Writer, you face a challenge in this tech-savvy age. A writer seeks a unique reader, and it can feel like trekking to find Dr. Livingstone on the African continent.
Readers are inundated with messages 24-7-365. Inboxes flood with the messages they want and the junk they don’t. Hundreds of messages add up in little red circle alerts on phones everywhere.
An unknown writer is a sapling trying to grab a ray of light in the jungle. It sounds daunting or impossible.
Roughly 7 1/2 billion people call this blue marble home. If technology reached a fraction of them, there would be audiences for everyone. A handful of writers reach millions and tens of millions. Still, no one corners the market on global population. What if you believed there are enough readers for everyone? What if a community filled with encouragement helped others on their journey to the audience they’re looking for? What if we amplified others’ good words for the good of others?
A writer could do that, but it doesn’t feel natural. Language like competition, rat race, and dog-eat-dog colors our perspective. They say it’s a jungle out there. The truth is, you writerly neighbors two trees over in the jungle have messages that could reach readers near you. Writers sit in a jungle saturated with messages.
What will you do with this reality?
A few words of advice—
Remember my post about Connection with your reader? Here’s another facet: connect with writers, even those who write in your neck of the woods. Someone writes well in your genre? Read it. Has a similar message? Read it—knowing your message, voice, and style are different and matter. Share the good words with other writers if you dare.
Every writer must develop. A sapling in the forest may take longer to develop than the one dropped in a sunshiny meadow, granted. Be the diligent writer who grows where you’re planted.
Growth can mean many things. You might work to identify your audience and niche in the jungle. You might grow an e-mail list. You might even outgrow a generic site to your own dot com. Or try these:
- Leverage technology to learn your craft, increase confidence, and publicize work.
- Learn new writing techniques and genres. Stretch yourself.
- Learn conventions in order to produce clean content.
- Learn to become your own editing critic before sharing your work.
- Get into encouraging learning environments (conferences).
Don’t get so comfortable you forget to grow, and don’t forget to count the baby steps you take along the way.
Clear the way!
Writer, get out your machete. There’s work to be done, and you’ll have to clear your way.
- Cut extra words. It takes time to know good ones, but cut, cut, cut! Experienced writers write all the words and keep the good ones. Create a “Right Words, Wrong Timing” space to save the darlings you might need.
- Be precise and remove unrelated content. I wanted to highlight this point. The scope of a writing project is genre-driven and theme-related. Keep to a specific, centered argument.
- Be healthy! An author easily establishes and maintains an unhealthy link to the work. Friend, you are not your words, thoughts, or message. The ideas are separate and distinct from your person. Don’t get caught up in anxiety, shame, or distress. Be you—a writer—who has words, thoughts, and a message to be refined and shared.
If a tree falls in the jungle and no one hears it… Do you wonder if your efforts lead to a view on the screen? It’s natural. If a sapling had thinking, I imagine it would dream of peeking through the canopy and wonder if it could ever happen. That’s a writer’s life. The seed of a message is watered by thoughts of the need for it, desire to share it, and encouraging validation.
The writer begins the journey in obscurity. Once upon a time, even the best authors created “masterpieces” only a mother could love. But the household names we know did two things:
- They wrote often.
- They never gave up.
Writing in private offers the freedom to say everything. Going public invites the task of pointed criticism and sharper editing. If you are famous in the industry and your book title is in smaller font than your name, you have to live up to that. That writer sits in an InstantPot ™ but that’s another post.
Writing in a quiet corner with a few people who know your name and love you enough to speak truth and encourage you in your way, that’s a beautiful space. (There’s something satisfying about coming full circle.)
Hey Writer—connect, grow, clear the way, and—whatever you do—write!