A guest article by Mark Swedberg. You too can be part of this great knowledge sharing community. Take a look at our guest blogging guidelines.
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at the typewriter and bleed.”
~ Ernest Hemingway
A lot of blogging advice focuses on marketing techniques and writing tricks. It’s easy to change your font style and start your headers with an action verb, but do those things really matter? Is it more effective to mimic somebody else’s style, or to be yourself? Too often in life we suppress our real desires, all for the sake of some vague dream of success that waves to us from a dimly gleaming future.
I’ve been in the online writing business for almost four years. When I first started blogging, I constantly molded my content to appeal to my target audience. I felt like I could analyze a market demographic and turn myself into a little writing machine to take advantage of their interests. At one point I had ten writers working for me. But all of that was unfulfilling, just a way to sell out in a digital world. It may have been more convenient, but it still sucked.
You know what the problem was? I simply wasn’t interested in suppressing my own desires and identity in the name of “success.” All of the market analysis is meaningless if you are trying to mold yourself to someone else’s expectations. You’ll come across phony, because that’s what you’re being. It’s impossible to hide. The truth has a way of sneaking out.
So why put the truth of today off for some more convenient tomorrow? Don’t hide behind somebody else’s proven techniques. That kind of thing might increase your traffic, but will it connect you to your ideal audience? More importantly, will it make you happy? If your so-called “success” doesn’t satisfy you, then what’s the point?
I’m not saying educating yourself about effective blogging techniques is a bad idea. But it often overwhelms your unique voice, which is the entire point of blogging. I know it’s scary to reveal yourself to the world. What if they reject you? However, until you do, you will never gain a loyal audience or be engaged in meaningful work. Don’t you think it’s time to stop researching techniques and start expressing yourself.
The Art of Honesty
Let’s face it, as an author your mission is to cut through all the generic bullshit floating around the interwebs. You’re an evangelist, an angel, destined to bring the light of authenticity and truth to the world. How ya gonna do that if you’re too afraid of what someone else might think of your article?
Sure, there are proven techniques for sharing your thoughts, and it’s generally a good idea to follow those guidelines whenever possible. But sometimes standard procedure gets trumped by the purity of inspiration. As a writer, hell, as a person, you should focus less on following rules and more on being yourself.
After all, isn’t that what life’s about? Being honest, living purely, expressing yourself and letting people love or reject you for who you are, not who you’re pretending to be. This is the art of writing, and it deserves cultivation.
But wait, you say. Hold on just one moment. Isn’t such a bold and reckless approach doomed to failure?
To have spoken, and spoken honestly. That is never failure. It is an achievement worthy of its own place in a soon-to-be-deleted bookmark folder. Better yet, it’s something remarkable that you just don’t see everyday. And people respect the kind of guy who is willing to say what he thinks and eat the consequences, regardless of what they may be.
As a writer, your job is not to hold back. You can’t hedge your bets and hope that someday the perfect opportunity will arise, and on that fateful day you will ride your unicorn into battle and vanquish the hordes of doubters and naysayers. Soldiers don’t learn to fight in the barracks, and writers don’t get published by hiding behind procedure and rules.
Be bold. Climb that mountain, step by weary step. You are not a corporation to focus on global domination at the expense of a shattered soul. You are a writer, an artist, a master craftsman. And your job, your sole focus in life, is to live well. Only then can you share that life through your work, because it will be a life worth sharing.
Masterpieces don’t exist. Fame and success are illusions. Life is right here, right now, this present moment. Are you using it wisely?
Remember this: writing is about sharing your heart, not about being heard. Don’t lose focus of the real goal. Worldly success and the praise of others are small things compared to the confidence that comes from being yourself. So write that article, even if it is doomed to failure, then take pride in a job well done. You aren’t begging for approval, you’re speaking your mind, and that’s what readers really want.
This is about discipline, about values, about cultivating a fearless and indomitable soul. Rejection is not defeat. Being ignored is not being overcome. These are merely opportunities to grow stronger. I refuse to let another person control my satisfaction in life, and so I write the best goddamn articles you’ll ever read and I email them to whoever the hell I please. And so should you!
You can resort to gimmicks and marketing tricks, you can dupe people or prey on their psychological quirks, but it won’t get you far. Character has a way of shining through, and readers are more perceptive than you might think. Nothing compares to honest expression.
It’s time to throw away the rulebook. Tear down the walls of your heart. It’s time to live deeply, speak freely, and be loved for who you are. This is the art of writing, and you can do it today. Good luck, and tell the truth!