The key to success in this world is generosity. It stands to reason, it’s common sense, and if you don’t know it, learn it: The more you give, the more you receive. If you’re a writer or a blogger or just any other kind of breather, then you’re alive, and that means you have something to give. But one of my personal struggles has been wondering, What do I have to give?
I have stories. Yeah, I love to write stories, and I love to give them to the world, and they’re fun to blog sometimes, but the truth is this: That’s not enough. I’m not going to get thousands of followers who buy my books by blogging short stories.
If I want to receive followers, I have to give something meaningful to them, earn their trust and make them feel that reading my books will be worth their time, and then I will receive more readers to whom I will be able to give the stories I have to tell: it’s a win-win in the end, but it’s a lot of work for me on the way. I know that, that’s what I signed up for and that’s why I’m here.
But what can I offer you, and all the people out there, that would be meaningful, that would earn your trust and respect? That’s the question. That’s the question you might be struggling with, too:
What Do You Have to Give?
You’re just a writer. You’ve led a simple, unexciting, unassuming life. That’s probably why you’re a writer. You’re not a specialist in life coaching or social media marketing, you haven’t traveled all over the world or gone through traumatic near-fatal experiences. You’re just—you.
You don’t have to be you when you write. That’s why you’re a writer. When you write, you can transcend your own life. When you’re blogging, you have to draw from your own life and your own experiences, and heck . . . what do you really know?
We’ve actually mentioned an answer twice now. “That’s why you’re a writer.”
Right? You know what makes you a writer. You know what inspires you. You know what makes you who you are. You know the dark, secret places of your own heart. You know human emotion because you’re a human and you’ve felt emotion
You know the truth about yourself. But your readers don’t.
What Do Your Readers Need?
That’s the important thing to remember here. It’s not about you. It’s about them.
What they need from you is you. Just—you. Plain, simple, unexciting, unassuming, you. Not the expert knowledge you wish you had, they don’t need that. They just need the real you.
They need the truth. They need to know who you are inside. I don’t give a cow’s belch for a writer’s alphabet-soup degrees or their professional expertise. They’re artists, and what real readers want to know is them.
Real readers want to know who you are.
You might be afraid of opening yourself up: don’t be. You tell the truth behind the mask of fiction; take the mask off, take courage, and be honest. Your readers will respect you for it.
You might be afraid of wasting your reader’s time with your sob stories: don’t be. Some readers won’t care, it’s true. So they’ll move on. But there are others who won’t. There are others who will be touched.
Because you’ve lived your life, and that’s the story you have to tell. That’s what will inspire people. Maybe you’ve gone through a situation similar to theirs, and you have some practical wisdom to impart, or maybe a message of hope. Maybe it’s just the words “you’re not alone.”
And that’s just it. You’re not alone. Whatever you’ve gone through—and everyone has gone through something—someone else is going through right now and thinking they’re the only one. They’re waiting for you to show them that they’re not. They’re waiting for you to tell them they’re not alone, that others have been through this and that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
That’s what writing about. It’s about telling a story so someone somewhere, someday, will read it and say, “Look what they did. Look what they knew. Look what they learned. They went through exactly what I’m going through now. They lived.” And in that there’s hope; in the knowledge that someone before us went through life and survived it.
Look back on your life to a time when you were crying out to someone and there was no answer. Reach out to that person now and answer them. You may be surprised how many people are waiting to hear your voice.
Do you have an important story to share with the world? Have you recently shared one on your blog or written a book about it? Share with me, do a little plugging!