Today’s guest post comes from George Copeland, a freelance features and content writer who can find on Twitter @WordsOParadise.
It doesn’t matter how good you are as a writer, or if you have ‘hidden talent’. As someone who kept my own talent hidden away from public eyes, I know that hidden talent means nothing if people can’t respond to it.
The only way to get better at writing… is to put your fears aside. You thought I was going to say ‘write more’, didn’t you? And what might you be afraid of? Not that people will hate it, but what will happen if they like it. I’m willing to bet that sounds familiar.
When I started blogging back in 2005, my biggest fear was that people would see what I’d written and like it. Or be rude about it. That anyone would respond at all. However, as I continued to blog, offering up cold hard opinions nobody asked for on a range of topics, I grew bolder.
But what to write?
Accept it: your very first blog post will be rubbish. Every new blog I’ve ever read has started with a tentative ‘Helloooo…? Is anyone there?’ type of post. I know this offends the very core of our sensibilities as writers because as Writers we Know What We Want To Say, but I’d argue that it’s an essential trip back in time, to the first time you wrote a story. In my case I was four, and that story was about my sister, her boyfriend, and the family cat (I still have it). Going back to the beginning and rediscovering a process keeps your ego in check.
Twitter’s still a bone of contention for those who think that it’s just a hangout for attention-seekers; like that’s a bad thing. I love Twitter because I get to have serious and silly conversations with friends and strangers alike – hold on, did I just suggest a way of finding new characters and inspiration for dialogue and storylines?
Learning to refine my thoughts into 140 characters has been one of the single best things I’ve ever done. I write emails and content, and outside of work it’s all short stories, a novel, and currently a script. My writing has more impact than it ever did, because as with short-form writing, every single word and punctuation mark counts.
When you set up your blog, set up a twitter account. Use it to publicise your blog. More importantly, use it to build relationships in-between shameless blog pimpings so you have an audience who’ll actually read the thing.
If you don’t feel the need to share your every thought on Twitter, then it’s not for you; that’s OK. There’s still loads of ways you can get your blog read. Or maybe you don’t want a huge audience, so it’s a nice way of getting feedback on your work from a select few. That’s the beauty of blogging – it’s entirely your own thing, done your way.
Write It. Publish it. Er, That’s It
Seeing your words on a page, with – gasp – no middleman or editor to shape them, is incredibly liberating. Having grown up with the traditional ‘write, submit, wait, be rejected or accepted by someone else’ paradigm, complete control is rather disconcerting at first. Now, I heartily flick the V to waiting for someone else’s approval. I think I just drew a parallel with LIFE there…
The downside is that you won’t see all the typos and grammatical mistakes you’ve made until after you’ve published, but that’s OK because you can edit it as much as you like. And yes, you’re still a good and worthy writer if you make mistakes with spelling and phrasing.
That process I talked about earlier? You’re watching it in action. This is where your writing gets better, and your cringe reflex will become less reactive over time. In any case, it’s only blogging. Relax and enjoy, and see where it leads…