This is the reality no one wants to accept.
And that’s why so many writers, with so much potential, just give up.
They write, and they write, and they write. And they receive little to no reward for most of it.
For whatever reason, we don’t like that. We want to be read. That’s what writing is for.
But it’s the writers who can suck it up and keep going anyway that separate the accomplished writers from the aspiring.
I write thousands of words every week. I do this despite the fact that about three-fourths of them, though published on the internet for all to see, go unread.
This is how publishing works. No matter how long you’ve been writing, no matter how hard you’ve been working, you cannot reach everyone. You will never reach everyone. And that does not mean you are not good at what you do. It does not mean you shouldn’t keep going.
When no one reads what you have written, that should not take away from the fact that you have written it.
Sometimes, the reasons behind why people aren’t reading your work are completely out of your control. You might catch something on the tail end of a news cycle and miss the mark. You might write something amazing, but in the wrong channel, reaching the wrong audience.
You might write something similar to what someone with a greater social influence and following writes, and publish it around the same time, even unknowingly. Your words get lost, while theirs go viral.
There is no magic formula for writing winning content every single time. There are strategies we all use to increase our probability of success. But even these don’t guarantee that we’re going to watch our words get quoted and shared a dozen times over.
I know you’re looking for that formula. I’ve looked for it too. But like a superfood, a medication, a new therapy technique, there’s no way to predict whether or not the results will always work out in your favor. Often times, whether or not people read your work has a lot more to do with whether or not they stumble upon it. And a lot of times, we just don’t have the genuine online following to make that happen in a big way.
This is why I believe slow growth is the best growth. I would much rather collect 100 new followers over the span of six months than a thousand in six days. I want all discovery of everything I’ve written to come about because people are legitimately interested in what I have to say. So what if I write something I’m proud of and most people don’t care? You’re allowed to be proud of your accomplishments, even when no one else is.
You’re going to write a lot of things. And many of these things, people won’t read, or like, or share.
Don’t always use these things as metrics for whether or not you’re doing good work. Not on their own, anyway.
Focus on the very small amount of people who do acknowledge your work. And if no one does, well, first realize that you might not be at fault. Then keep writing — keep trying different things until something starts working. This might take months or years. But with the over-saturation of things published online, that’s just how it works now. Honestly, some people do get lucky. It’s OK if you aren’t one of them. That doesn’t make you any less of a writer or hard worker.
Value your work. That’s what draws people in. If you care, eventually, you’ll come across others who do, too.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.