I’ve been exploring the blogging world for some tips on how to stand out from the pack and build a loyal band of followers. During my investigation, I’ve been stunned at the volume of people who are desperate to be writers. Most people have rags-to-riches visions of being “discovered” and catapulted to fame as the next Elizabeth Gilbert or JK Rowling. The thing most bloggers don’t realize is this – Elizabeth Gilbert and JK Rowling are good writers and most bloggers are not.
Most bloggers have literary incontinence. They spew out the first thing that enters their mind without any careful thought or attention to detail. Blogging has become a diary-type platform where people vent emotions and opinions that they would never do with a live audience. It is cathartic without the downsides of accountability and self-control. I find that ploughing through the 126,000,000 blogs is like navigating my way through a massive shit storm.
I think there are 2 types of people who blog:
- There are those people who are genuinely talented and have something worthy to contribute. Their blogs build a following without dependence on a publisher to notice them first. Finding a good blogger like this is similar o hunting for the proverbial needle in the haystack.
- This is the group of people who are not good writers and their blogs are simply noise that clutters cyberspace. I imagine they fantasize that they are dull office workers by day and inspired savants by night. They can cope with a mundane existence because they feel they have a hidden treasure chest of unappreciated talent that’s just waiting to be discovered. They see writing as an easy and romantic career to fall back on. This type of blogger is in the majority.
I think it’s ok to beaver away at writing even if you’re not a literary genius. Writing is helping me make sense of the world and is my word ladder to lift myself out of the pit my career dramas have thrown me into. It just makes me sad the way people cling to the romantic fantasy that it is easy to be a writer and it’s a good profession to fall back on if your other ones don’t work out. People don’t realize that although the creative process can be exhilarating, it is also grueling.
This is what some of my favourite writers have to say about their craft:
These are pieces I sweated over. I don’t sit down and it just flows out. The first 8 drafts are terrible. It never comes easily. What has changed over the years, is not that the level of struggle has changed, but that the struggle has become more fun.
Truth be told, writing a book doesn’t yield many moments of exhilaration.
Charlie Brooker describes writing in tears in his underpants on his birthday:
I often don’t like the process of writing. It annoys me that it is so difficult. I often feel a real struggle to get things out. It’s like having a massive stammer or like having a 10 foot thick layer of perspex between me and what I am trying to get across. That’s the misery I go through when I write.
Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness.