I read a wonderful book for writers and creatives by Patrick Rhone, Some Thoughts About Writing. I highly recommend it. It’s a concise read but full of gold. I have come back to it several times, highlighting passages that resonate.
One of Patrick’s observations, from his years of writing, is for us to write for the internet we wish to read. I found this to be a simple, yet profound perspective.
Too simple you protest. Too obvious.
If that’s the case, why do more of us not do it?
Various Degrees of Beige — The Problems
The web is full of carbon copy posts and articles. Liberal lifting, and even outright stealing, of other people’s work is commonplace in this copy and paste, Wild West, culture.
Where’s the originality?
Even well-meaning creatives can fall into the trap of sameness. As writers, we read advice for writers and bloggers that tells us all to do the same thing as everyone else to achieve success.
We have to have 27 social media accounts and be active on all of them.
We have to write so many words (or pages) every day.
We have to have gamey, showbiz titles for our articles and books that promise the world and grab attention. ‘Secrets’, ‘Hacks’, ‘Shortcuts’ are common choices for those titles.
We have to write in lists.
We have to have Getty quality images for our blog posts and websites.
We have to build an email list and it has to have over a million subscribers, otherwise we’re a complete failure.
We have to have comments switched on.
Quantity of readers is more important than quality.
We have to stay on topic in our niche.
And so on.
“The ability to self-publish means writers have more power than ever to share our most authentic work”.
Of course, none of this is actually true. That doesn’t stop us thinking it is. If we read it enough, it must be true, no?
What happens as a direct result, a whole lot of vanilla writing. Writing readers feel they have already read. Writing that is not reflective of who we are as writers. People stop caring about our work and stop reading. Worse, we stop caring about our work and lose our love for the writing process.
The Power to Publish
What if we took Patrick’s advice to heart and played our part in creating something for the web we wanted to read? Crafted the article we want to write because it needs to be written, not because we think it will spike our blog traffic or increase our Twitter ‘followers’. Write the book we have searched for but cannot find. Uncover the work that is inside us and needs to come out. What if we shared that with the world?
The ability to self-publish means writers have more power than ever to share our most authentic work. So many writers before us never had this privilege. With no way of achieving a direct route to readers, they often had their work diluted and, in the worst cases, totally derailed.
The simple truth, we have a lot less friction to deal with than creatives from the past.
Why then, do we choose to give this privilege away so freely?
“If we focus on creating the stories and messages we wish to find, we’ll offer up our best work”.
We can leverage the power to publish and harness it, so we:
Write from the heart.
Release our messages in their truest states, straight from the source.
Are inspired by others, without resorting to copying them.
Ensure our message does not become diluted by playing to the crowd.
Are proud of the work we create.
Commit to the journey of becoming the best we can become.
If we focus on creating the stories and messages we wish to find, we’ll offer up our best work. Who knows, maybe others will come along for the ride. Perhaps lots of others. We’ll keep showing up anyway, committed to sharing our best work and determined that what we write today is better than what we shared yesterday.
Write for the web you wish to read. It’s that simple.