Unpopular Opinion: F*ck Your Writer Rules
First, Follow The Rules. Then Break Them
If you've been on Vocal long enough, you ever so often come across an article on how to become a successful writer. Topics "How I Made A Million Dollars Writing About Cats." In the beginning, I attempted to follow these articles like a handbook but, I noticed that I started to lose who I am as a writer. People often slid in my DMs with questions on becoming a better writer and what they should be doing. I don't know what to tell them. I didn't follow any rules; I just started writing. Whatever stuck on the wall is what I tend to write about, and what I mean by that is I write what's on my heart. I want to be a successful writer, and I want millions of people to read and respect my work. Every once in a while, I have to remind myself why I'm writing in the first place. I've joined a handful of Writer's Clubs on Facebook and the internet. I haven't been delighted with what I've seen thus far, which is why I created the Vocal Creators Saloon Facebook group. What I may say might piss many people off, and to that, I say GOOD. This article is about my unpopular opinion on the matter.
I think it's time for someone to speak up about what's going on within the writer's community. Before you throw the tomatoes at me, please hear me out. With the help of social media, the writer's community is continuously growing. People can sometimes get carried away telling people what to do instead of advising them on what feels right. After studying everyone's rules, I decided to create my own rules on being an authentic writer. I know what you're saying. "Teisha, you just told us not to follow the rules. Why are you creating another rules list?" I understand. I'm here to explain what these rules taught me and things you should avoid as a writer. Here's what I've learned along the way.
Beware of Writing Clubs Or Groups
Yes, you finally found a community with like-minded people sharing your work and reading others—here's where the problem lies. Writing Clubs are supposed to challenge you to be the best version of yourself as a writer. It's about finding your niche, see what you're passionate about, and continue to cheer you on along the way. It is never about adhering to a To-Do list of items you should complete being a great writer. That mentality of thinking is backward. A leader of a writing group starts with gratitude. Writing for a group of strangers is hard work, and it's scary. The fact that you are willing to take a risk putting words to paper for the public to read is enormous. Sometimes the administrators of these groups push their personal goals on fellow writers. Not everyone wants to be Oprah and Barbara Walters. Not everyone wants to be a journalist. Writers should always write about what their passionate about, and if writing about makeup, wellness, or interviewing CEOs for a car company isn't your calling, then DON'T DO IT. Nobody should make you feel bad about making that choice, including the administrator. Write what makes you feel good, and if that's writing about comics, movies and puppies shouldn't make you feel any less of a writer who continually writes about politics.
Find Your Voice
In other words, why do you write? I've always been a writer. That wouldn't have happened if I didn't have an aunt to encourage and inspire me to write. My aunt would send me a journal every year in high school. She would leave a note to enable me to give my voice legs. By the end of the year, the journal would be complete—every page and line filled with words. In the eleventh grade, I decided to write for the school newspaper. My job was to write CD reviews, but I took that role seriously. After graduating high school and real-life starting to sink in, I stopped writing. It wasn't until 2018 when I decided to journal again with the focus of telling my story about depression and anxiety. A year later, I was encouraged by my therapist to write and practice vulnerability, and I haven't stopped typing since. Telling my story and encouraging others is my calling. Once you've found your voice, you use it to heal the world. Use your voice to inspire and motivate people. That's the best reward as a writer. If you haven't found your voice, I would suggest keeping writing because one day, your voice will show up when it's ready.
Remember Writing Is An Art
Drawing, painting, and becoming a ballerina all take some practice to get better. That's no different when it comes to writing. The more you write, the better you'll become. Each story doesn't have to be in-depth; it just needs to be something you can be proud to present to the world. When people ask me, "How do I become a better writer?" my answer is to "write" or "how do I get a blog or publication to accept me?" my answer is "just write" Rome wasn't built in a day so you shouldn't rush your writing process. Like most of us, we love having goals and accomplishing them instead of attempting to pursue a dream like landing on a publication, spending one week studying how to make an eye-catching title, or getting better at an introduction. If you need more motivation, you can always read "The Tortoise and the Hare."
Don't Just Be IN The Room. Create Your OWN Room
The more I write, the more I realize that I am very egotistical when writing. After spending hours and sometimes weeks perfecting an article, I anticipate that everyone else would admire my hard work and dedication and be just as excited to read my article. Some of my best work didn't get enough reads or tips. I would spend hours with imposter syndrome having a pity-party on why it wasn't a success. One day I decided to write out my writing legacy. What kind of writer do I hope to be in the future? One of the qualities that I admire about myself is that I've always been a leader and not a follower. I've always been rebellious in every aspect of my life. I love going against the grain. When my mother would tell me that I shouldn't do things if it doesn't FEEL right. She was the first person to teach me about following my intuition. I will be the first to say that my intuition has never failed. I've always analyzed what the masses did and took a left instead of right.
I don't care how many books you have or how many people you interviewed; I don't need to follow your journey to fit in a 4x5 room with other writers who followed your path. Remember when I said writers are egotistical? Why would I work so hard to only stand next to a person with the spotlight when I can have my spotlight? My calling is to open doors for others, and sometimes you have to do the unthinkable and sacrifice to see the change. It's so easy to get overlooked in a sea full of writers. I'm challenging you to step out on hope and create a lane for yourself. Now that doesn't mean you can't use other success stories as motivation. It just means use that motivation to help make your lane. Everyones writing journey is different. It's about time you start embracing yours.
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The Vocal Creators Saloon is a community of writers who not only write but support other Vocal writers. It's to get better and to build an audience and a supportive community.