I don’t know what to write about tonight.
This happens sometimes. Usually I have no problem sitting down and cranking out a post on schedule to make sure I don’t fall behind. And to make sure you always have something writing related to read about, as if there aren’t already dozens of blogs about writing already out there, most of them probably more insightful than mine.
Trying to make your voice heard as a writer, especially online, is hard. This isn’t a revolutionary statement. Everyone has something to say about every topic. Everyone has an opinion they feel the need to share — and one they have every right to share, mind you.
What makes you different? What makes ME different?
A better question in moments like these might be: What is it about the way you say things that will make people remember it well enough so that they can’t forget you no matter how hard they might try?
If you came here for all the answers, I’m sorry to disappoint you. I love offering writing advice. I love helping people reach their full potential as writers through sharing my own words with the world. But that does not mean I know everything. I still have so much to learn. Every day, I subconsciously try to learn something new.
I do not know how you can guarantee that what you write will never be forgotten.
But I do have some ideas about what makes a writer and their words memorable.
People need to feel understood. They are going through or have been through things. They are excited about something and do not have anyone to share that excitement with, or anywhere to channel it. They are upset, they are elated, they are questioning, they are sure. And your words can make all those feelings seem valid and real, because they are.
If you want your words to be remembered, your words have to be relatable. They have to make someone — preferably more than just one person — go, “Yes! That is EXACTLY how I’m feeling! You put it into words when I couldn’t.”
This doesn’t mean your words don’t count unless someone tells you they do. Most of the time, you will never hear from the people you impact the most. You have to have faith that as long as you are being true to yourself and what you believe and what you feel — and you’re writing about these things with the intention of being helpful and compassionate — someone, somewhere, will resonate with it.
People remember people. And not just people, and not even just the things they say, but also the things they do. The way they treat other people. The way they carry themselves and talk about their accomplishments.
Your words are extremely important, and the stories you tell can draw people to you and make them curious about who you are outside your work (because, in all honesty, you have to have a life outside of writing — if you don’t, there is going to be some part of you that struggles to find purpose. Trust me.)
But let’s say someone reads your book — your debut novel, the one you thought no one was ever going to read because [insert silly reason you didn’t think anyone else would see the value of your work here]. They loved your book, and they want to see if you have written any more.
They look up your Twitter handle (just assuming, for our example’s sake, you have one of those — not mandatory, but often recommended). They see that you have posted a lot about your book lately. Oh wait, actually … it seems your book is the ONLY thing you have posted about lately.
Promotion is important, sure, but … this reader has already read your book. They aren’t interested in seeing advertisements for it on your Twitter profile. What they are really looking for is more “exclusive” information about you. In the form of, yes, tweets.
No matter how private you prefer to keep your life, people generally want to know anything they can find out about those who have created things they like or liked. They are interested in their opinions and takes on certain issues.
So if you want to be remembered as a writer, show the world who you are — through your words, yes, of course. But also through connecting and communicating with your readers and other members of the outside world.
More than anything, other people want to feel like they are living in the same universe as the “bigger” people they admire. So be down to earth. Don’t just ask people to read your book. Invite them into your world. Not necessarily your whole world. Just small glimpses of it.
People want to feel inspired. There is a reason success stories and Kylie Jenner vlogs are so popular (I can’t believe I’m actually making Kardashian references now. Who have I become?). People are constantly looking for things that inspire them to go after their own dreams and overcome their own obstacles.
Your words really can be that powerful, if you use them wisely.
But don’t go out of your way to “be inspirational.” Don’t write things that sound nice and fuzzy just for the sake of warming a heart. Write things that mean something to you, that touch you emotionally, that make you feel alive. If that’s how YOU react to your words, then imagine what a stranger might be able to take away from the experience.
People remember those who inspired them to try something new or do something different or stand up to their fears. When someone leaves a comment on my blog telling me they’re going to go start writing their book because my words helped ease their anxiety about starting their book, that matters. It’s a good reminder, but it’s also a good example of the power of some random person on the internet’s words of encouragement.
There are going to be days it might feel like nothing you say will ever make a difference. That all your writing and all your hard work is nothing more than a bunch of words gathered together in lines on random pages.
But someone out there is going to read your work. Something you write is going to stand out to them, and they’re not going to be able to get it out of their head.
THAT counts as making a difference. It happens even when you don’t realize it’s happening, but it happens. If you speak (write) from your heart, people will remember.
Always remember that you have something valuable to say. Even when you’re sitting in front of your computer completely stuck and unsure what you should blog about today.
There’s always an idea hiding up there in your head somewhere.
You just have to write some nonsense for a paragraph or two until you find it.
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 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.