Iâ€™ve been trudging along in the Great Writers Series, doing better some days than others, really trying to stretch my legs as a writer and develop some better habits. The biggest habit of all that Iâ€™ve wanted to foster is writing every day. So far, so good on that one. I donâ€™t always write what I think I should that day, but at least Iâ€™m writing.
For Day 12â€™s habit, Jeff says we need to â€œquit screwing aroundâ€ and â€œprovoke , already.â€ He encourages participants to write something dangerous, to tell the brutal truth, to provoke people into thinking. He clarifies that we shouldnâ€™t be doing it â€œfor the sake of being contentious,â€ but rather â€œfor the sake of being honest.â€
Well, unlike yesterday, when I didnâ€™t think I could accomplish anything Jeff asked of me, todayâ€™s habit is one I feel well-versed in. Iâ€™m always honest in my writing. I say what Iâ€™m thinking and donâ€™t sugar coat things unless I really mean the sweet part. Yesterday, I used the term cathartic, because often thatâ€™s what writing is, particularly the nonfiction I write (i.e., the blog posts).Â One of the things Iâ€™ve always loved about writing is using it as an avenue to truth â€“ truth of what I think, how I feel â€“ about the world around me. Â And, no, itâ€™s not always earth-shattering or life-changing; often it has a lot to do either with my kids driving me bonkers or my lack of people skills. Or that I think the guy they picked to play Superman will suck. But itâ€™s what I think, take it or leave it.
And a lot of people leave it â€“ or never even attempt to take it. What the heck am I talking about here? Iâ€™m talking about readers. Iâ€™m talking about people who actually read my blog on a semi-regular basis. I know thereâ€™s not that many of them. Recently, a little peeved at my husband for having no clue what Iâ€™d written on my blog, I posted about â€œknowing my audienceâ€ and that he wasnâ€™t it. I write on here to write. Itâ€™s pretty much for me. Anybody else is bonus.
In a related post, Jeff expands on the â€œwrite something dangerousâ€ advice. He talks about how we take a risk with everything we create â€“ a risk that no one will care, that people will think itâ€™s terrible, or people just wonâ€™t even notice. Â He basically says ‘who cares’ if no one else reads what youâ€™ve written, as long as you have fun writing it. And then Jeff, who Iâ€™m guessing is an optimist, goes on to say:
[M]ore often than not, peopleÂ wonâ€™tÂ ignore you. They wonâ€™t loathe your writing; theyâ€™llÂ loveÂ it. Precisely becauseÂ youÂ do.
Well, maybe. I donâ€™t know. It still depends on whether people ever give your creation the time of day or not. I mean, I donâ€™t have hundreds of blog followers or subscribers or fans or whatever else you want to call them. Most of my posts donâ€™t even get comments. And Iâ€™m pretty sure the only person who reads every post is me.
So just loving what you do and telling the truth isnâ€™t the key to winning friends and influencing people. Thereâ€™s something else involved, something that I havenâ€™t quite figured out. I do write for myself but Iâ€™d be lying if I said I didnâ€™t want other people to read it.Â If I didnâ€™t want other people to read it, Iâ€™d keep it in a notebook tucked under my pillow; I wouldnâ€™t post it on the web and link to it everywhere under the sun. I’d like to think that people are interested in what I have to say, that maybe something I’ve said makes them think, or moves them to take some sort of action.
But I canâ€™t focus on how many readers I have or donâ€™t have, or whether people comment on what I write or not. Because if I do, I’ll just be disappointed all the time. And because Iâ€™m not here to win any popularity contests â€“ good thing, too, given the lack of people skills I mentioned. Iâ€™m just here to write. But all writers want to be read, right?
2 People reacted on this
Just checking in firstly to say that I read your post!
And secondly to say that I totally relate. You’re a writer, and writers want their work to be read. Why else do people write? Essentially writing is communication in printed form. I’ve never kept a diary, because what’s the point? You’re just talking to yourself then aren’t you?!
I think it is hard, I think Jeff has experienced great success based on the advice you’ve mentioned because he is focusing in on one niche topic and he’s doing brilliantly at it. But then I believe there’s also plenty of other writing gigs that he has outside of his blog and his books.
But, if you don’t have a niche topic that you’re writing about, or maybe you don’t want a niche topic – maybe you just want to write about what sparks your imagination at the time (which is totally fine btw)! I think then it gets hard, because you don’t get those repeat followers and those repeat commenters – the people who were interested in Monday’s post, might not be interested in Tuesday’s post.
I’m not sure what I’m getting at, and I certainly don’t have an answer – but don’t be discouraged! What works for Jeff doesn’t necessarily work for everyone. But the essence of his advice – being open, honest and authentic – rings true every time. And that, I think you’re pretty good at 🙂
And also, I guess it’s a case of where you measure your success. Just because you don’t have a million blog followers, it doesn’t mean that your fiction which you haven’t posted on your blog isn’t worth a read – maybe one day you’ll become a best selling author without the help of the blog! (I mean, that’s how people did it in the old days right?!)
[…] And didnâ€™t I just call myself selfish a few days ago? Dammit. Knew I should have read ahead. […]