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