It's most definitely hay fever season Down Under. It's not something I've ever suffered from before. In fact I used to think it was some kind of psychosomatic ailment invented by alleged sufferers to draw attention to themselves in the otherwise lovely springtime.
No more! I finally sympathize, having been slaughtered by the darned affliction all this week. Gah!
Onward. (And upward, of course!)
The more you write, the more you realize how hard it is to get anyone to take any notice of you.
Newbies often worry that their words are going to have some awful and monumental impact on people - way out of proportion to reality.
First time novelists often email me in varying states of panic, asking if it's okay to say this or that. Others are so afraid of putting their name to their own writing, they want to invent pseudonyms - usually just before publication! - in case their own words come back to bite them somehow.
In today's world, it's hard to even get noticed, let alone raise a stir in people enough to provoke a response.
There's about billion new words appearing on the Internet every day. In the real world, probably a billion again appearing in new books, newspapers and magazines. Writers everywhere are trying to read and to be heard, to be taken seriously.
And yet, a celebrity's kiss will always be more compelling news.
You've got to see things in context.
While it takes courage and determination to stand up and be counted, you have to understand that there's a lot of people out there that are already on the journey - people that have already discovered that endless self promotion is just part of a writer's job - and that 99.99% will most likely seem ineffective.
Especially nowadays when a reader's time is so precious.
It would be nice to believe that all the words we slave over will one day have impact and carry the weight we give them.
But the fact is most people are more interested in their own words than anyone else's.
Self interest is hard wired into our natures...
Ironically it's understanding this that will help you improve your writing.
Last week my article focused on the need to connect with your reader.
It's well known in the marketing world that a reader's primary concern is "what's in it for me?"
This is true of fiction, too. People read because they want to feel a connection with the characters and the story. They see themselves as your hero. When you are completely honest, readers don't automatically think, "ooh er, what's this writer like?"
No, they most likely think, "yeah, I understand that. That's what I would feel, do, be like, act in that way."
Books like Twilight and The Da Vinci Code become bestsellers simply because more people relate to the characters and the stories than they do other, just as competently written books.
Again, 'connection' is the key.
And as a writer you have to constantly strive to find better ways to connect.
On a practical, down to earth level, that's why writing a blog is always a good idea for a writer, not only to improve your writing as you do it, to get used to regular writing, but also to 'converse' with your audience and potential fans of your work.
You need to work in different writing mediums too - to strengthen your writing muscles and your skill base.
You have to be aware of societal changes - and regularly adjust your perspective to incorporate new mindsets, new ideas and new technology.
Making a two minute YouTube video promoting your book might seem a daunting project but, given the mindset of the average punter, it's something you should seriously consider. If only to help a large number of people visualize your writing, in a way that is more commonly apprehended today than the mere written word ever is or was.
Don't be afraid to experiment. Never say no to a new way of thinking - and never stop learning.
Too often old writers, even quite successful ones, get stuck in their ways and watch with incomprehension as younger writers rise to the fore and pass them by.
If you're not afraid to fail, you have more power than you think.
Especially if you embrace technology - and are determined to use it effectively.
Rob at Home
Your Success is My Concern
The Easy Way to Write
THIS WEEK'S WRITER'S QUOTE:
"When a man becomes fully conscious of his powers, his role, his destiny, he's an artist and he ceases his struggle with reality. Thus, he is enabled to play the
monstrous role of living and dying innumerable times according to the measure of his capacity for life." Henry Miller