Positive Writer

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3 Myths That Hold Your Best Writing Back

The odds are if you write in public you want people to read your work. Seems like a reasonable assumption. I mean, if we don’t care if anyone’s reading our work, then we should stick to personal journals that we keep hidden under our pillows.

You can hide your work if you want to, and if you hide your work you’ll never let yourself down. But if you’re interested in getting your work noticed don’t fall for the myths presented in this post.

People don't know what they want until you show it to them. ~Steven Jobs

Here’s the thing, a lot of us (and I mean A LOT) who start out blogging and publishing go through the phase of, ‘no one is paying attention to me.’

In other words, we’re writing our hearts out, giving everything we’ve got, and putting ourselves out there on the world’s grandest stage (the internet)… and no one seems to care.

Crickets.

I’ve been there and if I’m being honest, it sucks.

The Crossroads

Every writer eventually comes to a crossroads and when we reach it we have to make a decision. Nothing short of your writing future is at stake.

Either we decide to stop writing or we decide to press on and do whatever we need to improve, such as:

1: Take a blogging / writing course.

2: Hire a mentor / coach.

3: Follow and learn from the best blogs / writers in your niche. (This is the easiest, and everyone should be doing it.)

4: Hone your focus.

5: Whatever you do, don’t fall for the 3 most common myths. We’ll get to those in a moment.

Or, as most people do, we try to avoid the decision and do something in the middle, and it’s this middle that is the most dangerous, because it can be worse than merely quitting.

The middle is where people lower their expectations and their standards, and as a result their passion for writing begins to slowly die a torturous death.

The middle is where artists, like you and me, begin to tell ourselves it’s okay not to attract an audience and not be noticed, it’s okay that no one seems to care. And you know what? We don’t need them anyway.

After all, we need to be true to ourselves and if we’re not true to ourselves then we shouldn’t be doing this. Right?

But, unfortunately, the middle is not where people stay true to themselves.

It’s quite the opposite, in fact, and the longer one stays in the middle mindset (which is what it is, a mindset), the longer lower expectations and giving less than we’ve got to give takes root and becomes our new normal.

You don’t want to be in the middle.

Walk on road, hmmmmmm? Walk left side, safe. Walk right side, safe. Walk middle, sooner or later get squished just like grape.

—Mr. Miyagi, Karate Kid

You don’t ever want to tell yourself it’s okay that no one reads or cares about your work.

It’s not okay.

When you come to the crossroads it’s a call to arms, it means it’s time to up your game, become a better writer and earn the attention your work deserves.

We’re all better than we think we are and we all have much more to offer than we think we do. And just when you think it’s time to give up and go home, that my friends is when you’ve reached the crossroads.

Myth #1:

It’s okay to just write for myself. (But you write publicly on a blog and/or publish books.)

This is a simple, but not so effective myth too many writers believe in to make themselves feel better about not attracting an audience.

Reality: If you’re not attracting an audience then you need to do something, change something, learn something, or be more audacious or less audacious.

Whatever you do, don’t shrug your shoulders and say it’s okay. You don’t believe that and neither do I. Your writing deserves better.

Myth #2:

What works for others should work for me.

This one used to drive me nuts! It’s not true.

Reality: What works for others probably won’t work for you. At least, not the exact same way or with the exact same results.

That’s why…

You have to be uniquely you. (Tweet This)

As with myth #1 you must find that something that works for you. It can be a variation of things others are doing online, but you absolutely must make what you do your own.

How many singing competitions have you watched on TV and heard the judges tell contestants that the cover they did sounded copycatish? And then the judges follow up telling the artists to own the songs and make them their own.

It’s the same concept for writers. Whatever you write about, whether it’s for your blog or your next book, make it your own, make it uniquely yours and own it.

And that’s how you find your voice. You’ll never find your voice by copying what works for others.

The real question is: What works for you?

Myth #3

Always give readers what they want.

Reality: Take risks and refuse to be predictable. Too many writers are playing it safe and they’re failing.

People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.

—Steve Jobs (Tweet This Quote)

Stop trying to give readers what you think they want and give them something they don’t know they want.

Say what needs to be said. Say what only you can say, the way only you would say it. Be authentic.

Stand out

Your readers don’t want to be pacified and the odds are, if you say what you believe, your readers will respect you for your honesty, even if some disagree with you.

And you might be surprised when readers comment, “It’s about time someone said it like it is!”

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.

—Henry Ford (Tweet This Quote)

And what if you do write something that doesn’t connect and your readers ignore it? Get back to work and keep improving. Your best work is ahead of you.

Keep at it. Don’t squander your gift.

But remember, say something that matters, not something so watered down that people will nod their heads and then forget about you. Say it with conviction. Be different and then get out of the way.

What can you write that differentiates you from everyone else?

The answer should be obvious. But it’s not, and I don’t know what the answer is for you. However, ask yourself, what do you want to say but you’d never dare say it for fear of embarrassment and /or shame, or it might make you look bad or cause people to disagree with you?

Think about it.

You’ve got what it takes.

A lot of the times the answer is simple and closer than we think. And sometimes the answer has less to do with what you say and more to do with how you say it.

- Earnest Vincent Wright wrote the novel, “Gabsby,” which contained over 50,000 words and none of them with the letter E! Do you know what the most used letter in the English alphabet is? It’s the letter E. (Source) -

Every other blogger and just about anyone with an opinion can, and probably will, tell you what you should or shouldn’t do to get your writing noticed. But guess what? None of that matters. It’s all about you.

Be revolutionary. Be you.

And, let me be honest, by no means is writing in public easy. It’s not.

Anyone can start a blog and publish a book, and many thought that’s all they needed to do to get noticed and attract an audience.

Now you know it’s not that easy.

What are you going to do?

When was the last time you took a serious risk with your writing? Share it with us in the comments. (Tell us or share a link, or both.)

About Bryan Hutchinson

I'm a positive writer and when that doesn't work, I eat chocolate. I help fellow writers overcome doubt and thrive! In my free time, I love visiting castles with my wife, Joan. Join me on Twitter and Facebook.

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Writer's Doubt the Book
  • http://writeitanyway.com Sarah Lentz

    I needed to read this today. Thanks, Bryan! :)

    • http://www.positivewriter.com/ Bryan Hutchinson

      Thanks, Sarah!

  • http://www.Marketing4Traffic.com/ Devani Anjali Alderson

    #3 is a big one. So many “experts” out there advise people to “just write what people want to read.” … That’s like asking for advice and telling someone what they “want” to hear, even if it’s not what they NEED to hear.

    As to point #1 I write for myself in the sense that the topic is something I enjoy reading about and have thoughts on .. BUT the distinction is that I want an audience, so I write it in a way that others will understand. Because no way am I about to start writing something I have no interest in, just to gain an audience. I’ll leave quantum physics to some genius scientist who know what he’s talking about ;-)

    Great post, Bryan!

    • http://www.positivewriter.com/ Bryan Hutchinson

      Ha, Devani, good point about point #1. It’s not intended to mean you shouldn’t write about what you love or what you want to write about, it means you should not be satisfied with writing just for yourself, because why would you write in public then? In other words, if you’re not attracting readers then it’s time to do something about it and not simply settle for the “I just write for myself” mantra that too many people succumb to before they give up writing in public all together. – I probably could have been a little clearer there. :)

      • http://www.Marketing4Traffic.com/ Devani Anjali Alderson

        Agreed! It’s so interesting the excuses people–including myself–use to justify why something doesn’t work. “Oh I just want to write for me.” or “But I only do that art for my family & friends to enjoy.”

        Trading hours for dollars!

        • http://www.positivewriter.com/ Bryan Hutchinson

          I think we all do it without realizing it. We settle.

          We can’t settle! Never settle! Fight the good fight.

  • Summer Hill

    What do I want to say but have not dared say it? Whoa! Hold me back. Realistically I want to write about a topic that I have come to have a passion for and hold many views on but I’m not an expert and always doubt that I know enough about it. What happens if I change my opinion? What if I lead someone in the wrong direction? What if people throw rotten tomatoes at me?

    Thank you for this article. I love that it has given me courage to write about what I have a passion for even if people disagree with me. After all, I don’t love everything I read but that doesn’t mean the next guy reading it isn’t going to.

    • http://www.positivewriter.com/ Bryan Hutchinson

      Ha! I’m not going to hold you back. Go for it! :)

      • Summer Hill

        I took your advice and wrote a short paragraph on a difficult topic I feel strongly about. Now I’m Fighting the urge to take it down for fear that I have not effectively relayed my opinion. Tomatoes are flying!

        • http://www.positivewriter.com/ Bryan Hutchinson

          Can you share a link to it?

          The imaginary Tomatoes are the worst!

          • Summer Hill

            It’s posted on my Facebook page. My poor blog is unfocused and crickets abound there. It’s relative to a current event locally and it seems to have struck at least a couple people the wrong way. I’ll copy it below.

          • Summer Hill

            In light of the recent UNM “rape” fiasco I have this thought. Reasonable expectation. It is what we try to teach children from the time they are toddlers. Example: If you tease a dog you’re likely to get bit or if you play with fire, eventually, you will get burned. Why then, as adults, do women continually, cry foul when they dress provocatively, get wasted and surround themselves with people who are likely to take advantage of such an opportunity in environments that foster devious behavior? We, men and women, have a responsibility to consider our personal safety. It is why we are made to sign waivers when we jump from airplanes. Each time someone claims they’ve been attacked when really they are guilty of atrocious judgment and subsequent remorse they plant a seed of doubt and make it even more difficult for women to come forward who have been truly violated. Resonable expectation and responsibility for self. Not easy subjects but I think worthy lessons to continually stress to our children.

          • http://www.positivewriter.com/ Bryan Hutchinson

            Hi Summer, I can see why this is controversial, not everyone wants to take responsibility for their own well being. I think you hit a nerve. And maybe it’s a nerve that needed to be hit.

  • themagicviolinist

    I tend to hold myself back (especially with blogging) because I’m worried I’ll say something that will offend others. I’m trying to be better about it, and I think I’m doing pretty well so far, but there’s always that little part of me that wonders, “Is this going to tick so-and-so off?”

    • http://www.positivewriter.com/ Bryan Hutchinson

      Yeah, I know how you feel. It’s tough because some of the simplest things can tick people off even when you’re trying not to be offensive. Honesty can be that way. I think if we’re respectful and lawful, but still honest, it should be okay. Let’s hope.

  • http://www.janellekeith.com Janelle Keith

    WOW! Again hitting the proverbial writers nail on this writers head, shall we say between the eye balls? I write to say “its about time one of you lugheads said it!” , says Annie in the legend Christmas movie – “It’s a wonderful life” I signed for Jeff Goins tribe writers course, very audacious, last month so now I get the chance to practice brave, and leverage doubt. (Still need to write that winning post!)

    • http://www.positivewriter.com/ Bryan Hutchinson

      lol You’ll write it, Janelle. And when you do, be sure to share it with us by coming back and pasting the link in the comments here.

  • Jennifer Brown Banks

    Powerful post, Bryan. Great take-away value here!

    • http://www.positivewriter.com/ Bryan Hutchinson

      Thanks, Jennifer! Take away as much as you want! :)

  • Elena

    Thanks for the post. I really liked it. My problem is, I have no idea what to write about, I feel like I am not passionate about anything and no expert on anything either. On the other hand, I believe there must be something… I am a person with strong ideas and ideals, and yet, I don’t know how to find out what is it I care most. I suppose I am pretty confused, or maybe I should go away to the mountains and get a rest from the computers. :)

    • http://www.positivewriter.com/ Bryan Hutchinson

      Elena, sometimes it is a good idea to just get away from writing for a little while to help clear your thinking. For now, consider writing 200 – 500 words a day for a couple weeks and then see what you write the most about, and go from there.

  • http://www.annepeterson.com/ Anne Peterson

    I’d have to say writing BROKEN, was a serious risk. It’s transparent, it’s vulnerable, and it’s me out there. Loved this post Bryan.

    • http://www.positivewriter.com/ Bryan Hutchinson

      BROKEN is a book that needed to be written, Anne! I’d certainly say the risk was great, but then your desire to help others was greater!

  • http://livinglifewrite.com/ Lauren Huss

    Thank you, Bryan! You nailed it! Exactly the myths that I have bought into at one time or another. Right along with the ever so popular, “it has all been said before”. You are right, “the middle” is not a good place to be! Quite like being luke-warm, I guess. Will be buying your latest book for more encouragement!

    • http://www.positivewriter.com/ Bryan Hutchinson

      I hope you enjoy it, Lauren. Be sure to let me know.

      It may have been said before, but not the way you say it! Keep writing!

  • http://www.naomitsvirko.com/blog Naomi Tsvirko

    Another great motivational post. Just what I needed to start my writing week!

  • http://www.reclaimingyourfuture.com Reclaiming Your Future

    I couldn’t agree with this post more Bryan! I’ve been writing about travel for the last few years but started to fall out of love with it because I was in the middle of the road! Now that I’ve started my new site, I feel so inspired about both my sites and know how to avoid the myths.
    With a little luck and lots of hard work, hopefully both of them will pay off for me :)
    Thanks for the inspiration!

    • http://www.positivewriter.com/ Bryan Hutchinson

      Sounds like you found what you are passionate about. Positive Writer is not my first blog, and, like you, it’s when I wrote about other things that I found myself connecting and readers responding positively.

  • La McCoy

    Great post!

  • http://www.janellekeith.com Janelle Keith

    Thank your for the drive, the motivation, the inspiration, the courage, the bravery written here in this place. Thank you for leading us along, as we find our writing niche, and helping us shape our word worlds. – signed a true word nerd.

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