Why Writers Should Follow The Golden Rule
I believe in Karma. If the good is sown, the good is collected. When positive things are made, that returns well.
Are you an active writer on Medium or elsewhere?
If so, when did you last check your stats for votes, reads, comments or earnings? I guess that was today, maybe more than once already because we all like to see how we’re doing by whatever metric we prefer.
I have another question. Have you read anything lately? Did you clap, vote, comment, review, or buy?
And if not, why not?
You’re expecting to get something you didn’t give. Karma says what goes around, comes around. Karma says you get what you give.
The Silent Majority
Most people consume without creating, and they consume without responding. Around 5–10% of buyers leave reviews on Amazon overall. Even the most popular articles on Medium or Quora have a tiny percentage of comments compared to claps, and claps compared to reads.
Consider this article, which gained almost 21,000 claps in thirteen days but just 79 comments.
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Since each reader can give from zero to a maximum of fifty claps, we can infer that at least 420 people read this piece, but the true figure is likely to be many more.
As good as it feels to be read, it feels great to get applause. And comments? Well, a thoughtful comment is the sweetest nectar of all. It can give validation and the dopamine hit we all crave, but it can do something even more valuable. It can start a conversation. And conversations lead to relationships.
So if there are all these positive outcomes on offer, why don’t writers engage?
Paved With Good Intentions
Excuses are lies wrapped up in reasons.
There are reasons why you haven’t tended to your writer karma. Few of them stand up to closer scrutiny.
- I don’t have time to read.
Stephen King said if you don’t have time to read, then you don’t have time and the tools to write. A good writer, one who aspires to improve, must also read widely. It takes just a few minutes to read an article on Quora or Medium, or look at your favourite writer’s website. Step away from mindless scrolling and put that time to better use.
- I don’t have time to respond.
Really? It takes seconds to vote or clap. Even a brief message can make someone’s day. It would make yours, wouldn’t it?
- I can’t afford to buy a book.
Buying a book new at full price is the ideal, but maybe you don’t have resources. Buy secondhand, borrow from a library or a friend and review, tweet and Facebook post about it, tell your friends. You can download free books from Prolific Works and review.
Reviews on Amazon and Goodreads drive sales twice. First, because the algorithms favour books with more reviews. Second, because readers also favour books with reviews. In this era of almost endless choice, recommendations are even more important.
- Nobody’s reading my stuff so why should I bother?
See point 2 above. Feel good by doing good. Your following is built one reader at a time, one comment and relationship at a time. The best follower is one who is invested in your work, and the numbers are only one way of measuring impact. You never know who will be your new cheerleader.
Your tribe of like-minded readers and writers is out there, but it can’t find you if you’re hiding silently behind a screen. You’re a creator, not part of the herd of consumers. Act accordingly. Connect. Reciprocate.
Keep The Faith
There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.
You want to be a bright star, but it doesn’t happen overnight. Sometimes all you have is faith in yourself, faith that things will turn in your favour if you keep putting your work out there.
While you’re waiting, give what you want to see in the world. Acknowledge the impact someone’s words made on you. Be more than a silent consumer, because you’re part of the creative minority and you know how hard that road is, how lonely and unrewarding it can feel.
So don’t wait. You can improve someone’s day, right now, for free, and it only takes a minute.