by Lauren Sapala
In order to be a successful writer in today’s online world there are certain things you have to do.
If you want to get your name out there then you have to play the game in a certain way.
The internet offers limitless possibilities and it is up to you to choose which ones work for you.
One of the statements above is true, and the other two are false. Can you tell which is which? I’ll give you a hint: look for the words “have to.” Whenever you hear the words “have to” your red flag radar should start bleeping at you that something is off.
I’ve talked to five different writers in the past two weeks who have all told me that they “have to” start a blog, even though they don’t want to and they have no interest in it. Every one of these writers also told me that someone else told them this—another writer, an agent, or an article they found online.
Not wanting to do something, but feeling like you “have to” and “should” do that same dreaded thing, is almost guaranteed to lead to chronic procrastination, followed closely by feelings of sinking failure.
This awful concoction of “have to” and “I should” that gets mixed in to almost all online marketing activities for writers is making us crazy. I don’t care who told you that all writers have to blog or how fanatical about it they sounded, but any time someone tells you that you “have to” do something it’s a sure sign that they feel that they have to do things and they are projecting their mindset onto you.
Or, possibly, they just misspoke and what they meant to say was:
I’ve read that blogging is a really helpful and powerful tool for writers.
I myself enjoy blogging and it’s increased my readership.
I feel positive about blogging (for whatever reason) and I’d like to see you give blogging a chance.
Regardless of how it came across, that someone else who offered you that advice probably meant well. However, there are a whole ton of articles out there on the internet telling writers that they have to do about a million different things if they ever want to make it, and they all mean well to a certain extent. The reality is that most writers are left feeling less than, not enough, self-doubting, and panicked that they’re not doing it right and that they will never figure out how to do it right.
The “you have to blog” myth is just one face of the “have to” advice monster that writers deal with on a daily basis.
If you try blogging and find out you hate it, I believe that it’s better to quit blogging altogether and devote that energy to finding something else to do online that you DO like, rather than forcing yourself to do something that you hate week after week.
The internet contains an infinitely vast universe of possibility and potential that is expanding every day. The truth is that no one really knows what things are going to look like in the future or how this whole new publishing/marketing model is going to shake out for writers. What people do know is what seems to be working right now. Blogging happens to be a big thing on that list. But…there are other things that work too.
So, if you truly hate blogging you could try:
Making videos/creating your own Youtube channel
Participating in or creating an online forum
Starting your own Facebook group
Sending out a newsletter with curated links to relevant articles
You could also try blogging—but veer away from traditional blogging techniques. For instance, you could start a group blog with five other writer friends so you don’t have to post as often. Or, you could offer an online advice column. Your writer friends (and your readers) are invited to send you questions and you answer one question a week, so that you don’t have to come up with original ideas or a whole lot of new content.
So many of the writers I talk to on a regular basis tell me that they hate all marketing. It’s a shame because I almost always find that the writer doesn’t actually hate marketing activities. In fact, they usually don’t know enough about the different types of marketing activities to decide that they hate “all marketing.” What’s really going on is that they feel that getting involved in marketing will force them to do a bunch of stuff they just plain don’t want to do. Like blogging.
This is totally understandable. No one wants to do a bunch of stuff that sounds like it sucks and will be a nothing but a chore.
However, once we start moving outside the box of “have to” and “should” different avenues start opening up. Various kinds of opportunities start coming our way. Things that could be possibly categorized as “marketing” actually sound like maybe the teeniest tiniest bit of fun.
The takeaway is to always, always listen to yourself first, no matter what everyone else says you should be doing. And for Pete’s sake don’t force yourself to do something you hate, nothing good ever comes from that.
If you’re a writer who hates to blog, that’s okay. You fully have my permission not to blog.
Now use that reclaimed energy to go do something that will be worthwhile to you, whether that’s filming videos, building a better LinkedIn profile, or figuring out how to offer a webinar.
Of course, you can always put that extra time back into your writing, too.
Guest post contributed by Lauren Sapala. Lauren is a writing coach who specializes in personal growth and artistic development for introverted intuitive writers. She is the author of The INFJ Writer and currently blogs on writing, creativity and personality theory at www.laurensapala.com. She lives in San Francisco.