Become a Tribe Writer — A Review of Jeff Goins’ 3 C’s Philosophy
Prominent author, blogger, and speaker, Jeff Goins, advises his literary tribe to avoid any systematic formulas when they want to manifest their ‘inner Hemingway.’
And yet, according to Goins, it’s equally important to refrain from copying another author’s writing style (yes, even Hemingway’s simple and direct prose), if it does not come naturally to you.
So, what does it take to become an effective writer? Let’s rephrase that question for today’s marketplace with the assumption that you want to make writing a full-time career.
What does it take to become a financially successful writer?
At the risk of violating the above-mentioned caution to refrain from following any formulaic, step-by-step approach, you just have to manifest Jeff Goins’ trumpeted 3 C’s.
As all great writers want to keep their audience in suspense, I won’t mention all the ‘C’s’ simultaneously. Instead, I’ll highlight them one at a time which is sure to galvanize continued interest, although I’m not listing them in any order of importance as all are equally significant.
1st C: Clarity — Too many of us have had teachers who knew the material but did not know how to adequately explain concepts.
As a gifted tribe writer, you have to assume the role of master teacher, conveying ideas in an easy-to-understand manner.
You also have to anticipate audience questions and needs, and suitably address them. You want to elicit ‘Aha moments,’ where tribe members gain insight and become inspired.
Simply, your goal is to demystify your topic and enlighten and entertain readers with crisp clarity,
Although it’s tempting, do not try to impress readers with grandiose verbiage, like I just did. Simple language will do, thank you very much, and you can showcase your expansive vocabulary in other venues, such as when taking standardized tests.
Write as if you’re talking, assuming you’re articulate (grin). A direct style that communicates with your audience in a way they understand will add a few stars when they review your work.
Maintain focus on the subject matter and do not go off on too many tangents. When you introduce tangential material, it can add to confusion and prevent you from getting to the proverbial ‘meat of the matter.’
Jeff Goins is in the camp of ‘writing less, not more.’ Brevity (e.g. cutting useless words) will add to your clarity.
Get rid of ‘big words,’ unnecessary ones (such as jargon), and words that have little to do with your subject, and your writing clarity is sure to improve.
Did I make that concept clear enough?
2nd C: Commitment — Writing should not necessarily come easy to you. After all, it entails complex thinking, dedication to detail, imaginatively telling a story or interweaving facts and opinions, a bold sense of originality, and simplicity, and clarity of expression.
Fulfilling all those components of writing takes sweat equity and effort, and becomes even more difficult when so many entertaining, less challenging diversions call to us.
But if you’re to keep your eyes on that financial prize, you must be dedicated to your writing craft, and singularly focused on the process and the output.
It’s important to first manifest passionate commitment to yourself. Find your innate love of writing (and love of what you’re writing) — at least before our teachers compromised writing passion with all their corrections in red pen.
Once you’re aptly motivated, and happy to express yourself in this realm, you must then demonstrate relentless commitment to your audience. You value their precious time so you recognize the responsibility in fulfilling their needs to know more about the topic you’re writing about.
Your words will inform and entertain, and as your words invite your readers closer to you and your niche, they’ll become more committed to learning from you.
Jeff Goins sees commitment as a three-level entity — applicable to life and to the microcosm of writing.
The first level is akin to adventure. You’re finding new tantalizing pursuits, discovering thrills and excitement as you experience them. In writing, you may be dabbling in many areas of interest, going from one to the next as your passion dictates.
The second level of commitment is analogous to a season. You’re not in constant motion, preferring to spend longer periods of quality time at a given locale or with a certain group of people. As it pertains to writing, this commitment may be reflected by zeroing in on a particularly desirable niche.
According to Jeff Goins, the third level of commitment pertains to ‘figurative marriage.’ This stage represents the highest level of dedication to someone, or even to an endeavor, with ‘no backup plan.’ You’re in for the ride, possessing the sentiment that all your concentration and focus will be allocated to this pursuit.
In writing, this idea can be demonstrated by building an all-encompassing blog around a passionate niche.
3rd C: Courage — It’s not easy, and sometimes it’s downright anxiety-provoking to share your work with the outside world.
Who wants to have work lambasted and criticized? Who wants to have text dissected and judged, only to be publicly declared an incompetent writer?
But alas, there will always be those critics who find fault with your work because that’s exactly what they’re looking to find. There are folks who like to elevate the quality of their writing, if not intelligence, by nitpicking others’ ostensible mistakes, or errors in judgment.
Admittedly, such criticism may be valid, and even presented to you by those who have no self-serving agenda. In fact, perhaps they may just want to help you strengthen your inherent writing talent.
So, what do you do when confronted with criticism, even sharply acrimonious opinions?
You keep writing!
There surely will be some tribe members who will value what you write, particularly when it comes from a passionate, authentic place.
You can’t be all things to all people and please everyone.
Your objective is to write for your tribe. What you write resonates with you, but simultaneously, you do your best to write what also strikes a responsive chord within them.
There will be some pieces that may go viral, others that are met with indifference, and still others that will be torn apart.
One way that you can remain on a steady keel is to detach yourself from your writing. Look from the perspective of an observer, and not the person who is receiving praise or condemnation.
See others’ reactions almost as a form of editing. After all, you edit your work, and you may decide to let go of sentences in favor of others. Other people have their opinions and judgments, and their sentiments may help to improve your writing skills.
You are not your writing. Your worth as a human being has nothing to do with its perceived quality.
Without compromising your writing style and voice, you’ll eventually see what pleases the clear majority of tribe members. You can then better monetize your craft.
Trust the process, trust yourself, and even trust others. You must have the courage to believe that all will work out, and that your writing can become a valued commodity.
But it can’t if you let fear overwhelm you, particularly during the dark days of writer’s block or even when unwelcome distractions raise their ugly head.
Bonus C: Confidence — How can you possibly be at the helm of a tribe of writers if you lack the confidence to write, and the self–assuredness to lead by example?
When you’re writing every day, and the prose flow, it appears that you’re generating ideas and expressing them effortlessly, and both parts of your logical and creative brain are working well in tandem.
During these prolific writing times, it’s easy to believe that you’re a born writer whose purpose is to pen provocative pieces. When you’re striking the keyword with unimpeded fluency, it’s easy to believe that you can write compelling content that will be consumed by the masses.
But during those periods of writer’s block, it’s then imperative to harness that unabashed sense of confidence. Perhaps thoughts and ideas are temporarily stalled, but you must embrace the notion that your brain dendrites will fire again, unleashing the dormant creativity.
When ingenuity and productivity seem beyond reach, look for short-lasting diversions. Take a walk, deep breathe, meditate, watch a funny program, play a video game — engage in any activity that provides enjoyment and escape.
But before you do, convince yourself that writing is a process of ebb and flow, and that all great authors experience moments of indecision and immobilization.
Be confident that the creative juices will stir within before you know it!
And to enhance that budding confidence, find passion in your subject. (If you don’t feel passionate about what you’re writing about, perhaps it’s time to choose a different subject, if you have such an option.)
As Jeff Goins reminds his readers in Tribe Writers, a tribe is a small community of folks bound by a common interest who passionately share insights about that interest.
If (in the colloquial speech of the younger generation), “You’re still not feeling it”, perform more research. There may exist aspects within a niche that you find more appealing than others.
And as you engage in more research and study, you empower yourself with facts, data, collective knowledge, and subjective insights — all which can mold your perspective on the niche, and help you develop expertise which is mandatory to become a tribal leader.
I’ve reviewed Goins Tribe Writers extensively, and he conveys a plethora of ideas to enhance writing skills in the quest to become a favorite marketplace author, or widely acclaimed blogger, or any type of successful freelancer.
But if you’re not a committed and confident writer who shows courage, and writes with clarity, you’ll face an uphill battle.
You’ll constantly lose your footing as you try to climb up the writing competence ladder, unable to progress to the top where financial abundance awaits.
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