WordPress Writers – Don’t Get Sidetracked

And now for something different for published or wannabe published writers…

It was not until I joined the blogging atmosphere that I really recognized the many ‘writers’ that walked on this fine planet. At first, there was an overwhelming sense of connection and community, and I was motivated by the feeling of brotherhood. The fire within me was rekindled and I sprinted forward without much more than a glance back. I found that this was not only an expressive group of individuals, but an extensive group of individuals. The writers, pro and amateur, had infiltrated Goodreads, Facebook, Blogs, Twitter, and any other social media site that would have them. This led to feelings of being overwhelmed, shocked, and even appalled.  I found myself riddled with questions: How many struggling writers are out there? Even if you are a good writer, how do you stand out among the crowd? Are we all being duped? – – I also found myself answering these questions: Too Many. You Don’t. Yes.

Now, there are many things that motivate writers to press forward, despite the odds laid out against them. I won’t go into detail about these odds, because I assume that most folks are aware of the many arguments that surround the writing community. Instead, I want to focus on motivations. For myself, community was one of those motivators that was necessary. But, immersing myself in this realm began to have the opposite impact. I found that there was truth in considering that all things should be done in moderation. [I also found that there is also some truth in what is actually effective for writers in social media, but that is another topic.]

So, let me focus on community. Since I started blogging again in 2013, I have been drawn to spectate at my statistics. I started around a handful a day to about 800 a month, and recently took a plunge back below 25 or so a day, or about 500 a month. For many, this may be discouraging. However, I have realized that my statistics are high when I am interactive and engaging with the people I cherish, and they are low when my voice is absent. I also find people generally only read short posts, ignore any re-blogs, and will like about anything that has a pretty picture attached to it. In fact, most of my followers probably won’t read all this slush, but it will average around 25 likes and a handful of comments that may or may not have anything to do with the context. In fact, some people will like it seconds after it has posted. I would like to think they stalk me, and are superheroes with super reading abilities, but honestly, this is a no-brainer. People are busy. The world is full of shiny things. Attention is a high commodity.

In all seriousness, there are people that I really like on WordPress and that I would enjoy having a closer relationship with, but I suffer from these vices at times. Part of the reason is that I have learned that it is part of the community. Out of the 2100 people that supposedly follow my blog, I barely see or hear from them. This means only 1% of my following actually visit. I am guessing 5% are ghosts, 7% are aliens, and the rest only have access at libraries with ancient IBM computers with exceptionally long waiting lines. There are around 25 people I consider actively interested in my projects, ramblings, and life quests. These are the folks that I go out of my way to read their blogs, converse with, and buy their merchandise. 🙂 I have learned that blogging is fun, some of the people are great, but WordPress has to be done in moderation or I never find time to write the story I feel compelled to tell. Unfortunately, this means that I lose connection with some really cool people months at a time. And then, they don’t visit, and I have to go digging through the website to find theirs again. It is quite unnerving, but I digress.

This is not just a WordPress issue. I have seen this on Goodreads groups, Facebook Groups, Google+, and more. I haven’t had a normal conversation on Twitter with anyone besides one guy in nearly a year. Everyone else tries to sell me something, whether it is there book or promoting my book. The majority of the contributers on any of these websites are not people looking for real connection, or even have a genuine interest in reading a story. Yes, there are some great exceptions to the rule. {I like to think I am one.} But it is hard. I received probably ten e-mails of being solicited on Goodreads just yesterday. And, I get it – I really do. It is not long before any writer finds themselves caught up in discussion groups, writing prompts, shared reviews, beta reading, and debates on the Oxford comma…STOP IT.

I take that back. Don’t stop all of it. Some can be useful to enhance your writing skills.

But – Stop most of it. Surely we have not come to a place in our evolution where the readers of the world are all writers in disguise, or wannabe writers. There must be folks out there, who simply like to read books without trying to write one themselves. But, you are getting caught up in what people tell you is going to work, and what people tell you is the definition of a writer. I want to simplify this definition in hopes of helping you focus your time, energy, and to prevent you from getting sidetracked.

Writer: A person who writes.

That is it. Go out there and write, and then write, and then write some more. After you have spent adequate time writing you might get something published. And when that happens, keep writing. Let your book do whatever your book does, and keep writing. This does not mean that I will be canceling my Goodreads account, or my Facebook page, or any other social media platform. These have some merit, but they must be utilized in moderation – and I would suggest that you use them to primarily build relationships and not sell your works. Otherwise, you might find yourself being sucked up into the idea of being a writer and never actually become one.

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19 thoughts on “WordPress Writers – Don’t Get Sidetracked

  1. You wrapped it up perfectly at the end. I often find myself wondering if I will encounter more of people who are just readers and not necesserily aspiring to be writers and such.
    I completely agree with you, all in moderation and I would also add that we should not let social media and trend frustration influence us so instead of writing our books or stories or poems we go and write 101 complaints about social media :/

    • You are right, Oloriel. Sorry if I started to ramble above a bit. It was written I the haze of the wee hours – I might have started ranting about social media myself. I expanded a bit in my comment to Audrey below, now that clarity has returned to me and I have had a cup of coffee. But yes, finding readers is very difficult – but I don’t think we should spend our time going out and looking for them. Once we have several works out there in the world, the readers will come. It may not be in a massive flow, but they will trickle in and eventually have enough sustenance that we will feel like writers. But, this is part of the disillusion. We are all writers the moment that our pen hits paper (fingers hit keyboard), and we should focus on creating quality work, and telling that story worth telling – not trying to convince the rest of the world that we are writers.

  2. I read the entire post, then liked it. And now leaving a reply. It definitely is important to blog in moderation. I tend to write two blog posts a day these days, yet don’t get much done on my book. But the thing is, if I didn’t blog, I still wouldn’t get much done on my blog. My home environment is too noisy and I have no privacy. I get about 3 hours a week by myself. That’s all. I can’t go into another room and close the door because the only other room is the bedroom and I’d still be talked to by my family. Anyway, it’s not easy to write on a bed. I can write a blog post with all the distractions around me. But if I want to write my book, I can’t have any distractions. Just one year to go and I’ll be living in a house with many rooms and I can hide away and write. That will be wonderful.

    • Jay Dee, Thank you for your response! I was at a place where I blogged and networked through my blog for hours each day. My home environment is also very noisy (I have 5 kiddos), and I usually spend my nights writing when everyone else is in bed. This generally means I do not sleep much, but it is worth it for me. I envy your ability to soon be able to hideaway in a room and just write – I have a good many years before that is an option.

      • When we have a second kid, I think I’ll be going back to having less time again. But at least I’ll have my mom to help out, as she’ll be living with us.

  3. Do you really believe in your simplified definition of a writer? I’m asking because I do, but there are thousands who disagree. In particular, I read a woman’s perspective, someone I admired and trusted on WordPress, about a year and a half ago that expressed the exact opposite. There was a heated discussion that lasted for months. Writers, who’s work had been published already, voiced quite loudly that until you had a viewership and credentials no one had the right to count ourselves writers. We were simply people with something to say. This haunted me for months. I was lead to feel mediocre and unworthy, even though somewhere in my mind I knew the truth. The truth being that it is just as much luck as it is talent for a writer to achieve published status. Mostly it’s the hard work they’ve done to promote their book that sets them apart. Their drive certainly different, but their achievement makes me no less a writer. Relentless dream chasers who finally get what is due them and of that I applaud. I cannot allow their publishing to drive me into a mere diarist status. This is what I’ve learned and must believe so I can stay focused on being me. The writer who is still trying to find the momentum to start the publishing process.

    I could go on, but I’ve rambled. A great post, Joshua.

    • I do believe in this simplified definition, Audrey. But, I also recognize I am likely on the outskirts with this opinion. There are some that may bring in an income killing themselves to be involved in all these facets of the writing community. My perspective is that they may have come into that scene early on and was able to reap some benefits. But, writing communities are very saturated and it is hard to get a jumpstart that way. I think most of the time the relationships are superficial, and [as you implied] it leads ambitious writers to feel mediocre and unworthy. Those that write professionally and keep up blogs, facebook pages, etc. are often hoping to bring in new fans – but this really means very little until you have several published items. Aspiring writers have been disillusioned by online articles and “how to be a writer” guides. We know that it is not until a writer has published their 3rd or 4th work that a fanbase starts to develop, and even then, it is not anything they can build a career around. Bottom line is authors need to focus on writing first and foremost – – everything else is a distraction – one that will keep you from ever becoming successful. Books will begin promoting themselves once the backlist is done and created. The only way you will get a backlist is by writing.

  4. I think you summed up blogging in general. It can be a wonderful and welcoming community but also a lonely place. I find I’ve made my strongest connections through regular linky’s.

  5. I agree with you on this. Being busy, I’ve noticed a large decline in my own numbers, despite trying to keep up with everything. Those that actively engage with us are worth the effort.

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