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This One Piece of Advice for Writers is Largely Known, But It’s Actually Holding You Back

“Write for others, not for yourself.”

How many times have you heard this piece of advice in your writing career? And how many times have you rolled your eyes at it?

Now, before I disagree with this piece of advice, I want to point out that it’s not the actual advice that’s wrong — it’s the delivery. And sure, maybe who you heard it from was trying to sell something, maybe not. But either way, here’s why this is holding you back.

Burnout is real

How far have you gotten into writing for someone else? When you get further and further, how exhausting is it for you?

You can get burned out on jobs, careers, and doing the same thing over and over—if it’s not what you enjoy doing.

That’s the problem with saying to write for your readers. There’s no action steps, no clarification, no follow through. So where does that lead you?

To try and replicate the BS marketing of “X ways to cook turkey” and similar articles. But what growth have you truly seen from those article types?

Maybe a bit. But not as much as you’d like. And not enough to warrant you hating the work that you’re doing, especially as a self-employed writer.

What to do instead

Like I said, it’s not that I completely disagree with that advice, on the contrary, I’m using it right now in this article, but in a way that makes sense.

Write for yourself, but in the way that a reader will enjoy and get the most from it.

If you’re not writing for yourself, why would you ever start writing in the first place? You enjoy writing, therefore you write.

Do what you love. Not what others want you to do. We’re trying to get away from pleasing people, right? So do what you want to do, just with a twist.

Make it usable for others

This article is actually written for myself. However, if I was to read it back, it wouldn’t sound that way. So what does that mean?

Instead of saying “I, me, my..” I’m substituting it with “You”.

“You” feels more personal. It feels more like it’s written for you (maybe not anymore because I just shared my secret sauce with you, but you get the point).

When you’re writing for an audience, it feels better to those of us who read it when it feels more personal. Like you’re talking directly to me. And like we’re sipping coffee at a rainy-day café trading writer-to-writer secrets.

That’s the vibe I want at least. Cozy, personal, friendly. Like we’ve been catching up.

It evokes a more personal response too. Have you ever watched the news and realized that you really just aren’t feeling much by listening to what they’re saying?

You’re not a bad person, you just don’t identify with what they’re saying. Because it’s not about you. That’s just how humans think and connect.

And the stories that do directly affect you, that resonates deeply. Which is why it’s used in marketing tactics (which I’ll get into in the future).

Final thoughts

I don’t disagree with the whole statement, just that there are pieces missing from it. And those missing pieces can lead you down a path of trial and error and to being held back from actually succeeding at this thing called writing.

So, write for yourself. But phrase it like you’re talking to a person sitting in front of you. What do they want to know from you? What question have they just asked you? How would you tell them the answer?

Use “You” and you’re able to write about any experience, life lesson, story, or passion that you want to.

This article was originally published on Medium by Lillith Elaina.

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How to Know if You’re a Writer… or Not

There’s one question you need to ask yourself.

When you set out to freelance write or become a paid writer, there’s one question you need to ask yourself.

Am I a writer or a content creator?

I know the two seem very similar, but the intention behind what they create is very different.

For instance, a writer writes.

A content creator creates content.

Writers write stories, personal experiences, journalism, day-to-day advice, and anything else that tickles their fancy.

Content creators create different forms of content for an audience — visual, verbal, written, video, etc.

Writers write more for themselves. Content creators create more for their audience.

Yes. There can be some overlap. As writers will inevitably write content for an audience and content creators will create things that they enjoy too.

But again, it’s the intention.

And it more so comes down to personal motivation.

Do you create for yourself? Or others? What’s the MAIN reason you create?

For me, I write because I want to share my insights. I want to speak my beliefs and thoughts. I want to externalize my internal world.

And I do hope that it helps someone.

But I would do it whether anyone listens or not. Because I enjoy going back and reading my own journey for myself as a sort of ledger and memoir of where I’ve been and what I thought at that time.

I’m a writer.

But for content creators, it’s more about what the audience wants from them. What value they can give. And how they can optimize it and give more. It’s still intertwined with what they know and what they’re interested in, but it’s different.

They’re content creators.

But a writer doesn’t have to be a content creator. And a content creator doesn’t have to write.

So which are you?

What truly motivates you?

And are you using that motivation or masking yourself to be on the other side?

I was masking for a while as a content creator because I thought that was what I wanted.

2 years later, here we are.

I didn’t like being a content creator.

It killed my creativity and made me depressed because it felt like I had to be in a box to succeed. That’s not who I am. Aka I’m not a content creator.

My motivation is me. My own journey. And though I hope it will help someone else too, I don’t expect it to.

I’ll be pleasantly surprised if it does. And I’ll be comfortable if it doesn’t.

That’s just my perspective on it. What’s yours?

This article was originally published on Medium by Lillith Elaina.

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Why I Love Being a Writer

Simple, yet beautiful.

Honestly, I love being a writer.

It’s the first thing that feels real.

It’s the first thing that feels authentic.

It feels like me.

And as someone who’s been in the entrepreneurship realm for over 2 years, (technically 3 but that’s a story for another time), writing feels like my soul is happy.

I get butterflies when I’m proud of my work.

I feel a rush of happiness flood my heart and my brain.

Dopamine? Endorphins? I don’t know technically which ones, but does it even matter?

I like it.

Dare I say, I love it.

And it’s the first thing that’s brought me joy in many years. It brings me the feeling of newness and innovation.

I love typing on the blank page because my brain is full of sentences to fill it.

I never really resonated with the blank page problem — unless I HAD to write about something in particular.

It felt limiting.

It still does.

But since I think so much in my free time, it only makes sense that writing lets me express those wondering thoughts in a place that’s tangible.

And isn’t that beautiful?

To witness the thoughts you have on a page. It’s a manifestation of who you are and what you do.

Forgive me for being so cheesy and silly, to a romanticized view of it. But it’s how it makes me feel.

Like a kid who just discovered colors.

Or an adult that realizes again that they can do whatever they want (like have ice cream for dinner, though I’ll leave the discernment to you on the decision to do so).

It’s just… fun.

And I love it.

This article was originally published on Medium by Lillith Elaina.