I wrote earlier this week about how writing is a way of life. Each of the comments on the post made me smile, but there were a couple in particular that gave me insight into how my words had become a part of someone else’s day. These comments related when, where, and how the reader had stumbled across the post. Those small details brought me into their experience and gave me the chance to see my writing “out in the wilds,” so to speak. It kind of gave me chills (the good kind).
Writing is often a lonely business. Even though the Internet has given writers a powerful set of tools to connect directly with readers, it isn’t always easy to make those connections. Though we may pour our hearts and minds onto the digital page, our efforts are often met with the disheartening sound of crickets.
You have to remember that just because you don’t see or hear the reactions to your work, doesn’t mean they aren’t there. The Internet is both a blessing and a curse for writers. On the one hand, it gives us the ability to put our work, quite literally, in front of the whole world. On the other hand, it has burdened us with unrealistic expectations about the kind of response we will get. Where once we simply wrote and set out writing free without any assumptions about if or how people would react, now we get caught up in anxiously waiting for some kind of response in the form of likes, shares, retweets, comments, and so on.
But sometimes the deepest connections and biggest influences are the ones you never hear about or don’t discover until years later.
Last night I had my heart strings plucked by just such a latent discovery. A woman I went to school with came up to me in a bar and shared a very personal story of how something I had done all those long years ago had inspired her. Though we were only kids and though I was only doing what came naturally, that small thing had stayed with her throughout her life. And I had never even known. I had been completely oblivious that anything I was doing was making any difference for anyone else.
So, I guess what I’m saying is you just never know. Even if all your hear are crickets, your words might still be making a difference in someone’s day or life. Don’t stop writing because you fear the silence. Instead, imagine the magic that might be happening just outside the realm of what you know.
What I’m Writing:
I continue to focus my client writing projects (you know – the ones that pay the bills), but I also took a little time this week to practice my fiction writing. I’m starting small – just trying to take five minutes out of my day. Just five. Truth is, if I make five minutes, I’ll usually end up stretching it to ten or fifteen. I have no particular objective and I’m not working on any particular project. I’m just doing “sketches,” so to speak – short, quick scenes.
My only intent is to get my creative writing muscles working a little bit more each day … and then a little bit more … and then a little bit more.
In a recent weekend edition, Vy Chazen commented about how she is using the Writeometer app to track her word count. I was immediately intrigued. (I’m a sucker for a good writing app.) Sadly, it turns out that Writeometer is only available for Android and I’m on an iPhone. <sigh> BUT, my searches in the App Store turned up another cool, little app called Way of Life. It’s not particularly about writing, per se, but it IS about forming new good habits (and breaking bad ones).
It’s also elegantly simple. It’s based on the “Seinfeld productivity hack.” All you do is track (on a daily basis) whether or not you’ve done a particular task. I’m currently tracking things like yoga, meditation, fiction practice, reading, and … um … flossing. The app tracks each item and color codes your entries (green if you did it, red if you didn’t, and blue if you intentionally skipped a day). The idea is that you will want to create an unbroken chain of positive checkmarks.
Maybe I’m a lemming, but it’s really helping me to stay on track with my good habits.
What I’m Reading:
Meanwhile, I have one quick read that I just had to share because it was, to me, such a perfect little story. The book is called Fish Soup and it is by Ursula Le Guin, an author who captured my young heart and imagination with her Earthsea books and who continues to charm and enlighten me with her insightful (and often irreverent) essays.
Fish Soup is a children’s picture book charmingly illustrated by Patrick Wynne. The story begins, “There was a man called the Thinking Man of Moha, and there was a woman called the Writing Woman of Maho, and they were friends.” I will not spoil your experience of this magical story with any attempt to distill it into a few sentences. Suffice to say that I found it to be full of both humor and wisdom. Oh, and there are winged mice, too.
Sadly, the book appears to be out of print, but it may be available at your local library. I highly recommend it. Your day will be better for having read it.
And let’s not forget the blogs. Here are a few of my favorite writerly posts from this week:
- Here’s How The World’s Most Brilliant People Scheduled Their Days via @huffingtonpost
- A Simple Tool to Start Writing Blog Posts by @GladDoggett
- Building a Literary Community: Why And How by @thecreativepenn
- How Do You Balance Your Personal & Professional Social Presence? by @annhandley
- On Being a Writer With Skin in the Game by @llbarkat via @janefriedman
- English is Crazy (a poem) via @huffingtonpost
Finally, a quote for the week:
As always – thanks for being here. I hope you have a wonderful weekend filled with good reads and time to write. Enjoy each minute and remember that your words may travel far and wide without you ever knowing.
Jamie Lee Wallace is a writer who also happens to be a marketer. She helps her Suddenly Marketing clients discover their voice, connect with their audience, and find their marketing groove. She is also a mom, a prolific blogger, and a student of the equestrian arts, voice, and trapeze (not at the same time). Introduce yourself on facebook or twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.
“Ripples” Photo Credit: Mark J P via Compfight cc