

    But coming to this blog post (in this beautifully redesigned environment) has really given me so much to think about — about the writing we do in the BCM, but also my own experiences writing in public, and my own search for a voice.

    This is such a valuable contribution to how we think about public writing because it gets behind the idea of writing as the product, to writing as the (slow, cautious, often painful) process, thank you.

    1. Thank you so much for this beautiful comment. I wasn’t sure how this would be received and I am honestly lost for words by your encouraging voice.

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