Disclaimer: This is going to be a longer post that’s primarily a narrative. But I think it could probably help some of my readers who also are writers.
When I initially applied to be a part of the Examiner community, I really wasn’t expecting much to come of it. They go through a background check, personal information to verify you (meaning you can’t use an alias or false info), and a writing sample. I figured man they probably get tons of professional writers, I’m nothing special. However, I like to do what might seem impossible. When it came to the writing sample part, I struggled over what to submit. I had been doing short posts on my Tumblr page but none were fitting for the site’s expectations. I cleaned 1 up anyway, had a grammar-Nazi homey go over it, and clicked “submit”. It took nearly 4 weeks before I received a response that I’d been approved and was now able to set up my profile with a bio and photo. First thing that popped in my mind was “holy shit, what now?” At that point, I had never guest-posted anywhere. I was a reader of a few different blogs, but had never commented. I was used to technical writing, which is very rigid and straight to the point. I also felt apprehensive because I mean once you post an article, it’s there forever. I considered well what would happen if a future employer came across it and got the wrong impression of me? After about a week of wanting to rescind my acceptance, I said F it and started writing. Be careful what you ask for, right?
Fast forward to last year. Here’s the thing about our digital world; everybody with wifi is a blogger. But I think every successful blogger out here, regardless of their genre, started blogging from a personal point of view. They took a topic that they were passionate about it and found their voice. I didn’t want to do that. Yes, I do write about things very personal to me. But I also carefully choose my experiences that I feel like will resonate across gender and color lines. I’ve discussed suicide, dealing with grief, father/son relationships, mens’ health, branding/marketing, sports, and much more. When I created 30 and Beyond, I wanted to work on being a writer. I don’t knock anyone’s hustle, but it’s never been my desire to just be a blogger. While people define that title in a myriad of ways, I don’t put bloggers in the same vein as professional writers or journalists. I developed an aspiration that was much bigger than a wordpress layout.
As the year is coming to a close, I’m falling into the place of thinking about doing a vision board. Last year I did my first 1 and yeahhhhh. I actually accomplished more things not on the board than what was. I moved 3 three times, started a new job, got a new ICD, and acquired an amazing business deal that I’ll be able to talk about at the top of the year. But with all this happening, where did that leave my writing? Well posting schedules definitely slowed up. I got to the point where I didn’t want to force myself to write something for the sake of writing. My daily stats showed me that there were more than enough posts to keep viewers coming back. And then this happened
To be ranked on a nationally accredited site is 1 of those things that solidified my purpose. Out of 357 relationship writers, I’m ranked 95! I’m averaging 42 views per day. Now that may not seem like a large following. But to a guy who had no experience in writing for mass media, I’m on cloud 9. What’s even more awesome about writing in 2 different styles is that I’m constantly learning and perfecting my voice. I take pride in being able to have a fresh spin on a topic while still writing like “me”. And as a freelancer, I get a little spare change in my account every month. So there’s that.
Writing has been therapeutic and has spawned a path of self-discovery that I wasn’t aware of. I think when you’re writing a post, your goal is to convey a point in as little white space as you can. For example, for tech writers, they’re reviewing products. Readers want a simplified version of specs, pros/cons, and how the product rates against its competitors. Unless you’re a trusted gadget guru, they don’t really care about your personal opinion. But when you’re writing about a subjective (and maybe even sensitive) topic, people want to have facts and a narrative; even if that facts don’t align with your narrative. They want to feel something. Take my sports posts for example. I don’t write them with the purpose of making readers agree with me. I write them from the aspect of breaking down the statistics and telling a story. Well, aside from last year when I predicted the entire NFL postseason. Ahem.
I’d like to close this post with the cliche of whatever your dream is, go for it. But that would be stupid and false. Being a writer was never my dream. I’m not sure that it is now. What I will say is you have to be diligent in any and everything you do. Success starts with a thought and gains its momentum from commitment and repetition. When I would go a few days without posting something, I would notice on my own that I’d get lazy about little things. Hell, I have 4 posts right now that will probably go to the trash because I know I didn’t put my entire self into them. It’s a blessing and a curse to be your own worst critic.
The other thing is the writing community is vast. Most people will be exceptionally resourceful if you seek them out. Twitter has been a great avenue in finding other writers at different levels of their process. For my short story specifically, I had 3 people go over every new draft to make sure I was hitting the marks in terms of pacing, language, and dialogue. And it was 3 people whose writing I respected so I knew they’d be 100 with me. Lastly, the single most important lesson I’ve learned in figuring out my own place with writing is support other writers! I can’t state this enough. So many blogs don’t take off because the authors are selfish. They want you to read, comment, RT, and otherwise share. But when you write something, it’s Pacquaio quiet. Like with any other form of networking, you have to open up your mouth if you want to see some progress. Things aren’t going to happen if you stay attached to your insulated .com or .net