So in the absence of writing, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and introspecting. If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I can go pretty deep sometimes…and I do mean that in the cleanest way possible. One of my focus points over the last few weeks has been my writing. And as I’ve been focusing on it, I’ve been doin’ a lot more reading. I’ve learned a lot about my strengths and weaknesses along the way. I was tellin’ Miss Jenkins this the other day and she asked me what my strengths were. As I scratched my polished dome, the only things that came to mind were areas of improvement. So maybe I really learned a lot about my weaknesses and glossed over my strengths. Yeah, that sounds about right.
I have a weird complex. It’s probably not something I should share, but f*ck it. This is not to be confused with butt-f*cking. Anyways, I’ll occasionally read an article or post that’s well-written and well-received, then wonder if and why I couldn’t produce the same. It’s happened on SBM before. I’ll see a dope post during the week, look at what I’ve written, scrap it, then start over. I’m competitive. I like to be the best at everything I attempt. It’s partially why I hate things like bowling and volleyball. But as I’ve learned over the years and more so over the last 3-4 months, that’s completely unrealistic. I’ve also learned a few other things that I wanted to share from my experience as a writer.
You Can’t Always Be the Best, but You Can Always Be Better.
I sorta learned this lesson in college from track. No matter how many hours I spent in the weight room or in the sand after everybody left, I’d never be the best long jumper on my team, in the conference, or even in my region. I could set new personal records regularly, but they still wouldn’t be stadium, facility, or team records. There were times I won meets and was still unsatisfied with my performance despite the “good jump!” and “way to go Slim!” comments that came from coaches, teammates, and friends. I was always focused on the next level. The same can be said for writing. People can tell me “good post” on gchat or Twitter, but when I look at the traffic or social media shares and see that the post laid an egg according to my standards, I feel some type of way. This has been one of the harder things to accept and is still a work in progress. Hence the whole being better thing. This leads to another point.
Because People Aren’t Responsive Doesn’t Mean They’re Not Reading.
I see a lot of people shut down their blogs because they see traffic, but they don’t see any comments. They write thought-provoking posts day after day and ask questions, but nobody responds. They get frustrated and shut down the show despite the fact they may have dedicated readers that enjoy lurking or reading from their RSS rather than engaging.
Just because people aren’t responding doesn’t mean your words aren’t having an impact. You’re probably makin’ someone’s day better or helping them through a situation and you don’t even know it.
And lastly, hella comments doesn’t mean quality content. I could write a post called “I Like White Girls” with “They make me feel good” as the body of the post and I’d probably see more comments about self-hate than I’ve seen on any other post here. That doesn’t make it quality and doesn’t mean I’ve succeeded unless my goal is to elicit a dramatic response. Keep writing for you. I’m gonna contradict myself in a bit.
If You Don’t Read, You’ve Already Limited Yourself as a Writer.
A lot of people ask me about my favorite books and recommendations. The truth is I don’t read that much. It’s one of my biggest weaknesses and something I’ve been concentrating on improving. I’ve come to the realization that I won’t be able to grow as a writer if I don’t start reading more books, sites, etc. The interestin’ thing about reading more is that I’ve learned what type of stuff I gravitate toward. And it’s been that realization that has further pushed me in the direction of the new project I’ve mentioned. The other great thing about reading regularly is that it provokes stylistic and content ideas. If you’re a writer and find yourself reading a ton of sites when you have nothing to scribe about, then you know what I mean. Proactiv
e is better than reactive unless we’re talking about acne medication.
You Shouldn’t Say I When Talking to the Us.
I’ve learned this one from writing for a couple group blogs with strong followings. I can get away with it here because well…this is my shit. By when I’m on stage with the rock band, it’s done me more harm than good. Let me elaborate.
Once you get to a point you’re writing for a larger audience, stuff just changes. Somewhere along the way it goes from the focus being on you to the focus being on what you can do for readers to keep them coming back. And as much as people hate generalizations, they love generalizations. They get conversations going. If you look at the megablogs (I know this is relative), you’ll notice that you don’t see too much “I think” and “For me, this means…” in the posts. The writers are assertive and speak as if their words are gospel.
So yeah, people care about you of course, but the scale tips at some point and it really becomes about them. They want you to entertain them or make them angry. They want something they can react to and it’s difficult to cause that when you make yourself the subject of everything. There are exceptions, but I don’t really feel like listing them here. Oh yeah, try posting on a regular schedule, build up an audience, then not post something on a regular day. Bet you get an email, tweet, or FB message from someone asking where the post is.
This Post Needs to Be 2 Parts
I’ve written 1,000 words and broken one of my own rules. I have a few other points to mention and will share them in a separate post. Hope this was helpful. Let me know in the comments.
P.S. I keep such an irregular schedule here that it’s probably best to subscribe via email rather than check back daily and be disappointed when there’s nothing fresh. I write in spurts. Pause. So subscribing via email allows you to always catch it…like a condom. Sorry, I’m thoughtful and crass.