Why Writing About Writing Won’t Help Your Writing In the Long Term
David Bowie once told us to “let all the children boogie”. And since I haven’t got rid of my inner child yet, well… here’s me still on the dance floor, throwing shapes left right and centre.
Because that’s what writing should be. A very personal way of leaving a part of us behind in this world. Similar to how a fox’s footprints on the snow tell us the morning after of the animal’s presence in our garden the night before. We might not even notice the snow, were it not for our vulpine friend’s nocturnal visit.
This is one of the reasons why I limit my “writing about writing” output to a few posts every now and then. Whilst I think that discussing the finer points of our craft with like-minded authors on this and other platforms has its merits, I also feel that there’s more to this art that I need to explore.
Ground Control to Major Tom
As someone who’s always out and about on Medium, reading as many pieces as my working day allows me to and leaving feedback as much as I can, I feel lucky to be exposed to so much good writing here. At the same time, this also means that I am exposed to a lot of “writing about writing”.
My issue with this particular type of writing is that at some point I want to see more from the author. Past a certain post, I’m no longer interested in what actions they took to make x amount of money in x amount of days. Or, how they found the missing piece to mint it online (and their advice on it). You know, now that you’ve taken your protein pills and put your helmet on, Major Tom, isn’t it time for lift-off?
Lift-off in this context means, delving into a different subject and showing us the results. Branching out and demonstrating breadth and depth, even in subjects the writer is not an expert in, but they are enthusiastic about.
For instance, tell us about your regular trip to the supermarket. Mundane, though it might seem, this is the sort of individual experience that renders someone’s writing universal. What colour were the leaves on your way to the shops? What sounds did you hear on the road? What was the atmosphere like that day?
Let’s Dance/Put On Your Red Shoes and Dance the Blues
This is the sort of writing that reminds me of Kettle Chips. If you’re familiar with this brand of crisps, you’re aware of their capricious shapes and how sometimes you’re bound to find two or three Kettle Chips stuck together creating a megacrisp. Other times, you come across individual ones as large as your middle finger. This is the reason why I’ve been a fan of this hand-cooked potato crisps for years. It’s not just their yumminess, but also their unpredictability.
At the other end of the spectrum you have Pringles. Enough said. Pringles resemble raindrops, hard to tell them apart.
As a reader, I seek out Kettle Chips material. Tasty, unpredictable and original. As a writer, I try my best to emulate the same material. This boils down to writing the sort of article I like to read. Writing about writing might bump up your readership, stats and earnings, but the downside is that you’re likely to miss out on dancing “to the song they’re playin’ on the radio”. You’re so busy building an audience that life’s passing you by and you don’t even notice.
Remember, at least in countries with a cold climate like the UK, we have a snow-filled winter every year (let’s not get into a discussion on London and its non-existent relationship to the white stuff, shall we?). It’s up to you to do like the fox and leave footprints on that snow. Otherwise, how will we know that you visited our garden the night before?
How to Write Your First Four-figure Article
Three tips for new writers on Medium on how to mint it
How to Stick It Out as a Writer on Medium in the Long-Term
Clue: the solution is neither frequency nor click-bait posts