“WOW ! This is piece of Gold, every blogger who wants to succeed in their endeavor of becoming a successful blogger should read this.” ~ Nell
This was a comment in “Spreading the word: who is sharing your work?” I did not solicit this comment, it is though the type of response that tells you that you are doing something right. In truth I love feedback and always wish I could get more of it. This comment is a piece of gold.
Piece of Gold?
Some of the other comments I have received over time continue in a similar fashion:
- “I loved this post. I had no idea of any of the info in this article! …”
- “Fantastic article Peter. It should be required reading…”
- “Your article made me stop and think… After reading your article I think I can do better.”
- “You just helped me with something…”
- “Great article and a great help… everyone makes mistakes. I do my best and try to work on my skills daily.”
Every once in a while it is necessary to take time to pause and reflect on your work and ask where things are going? The feedback from others can certainly help you do that. I wish I could say all the feedback I have had was positive, sadly there has been some negative comments thrown in as well, one questioning my ability to write. There have been times when I have questioned my own ability as a writer and for me this past year has been a time of forced change due to a variety of reasons.
The Ups and Downs
I was told by an editor that my work is too authoritarian. When I decided to start blogging it was one of my mentors who encouraged me to become an authority and demonstrate my expertise in the subjects I write about. Looking back I realised that I had committed a grave error, I had acted in an authoritarian way in the sense that I had considered myself the ultimate source of knowledge in that specific area — a grave error. I needed to raked over the coals.
After a little introverted thinking which in turn made me question many things I had been writing about. Then I asked myself if it was possible to show your authority and expertise without dictating to readers? I discovered that “its my way or the highway” is rarely the correct approach for any writer.
Expertise is demonstrated through your words and the stories you tell, but there is always another approach that can be taken. In fact there can be many different approaches, because you are a conservative thinker and they are a rebel doesn’t make them wrong, it simply makes them different. As a rebel for most of my life, so I should have known better.
Am I an Expert at writing?
That is a good question, what does it mean to become an expert writer? This would require studying the art of writing, which is something I do on a part-time basis.
Stanley Fish in “How to write a sentence” wrote “some people are bird watchers, others are celebrity watchers, still other are flora and fauna watchers, I belong to a tribe of sentence watchers.” Personally I don’t care what Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Biel, or J-Law are up to at any time, so I can count myself out of the celebrity watch category. I do find myself falling into the category of sentence watchers and in the process writing meta-sentences, or sentences that look at construction of sentences. Knowledgeable, yes, but perhaps not yet an expert. There is still much I don’t know about the English language.
Some people write in sentences that are grammatically poor yet they have millions of views while others write perfect sentences yet struggle for a single viewer. I have always known that my work is unlikely to go viral, because I do not write about celebrities, film stars or the latest gossip, the only hope I have is to write well (technically) and have a style that is seen as informative, open and approachable. I cannot though call myself an expert at writing, I am still learning.
Crafting the perfect sentence is not all there is to writing, there are plenty of good sentences that don’t add anything of value to people’s lives, yet people in their millions read them.
While writing and moderating with Wikinut I had an increasing readership and considered myself to be growing as a writer, being a general writing site it allowed me to expand my horizons, writing about:
- Football (or soccer as you Americans love to call it)
- Artificial Intelligence
- Democracy, and
were part of the most recent published posts. Members of the public don’t see the work I do on commission, just the material published under my own byline on the web.
I am a long way from being an expert at writing. But what would make me an expert? Having a book published, perhaps that would say a lot about you, but it could also say that you have a good editorial and publishing team behind you. Having completed a novel, perhaps I should consider it a good skill to have completed a story of between 70,000 and 80,000 words yet I know one writer who has the imagination to have completed 15 such stories, yet he would be the first to admit that his grammar and spelling still needs improvement.
The point being we all grow in different ways at different times. There is no single mark of success, although one of the best ones being appreciation by reader. Each writer needs to ask whether what they are producing today is a piece of gold?
The Value of Comments and Feedback
There is no denying the value of feedback. People can feel inspired as a result and spurred on to do more, which in turn inspires the writer to write again. In truth most readers do not comment about the things they read so it is difficult to know whether the material is well received.
One thing is true about the Internet today, only informed people know the value of giving feedback and they are often busy, so only do it when moved by a particular passion. To get it, the writer has to get into the habit of asking for feedback, or perhaps introduce a controversial topic, for example accusing Donald Trump of being best buddies with the leader of ISIS. It may be a piece of gold but is it true?
The Buzz from Sharing, Liking and Commenting
When I visit a page written by some well known bloggers there are dozens of comments, minutes after publication. The page was also easy to be found on social media proving that some writers have built themselves a wide audience. Every blogger should be striving to extend their audience, with every Tweet or Facebook post.
There is certainly a buzz to be gotten from sharing, the same should also be true from liking and commenting. Do you as a writer make it easy for your readers? Have you enabled comments? I ask because many specifically avoid doing so, as if they are afraid of any responses they may receive.
Truth is many casual readers are not yet accustomed to leaving comments or questions on sites they visit. For the writer the ability of a reader to comment is special, it is a piece of gold.
Associated content includes:
- A Career Path for the On-Line Writer?
- Intrigue: Thought: What will You be Writing Next?
- Spreading the Word: Who is Sharing your Work?
- The Case of the “Fake” Guru?