Superman never made any money for saving the world from Solomon Grundy

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Amateur hour

So, there's an article I want you to read. Here it is. Go ahead, I'll wait.


Finished? Let's sum up:
  • Don't start a blog.
  • If you ever thought of starting a blog and didn't, you're not really cut out to be a blogger.
  • If you can imagine yourself not writing, you're not really a writer.
  • All bloggers are competing with people who live to write.
  • The author has lots of blogs and Twitter accounts and stuff, so she knows best.
  • Don't start a blog. 
In this vein, I would like to propose some additional rules:

If you have ever thought of writing a book and submitting to a publisher, or even self-publishing, but have shrunk from the challenge, don't do it. You're not really an author - there are people out there who feel driven to write every day and can't remember a time when they weren't writing, and you'll be competing for readers with them.

If you have ever thought of taking up an instrument, but hesitated to try, don't do it. You're not really a musician - there are people out there who live for music and can't go a day without creating it, and you'll be competing for ears with them.

If you have ever thought of doing extreme sports, or any sports for that matter, but haven't yet, don't do it. You're not really an athlete - there are people out there who live for that adrenaline rush or the thrill of the contest, and you'll be competing for recognition with them.

As a matter of fact, if you have ever thought of doing anything creative or challenging or interesting, but have not felt compelled to do it with every fiber of your being since you were young, you probably just shouldn't bother to try, since there are so many people out there who can already do it so much better than you can and are making money doing it.

Because self-doubt and the inner critic and social pressure and fear are meaningless and never affect anyone's lives, and growth and renewal and life change and opsimathy are myths, and all that matters is how many people read or watch or buy your stuff.

Or...

You can say fuck that.

Go ahead, start a blog, even if the idea frightens you or you have had several failed or aborted efforts. Give it a try. Design the page, create a persona, make a statement. Don't worry about how many followers you have. Just take a swing at it. The internet is for everyone.

And while you're at it, rent that trumpet or buy a cheap guitar, even if you have a tin ear and haven't touched an instrument since the glockenspiel in middle school. Practice in the park or the parking lot or the basement, or sit on the street and play terribly with a upturned hat in front of you. Work on that novel, or that comic strip, or that oil painting. Submit it to a publisher, or don't. Self-publish an e-book, photocopy a 'zine, enter your work in the county fair. Try kayaking, or buy a skateboard, or join the roller derby team or a kickball league. Win, or lose, or whatever.

You don't have to listen to a content marketing specialist about doing what you might want to do, even if she has eleven Tweetdeck columns (whatever they are), because writing a blog isn't about "competing for eyeballs." The notion that people are born writers, or innately musical, or natural athletes is specious and harmful: people come to projects and avocations through all sorts of paths, and there are all sorts of rewards for the efforts we put in to any enterprise or activity.

So even if you have hesitated in the past or don't think that something comes naturally to you - maybe especially in those cases - go ahead and do it anyway. Make, create, do, and share, with vigor and without apology. You don't need anyone's permission or approval.

4 comments:

Will Shetterly said...

Some people love to tell people not to try. Pity them; don't listen to them.

Walaka said...

Yeah, her message really rubbed me the wrong way. I'm usually not a ranter.

wheylona said...

There is much to criticize, but the most wrong-way-rubbiest bit for me was that she admits to having limited empathy towards those who are not like her, yet she thinks she's in a position to dole out advice to those who are not like her.

Walaka said...

That particular characteristic you highlight is especially obstructive in teachers of writing, so I am alert to it.