All aspiring writers, in some form or another, deal with something early on in their writing careers that can only be described as “doing a whole bunch of writing that nobody ever gives a crap about.”
It’s so normal it’s painful. So first of all, if that’s how you’re feeling right now, let out a much-deserved sigh of relief. Because you’re definitely not alone. I’ve been there. Many other Novelty readers have been there, or are struggling to stay afloat there now.
That doesn’t mean your feelings of frustration are any less justified. It’s not fun, feeling like nobody cares. That’s not really the problem – you’re stuck in that awful reality of the internet being huge and there being too much out there to make standing out as a writer very easy. But until you find your own following, even a small following, and get comfortable in your own personal pocket of the online publishing world, it’s going to be exhausting, and draining, and pretty discouraging, too.
Luckily, there’s something you can do to start building up trust with your small army of audience members, family and friends. You’re just, put simply, going to have to get a little serious.
Serious about writing? Really? This early on?
Well sure. Just because not everyone does it doesn’t mean you can’t try, right? Let me explain.
Taking your writing seriously doesn’t mean you can’t write in humorous tones. It doesn’t mean you can’t spin a negative topic into something positive through your words. It doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to go off and do other things, or that you should feel guilty every single moment you aren’t writing when you feel you should be.
Rather, taking your writing seriously means you do it with purpose and with drive. It means that if you feel like you have something important and logical to say, you say it without holding back. It means you don’t let the fear of being judged for your self-promotion stop you from telling other people about your writing accomplishments.
Taking writing seriously means you treat it like it’s the job or side gig you wish it were, even if it isn’t. That takes hard work, and a lot of research, and even more declaration of your own expertise (or the promise that you’re slowly getting there). You should never cringe at that thought. It’s the people who aren’t experts, who call themselves experts for the sake of views or sales or profit, that give experts and aspiring professionals alike a bad name. It’s okay to say, “I’m training to be an expert in writing about education.” That shows you’re dedicated, that you’re already taking it seriously even if it isn’t official, technically.
That’s how you start gaining your potential audience’s trust, even before you’ve technically earned it. People ask me health questions all the time, because that’s what I’m training to write about and I take it pretty seriously. I don’t have my master’s degree yet, so technically I’m not an expert. But I will be. People who follow that side of my career know that, and they’re willing to appreciate my writing in that niche even if I can’t officially put any letters after my name yet.
I have to emphasize here the importance of having a niche. Many professional writers will tell you not to worry about it, but I disagree. I still don’t really know how to react to writers who claim to be able to write about anything. It makes them appear indecisive or scattered, even if they aren’t. As an editor, I have a really hard time accepting pitches from those who don’t focus primarily on one area. If I’m looking for a health writer, I want to see that an applicant has health writing experience. I don’t care how many articles on 50 different topics they’ve written about. I’m looking for something specific. Show editors and audiences you’re dedicated to your niche, and they’ll take you more seriously. I can guarantee it.
There are writers who write because it’s their hobby and they enjoy it. I have no problem with that approach to writing, since for awhile in college that’s how I treated my fiction writing. But just because it’s your hobby doesn’t mean that, when you sit down to write on your own time, you still shouldn’t at least try to take it seriously. Put as much effort into it as you can. Talk about it. Be proud of it. If people see how committed you are to something you’re just doing for fun, at the least, they’ll have much more respect for that part of your life, too.
There will always be people who don’t value what you have to say. Some will outright disrespect you. Some will even criticize you. That isn’t going to disappear completely. But the more you take seriously your writing, the less likely people are to judge you. Especially those close to you. They may not “get” you. They may never fully comprehend what it’s really like to be a writer. But they’ll understand that you are dedicated to something you truly care about, and many will try to support you in any way they can or know how. That’s important. It’s a small thing, but it can make all the difference.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.