5 Reasons You Should Write
How to defy the odds and achieve success in the digital age
Thank goodness for the digital overthrow of a once archaic industry. The internet and social media disrupted the publishing world. And in doing so, busted down the gates for many promising writers.
Today there is substantially more hope your words will find their people.
It wasn’t always this way.
The publishing industry has traditionally been a very elusive and exclusive world. A Manhattan fortress guarded primarily by Ivy League editors. A place where it was tough to get your work reviewed let alone in print.
Rejection is standard in this world. What you might call a ‘write’ of passage. But it was made worse by the literary snobbery. Only an elite few could enter.
But now passionate voices have a chance to be read by many rather than dismissed by one.
Creative storytellers have come into their own era. An empowered one. With past gatekeepers limiting so much talent, this is long overdue.
But it is still an industry that demands that odds be defied. Talented writers have to embrace more than the mechanics of the craft.
You must seize the ‘heart’ of writing. The emotion which drives you but can also limit you. It is this immense vulnerability which conceives the best writers but can often be accompanied by doubt.
But this hesitation can be crippling. It can make you procrastinate. It can make you compare yourself to others. It can keep you from succeeding.
You are a writer. The digital world has afforded you this luxury. You live in a time when your daily dream is fed as words continually scroll past hungry readers.
You can succeed. You can be heard.
Rejection is a stepping stone
I once swore off writing for at least six months. Truth be told, I did this a few times. If I couldn’t succeed, I would at least shield my eyes from the harshness of the industry.
Another, “I’m sorry this isn’t quite right for our list,” or “Maybe you will have better luck finding a home for this elsewhere” kinda letter. Kinda rejection.
Every time I read those words I ingested them.
They led to the common writer's anxiety. Maybe I’m not good enough. Maybe I’ll never get published. Maybe I won’t be the one to defy the odds.
But thankfully, most writers have a defining moment.
Mine came in the form of a Sharon Stone article. The interviewer asked the actress why she never gave up the pursuit of her goal. After all, acting is notoriously filled with dismissals.
“I was smart enough to realize rejection is only one person's opinion,” said Stone.
I closed that magazine and I never cried again. I never defined myself by rejection. It was no longer personal. It was the trademark of earning the privilege to be read.
Every writer who refuses to forget their story deserves to succeed.
You have to take the emotion out of the editorial ‘vetos.’ Instead, invest the emotion strictly in your words. Rejection is only one person’s opinion. It is a stepping ‘stone’ (sorry I can’t help myself) in the business of writing.
Writing is subjective
Sharon Stone actually conveyed two truths. One, rejection isn’t personal it’s simply a process. And two, acting (much like writing) is subjective.
A person who loves to watch comedies might hate thrillers. A director may prefer an A-Lister over an unknown actor. Similarly, an editor who loves humor may hate an emotional essay. A publisher may delight in discovering new authors or prefer established ones.
It doesn’t necessarily mean the acting or writing isn’t good. It simply means it isn’t the right fit.
Your words are not going to resonate with every single reader, editor, or agent.
Keep submitting and keep writing. It’s a numbers game. Medium is an excellent opportunity and their guidelines are on the website. Take advantage of it. There is nothing like it in the publishing industry.
For overall submissions — online publications, traditional print publications, or traditional book publishing, you need to educate yourself in two areas.
What outlet best suits my writing? And what are their submission guidelines?
You can do this research online or with the help of books (Writer’s Market) or magazines (Writer’s Digest) or see if there is a writer’s center in your area. You can also find a writing consultant or coach. There are many resources to help guide writers in the submission process.
When I used to attend literary conferences the editors wouldn’t stop talking about ‘voice.’
“We’re looking for someone with a strong voice.”
“We want an authentic voice.”
“If you don’t have a voice you need to find yours.”
I listened intently and scribbled notes. Never daring to ask if someone could explain this confusing concept.
When I finally did work up the nerve, the explanations were equally confusing.
So I will explain it this way.
If you asked twenty artists to paint the same field of flowers, chances are they would look identical. You probably wouldn’t remember the beauty nor the artist.
Why? Because nothing stood out, they were merely copies.
Hence, why editors say it’s not enough to have talent.
You have to have a voice. Something about your work has to be memorable. It has to stand out. People don’t connect just to beauty. We see beautiful things every day. We connect to beauty when it speaks to us.
Now envision those same artists.
Nineteen of them duplicate the same field of flowers. But the twentieth artist distorts and enlarges the blooms to the point where they take center stage. This artist adds their own unique world view. They are communicating in an original style.
That’s voice. It’s recognizable.
It’s reading something and knowing the author before you’ve seen their name. Or walking by a painting and knowing which artist drew it.
How do you develop your voice?
A talented artist will have no problem mastering the field of flowers. But the artist who draws constantly will eventually stumble upon something far greater.
You have to write and rewrite and keep writing. Voice evolves. The more you craft the stronger it becomes. The gift develops into a recognizable style.
Your story is unique
I’ve known many writers who feel intimidated by the writing of others. It’s easy to feel as if your story has already been told.
But I promise you, if you have the indescribable urge to communicate, you have a unique story to tell.
As a freelance journalist and business columnist, I told the stories of others. I was good at it because the marketer in me could find their identifying strengths. What made someone a great college president, national correspondent, business owner, etc.
I could find their distinctive value.
When I shifted to writing my relationship column I found it challenging.
It was easy as a marketer to find the differentiating ‘shelf value’ in others. But entirely different when I was forced to do it for myself.
There are a ton of relationship writers and relationship books. But I found my lane and value. I view relationships through the lens of a marketer.
Write a list of your strengths and expertise and examine them in relation to the stories you want to tell. Where your life experiences meet what you want to communicate. If you struggle with this, find a good writer’s group, class, or coach to help you identify it.
You have the opportunity
The digital world has delivered your voice. People will actually read what you write.
Let this opportunity sink in.
Because some people were writing when Manhattan was still a fortress. I won’t mention any names. I don’t want to appear archaic. But suffice it to say, no one was reading a writer’s words back then.
Sans the family and friends who surrendered to a few lines.
Yet somehow this was enough to keep going until you finally became one of the less than five percent of the ‘elusive and exclusive.’
Writing has historically been considered a passion for many and a profession for few.
The chances of success have drastically increased. Thanks to what I refer to as, “one woman, a cup of coffee, and a computer,” or “one man, a cup of coffee, and a computer.”
So grab yours. You’re a writer.