How do I keep writing when I feel that I’m alone on my journey as an author? I can recall a few times being excited that I finished a post or a small project, and wanting others to be supportive, only to be met with, “that’s great. Can you…” and that was the extent of it. This is just on a personal note. I know what it feels like to be swallow your fear and finally publish something, only to realize that no one gives a s**t.
No one cares if I write.
There aren’t people waiting for me to overcome my fears or do whatever is needed to write effectively. No one is waiting for me to quit my job in order to stop putting off what I love most and make time in my life to do it. I don’t have pressure coming from an agent to complete a manuscript, nor do I have publishers wooing me with 6-figure deals.
The truth of the matter is, for a majority of your career, it may seem like you’re alone; you will write and nobody cares or is even paying attention.
So then, how do I stay motivated enough to keep writing?
I know this may seem discouraging, but remember this: there is freedom in the idea that you’re writing something that no one is reading. Once you realize that no one is paying attention, you can let go of the voice screaming in your head, telling you not to fail. This freedom will allow you to focus on doing what you love instead of putting all your attention on the expectations that come with feeling that you and your work are constantly being judged. Obviously, you want people to care about what you’re creating, and writing like no one is paying attention can get you there. In order to keep writing, it is important to keep these things in mind:
• Remember your purpose. What is your real motivation for writing? I know for me, I love to write, not only to entertain, but to help myself and others through my words and experiences. Writing allows me the opportunity to share my ideas and get my voice heard. On a personal level, it’s easier to express myself through my writing and it helps me sift through all the ideas and feelings that crowd my mind. I will admit that there are times I forget my purpose, because a not-so-small part of me does crave attention and recognition. All I have to do is remind myself of my true reasons for writing, and it gives me the strength to keep going.
• Have a life outside of writing. Although you are passionate about writing, it is important to not have that be your only focus. If all of your attention is invested solely in writing and nothing else, it will hurt more when things don’t work out the way you’d like them to. Don’t get me wrong, receiving external validation is nice, but there is more to life than writing. You are a person first, and it’s important to connect with other things that make you, you. It’s okay to go see that movie, or meet up with friends for coffee. When you find meaning in other aspects of your life, your writing will flow and you won’t feel so pressured by needing to make it work.
• Don’t stop writing. Rejections and criticisms sting, and they may make you want to throw your pen across the room and say, “f**k it,” but the key is to never give up. Instead, let those critiques propel you forward and push you more with your next project. Writing is therapeutic and necessary for me to feel alright in this world. When I’m not writing, I tend to become a little more subdued, feeling like I don’t have a voice and that my feelings and experiences don’t matter. We all have stories to share and opinions we’d like heard, so keep that ink flowing and whatever you do, don’t stop writing.
• Lastly, remember that someone somewhere cares about your writing. Although it may seem like your words aren’t being heard (read), you never know who stumbled across your post or who picked up your book and how that may have affected them. If I know that I’ve helped at least one person with my writing, then that is worth more than all the fame in the world.
Yes, yes. This is all well and good, Tiera, but I want people to care about my writing. How do I build my audience?
I know, I know. I want people to care about my writing too. Here are some tips to start building your audience and get people reading.
• Make sure to write consistently. The only way to improve your writing is by writing. Write daily, no matter if it’s in your journal, on your blog, or working on your next big project. Write a few sentences, or write chapters. It doesn’t matter how much you write. Just set the time, sit down, and actually put your pen to paper and create.
• Read a lot. Read as much as you can. In reading, you become a better writer. You may find new ideas or new writing styles that you’d like to try. If you’re planning on writing in a specific genre, make sure to read other novels in that genre. Knowing what is popular and the common style of writing in that genre, will make you a better writer in that area. Reading is research. If you want to become more proficient in something, you learn what it’s all about. If you’d like to get your feet wet in an area that’s popular, follow your favorite author and see what s/he has done to become successful. Sometimes, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
• Is your writing any good? How is your spelling and grammar? How are you telling your story or writing your post? Are you just dumping information on your readers, or is there a flow to your writing? If you want to be well-read, then you must write well. Make sure to edit your work! With blog posts, having a fresh pair of eyes is better for editing, because as the creator, we tend to self-correct as we read. For bigger projects, such as novels, that you’d like to get published, hire an editor. Whether you plan on self-publishing, or finding an agent to go the more traditional route, presenting your work in the best way possible increases your chances of it getting picked up and, ultimately, read.
• Write what you wished someone wrote for you. I wrote Awakening in alternating point-of-views and different timelines because that was new to me. I write these blog posts because I find these tips helpful as a writer and I know someone else will too. Sometimes you have to dig deep inside yourself for your story. Write your first draft and ask yourself, “why” to see if you can go even deeper. To be a good story-teller, you have to be willing to make yourself vulnerable. Your readers not only want to be entertained, but in some cases, they want to find a story they can relate to. The more real you can be, the more attention you are likely to get.
• Keep writing while you wait for the results of your previous work. Create, create, create! Continue to build your portfolio and never stop just because the last piece didn’t go so well, or because you haven’t had any responses yet. Remember, the more you create, the more likely you are to be noticed.
Finally, be sure to promote your work!
You can’t expect anyone to know about your new blog post, novel, short story etc., if you don’t tell them. Post the link on all your social media pages and relevant sites. If you have updates on any of your projects, make sure to let your readers know. I would consider setting up a newsletter and having a mailing list. Do what you need to in order to drive traffic to your site!
You should write for you, because you’re passionate about it, because it heals you, because you’re good at it. Try not to focus only on the financial gains or recognition, otherwise your writing will suffer. However, if you’re able to benefit in these ways, then kudos to you! If you need more inspiration to keep writing, be sure to check out these tips!
How do you keep writing when it seems like no one supports your work? Let me know in the comment section below!