You hate your job, and you’re not sure why you even got a job where you have to write. Everything you write tastes like cardboard, and there’s no end in sight. Your boss pushes SEO and gives you headlines you hate.
You just keep pushing those articles out, week after week, month after month, year after year.
Remember what it was like before your first job, in that last semester of college.
You were going to own the world.
You were going to make a difference.
You were going to have that unique voice that everyone loved and couldn’t get enough of.
You had that clarity and insight that went viral instantly, rocketing you to stardom as a genius and a leader among men, gathering you fame and fortune and the adoration of the masses.
I’ve only recently stumbled on to Medium, which is funny because I’ve been reading Medium articles for the last couple of years. Honestly, I thought it was a magazine because of the quality of content.
That’s the future of writing and your personal saving grace.
Forbes and Inc. is full of filler fluff that’s been written by a copywriter who’s just looking to get a blog post out for the week.
Your Facebook feed is full of articles just working to ride the controversy train.
Everything’s politicized for clicks.
The click-bait headlines, “…number 13 made me cry!”, that clutter my news feeds are slowly killing my soul.
Is this how it’s going to be forever? Is this what we’re resigned to?
No. I have hope for the future.
Two things are going to happen that is going to change content as we know it.
First, search engines are going to continue getting better at finding quality content. The writing that’s worthwhile will climb to the top.
Second, people are going to tire of the drivel, and they’re going to subconsciously learn to discern between click-bait, SEO-only content, and quality authoritative content.
So how do you prepare for this?
Create something beautiful, something useful, something helpful. Henry Ford didn’t get rich building cars that didn’t work, Steve Jobs didn’t find success by building copycat phones, and John Belushi didn’t become John Belushi by acting like other comedy actors.
Artisans are artisans for three reasons:
- They care about the quality of their work.
- They create something unique.
- They work hard.
So become an artisan. When you write, create something unique and care about what you’re sending out into the world. Is it just more noise? Is it helpful? Is it useful?
The answers to those questions will determine your worth as a writer.
Become an artisan. Write so well, people are dying to read the next thing you put out. That’s how you get followers that care, that’s how you build an audience.
Become an artisan.
Care about the quality of your work. Become good at your craft, because don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, writing well is a craft. You need the right tools (grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, etc.) to create something beautiful. The sharper your tools are, the better your product will be.
One of the best ways to learn your craft and sharpen your tools is to read master writers. Find writers that speak to you, and just read them. Your magical brain will take techniques from them and apply it to your writing automatically.
Read, and read a lot.
I personally recommend two books to anyone getting into writing. On Writing Well by William Zissner is an absolute classic. Just by reading this book, you will be a better writer. Actively apply what he’s saying and you’re writing will improve a hundred fold.
Want a toolbox to haul along with you? Read Writing Tools by Roy Peter Clark. He gives you 50 strategies that will bring your writing to the level it needs to be at. It’s a fun read, and it really feels like a deck of cards you can pull from at any time to improve your writing skills.
While you’re learning your tools, get feedback from other writers you trust and respect. While their opinions should not be treated as law, it should be treated as something worth listening to.
The writer who crafts a thought first, and does it well, will win in the end.
Instead of writing another 500-word list article, what would happen if it was 2000 words? Could you work in something universal about the human condition into your ‘Five Ways To Save Your Small Business Money’ post? Can you write poetically while also writing technically?
How much can you make people feel while you’re trying to help people understand?
If your career choice is a writer of some sort, you didn’t get into this to write words for a search engine. You became a writer so you could speak to someone else’s soul.
What’s stopping you?
Write well, write something unique, and speak to people’s souls, and the world will be yours.
Writing is hard work, don’t believe anyone that tells you otherwise.
But here’s the secret. Hard work brings joy.
Every person has that inherent mechanism inside themselves that tells them if they’re cutting corners. Instead of just hitting publish to see what happens after the 2nd draft, try a 3rd draft. Try a 4th, a 5th or a 6th.
Ask yourself what your audience could use, what would help them, what would improve their lives? Then give it to them.
When you love it, publish it.
Your audience is going to respond.
And you’re going to love writing again.
In a world of auto-generated content, rehashings of the same story and remixes, quality original content is going to stand out.
There will be writers who have droves of people following them, and their quality of work will bring them the money they need. And they will be happy in their work.
It’s up to you to decide if you want to be part of the crowd or stand out.
It’s up to you to decide if you want to be happy in your work.