Weaving the Social Mesh: Write What You Want to Know
I am often asked by friends and associates what they should write. They want to know how to get people to read their blog, buy their book, get more followers on Twitter or more Page LIKEs on Facebook or lots of plusses on Google+.
My answer to that inquiry is always the same: “Just Write Something!” — and everything else will eventually fall.
That advice jumps in the face of two common writing canards: “Write What You Know” and its doppelgänger, “Write What You Don’t Know.” The first school of thought allegedly makes you an expert on your own selfie life; the second avenue of percussion quickly resounds into a research project where the self often goes missing.
I prefer to have people just start writing something and the process will begin to unwind as each word is placed next to another. Thoughts and arguments and proof and prediction naturally soon follow.
In many ways, “Just Write Something!” loosely translates into “Write What You Want to Know” — and the result is the same even if the intention appears to be different. You ultimately write for yourself, not for the benefit of others. If you spend your writing days pleasing minds other than your own, then you’re just a content breeder and not a thought creator.
You really can’t know what other people want or think — because 99.999% of them want only what they’ve already experienced. The new is fearful to them. The invented is something to be loathed. And so your job as a writer becomes much harder. How to you budge a brain happily in stasis that is delighted not to mind a millimeter in any direction other than the circular one in situ?
The great authors find a way to relate the past to something new and unimaginable — and that’s how social change becomes one. New thoughts happen harshly and without expectation. Future thinking should always take away your breath and make your heartbeat faster.
There are certain guarantees you can test and examine to help hone the predictability of your craft. One truth I’ve discovered is that anything Anti-Gun — be it a shared cartoon, a quick Twitter tick, or a more elaborate long-form article — always results in loss.
I can pretty much count on losing at least 10 Facebook Page LIKEs for any and every Anti-Gun update I post — and here’s where it gets interesting — if I post a Pro-Gun update, I don’t get any new LIKEs for the effort.
That incongruence of purpose can kill you as an author if you think about it too much — so don’t consider the aftereffects of what you write — just concentrate on being in the moment of knowing and let the consequences hit you as they may.