Do You Think You’d Like To Write?
Tonight, I had the pleasure to watch an old friend perform in a theatrical production of “Hamlet.” He did an excellent job. He’s an actor, a performer. That’s how we gained an affinity for each other – in our youth, we were both singers, comedians, and actors. We had those desires and skills in common.
I loved performing in front of audiences – the immediate feedback, applause, laughter, congratulations backstage, compliments the next day from peers and acquaintances. All of that is great fun – especially for a young mind and ego. It’s pleaasant to know you have the ability to shape an audience’s emotional responses in real-time.
But as I grew older, I became less interested in two characteristics of acting and performing: First, I didn’t find contentment is re-saying the same things repeatedly. Second, I didn’t want to be a puppet – I didn’t want to say others’ words – I wanted to say my own. I thought I had things as interesting to say as many writers I was reading or hearing. And if I didn’t have things as interesting to say, I wanted to become someone who did.
As I grew older, continued my education, and developed cognitively, I realized I wanted to be a playwright more than an actor. But I may not be particularly good at either crafts, especially the latter.
If you’re considering writing a blog, here are some recommendations:
1) First and foremost, readers are looking for great ideas and content. One great post is sometimes enough for a reader to thereafter be curious about what else you might have to say.
How many times has someone read Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” and that led them to peruse a book of Frost’s poems?
2) Second, kind of like a romantic relationship, many in your audience of blog readers would like something new from you most days. Just like a sports or musical instrument ability is jealous – in that you’ll lose it if you don’t daily (or almost every day) practice those abilities – you’ll lose readers if you don’t regularly provide something they want.
Writing a daily blog is sometimes like a relationship – readers are not simply looking for something new to read – some readers, consciously or unconsciously, may be looking for a consistent, dependable companionship.
Being a good blog writer is kind of like being a friend who gives something most days. If that’s not the kind of relationship you’re looking for, then blog writing may not be a good fit for you – further, writing in general may not be a good fit.
Writing is about giving. Reading is more about receiving. Reading is more often about consumption. Writing is more analogous to exercise or doing the work of creation.
For mortal writers like me, who are not particularly talented, producing something of good quality most days is important – the best we can do. Andy Rooney made a similar recommendation, suggesting his work was to regularly produce something good, not great.
As with most relationships, most people are not looking for you to take up a long period of time in their day. They’re looking for a brief conversation, a means to touch base or check in. So, writing and posting short pieces most days may be better than writing extra long posts once a week.
Just like a good friend, some readers like to know you may be with them (or at least available to them at their discretion) tomorrow. These are just suggestions, not rules.
3) Third. Do you want to know a primary reason why Google became so successful? Before I answer that, I’ll provide some contextual information. A little suspense is a good thing – at least that’s what Charles Dickens said.
As I have probably mentioned before, one of my father’s favorite books is “Million Dollar Habits” by Robert J. Ringer. In the book, Ringer suggests that if a person wants to be rich, instead of trying to sell people what they need, they should try to sell people what they want. I’ve questioned that precept in my internal dialogues from time to time since then. That’s why I do. I question things I’m told are true or immutable. I’m onemoreoption.
Google became successful because the core business and service they provide is excellent search results. “Search,” as provided by Google, is about giving people what they actually want or need quickly and precisely. Google doesn’t simply try to predict an audience’s demand. Google prepares and adapts to be able to provide whatever the audience might demand. Regardless of how the audience’s demand changes, Google is ready to provide concise and accurate supply.
My third recommendation for writers is this: Aim to provide readers with both what they may want or need. If as a writer you provide what other writers are providing better or faster, you’re not supplying a commodity with low supply. Instead, you’re re-supplying them with something they already have sufficiently from other sources. You don’t have to narrow what you provide to only what you perceive readers “want” or only what you perceive they “need.” There is one more option: You can provide both.
For regular readers and writers: The above photo was taken by me. I saw the serendipitous sign on a recent romantic outing. If you’re a regular reader, then you may recall I’ve long used the phrase “kindness matters” at the end of my “Welcome” post. Almost everyone both wants and needs kindness. That’s one of the reasons why it matters.
Thank you to the new and old email, Twitter, and Facebook subscribers. The next two days will have new posts. First, on activism. Second, on the components of long term relationships . . . unless you’d like me to discuss something else.