How to Write Even When It Doesn’t Seem Worth It
The world sucks, time is short, earnings are down — does one article really matter?
It’s one of the oldest writing tricks in the book.
“Don’t know what to write about? Don’t feel like writing? Write about what it feels like when you don’t know what to write about and don’t feel like writing.”
As writing tricks go, it’s not that bad. At the very least you get some common ground with the reader, who likely has felt one or both of those things at some point.
Of course, there’s the pressure to figure out the twist, the reveal, to perform some verbal legerdemain and turn it around into some actionable, relevant, and simple solution that solves the problem.
The voices ring in my head: start with a clever trick, sure, but that dance only lasts so long, buddy. They’ll stop reading by the fifth paragraph when they figure out you don’t have anything truly original to say, that you’re not going to solve their problems. They might realize that you’ve never really had anything worth reading in the first place, you hack, you keyboard mountebank, you Medium low-rent writer, you…
Oh, you’re still here? Well, thanks for that. I do appreciate it when the voices are proven wrong. Funny, they almost always are, yet they seem just as loud as ever.
It helped to not look at my stats during the month — until it didn’t.
I mentioned in an earlier article that I’d become a compulsive stat-checker for my stories, often refreshing the page minute-by-minute after posting just to see the response.
The solution to this seemed pretty simple: don’t do that. And I’m pretty good at keeping personal constraints, so I didn’t, for the whole month of April. Instead I focused on the responses, highlights, and the unexpected joy of seeing what stories readers added to their personal lists. It’s a special validation when someone decides that what I’ve written is worth adding to their accumulated knowledge.
I didn’t really miss the stats, not much. I’d be tempted in my weaker (i.e., more stressed) moments, but managed to distract myself with other things.