In my very first post on this blog I wrote about what gave me the final push towards the blogging world and I mentioned a book “You are a writer (so start acting like one)” by Jeff Goins. Since reading that book, I decided to take on a more serious attitude about writing and I kept following Jeff Goins on his amazing blog.
In the past few days I had the chance to read the first two posts in a series he wrote about how to build an audience and that made me think a lot. The first post stated that if you write for accolades and awards, you are destined to feel frustrated. I completely agree with this statement, I know that from experience and I learnt to write for myself, without caring if nobody read what I write.
It was the second post though that made me think the most. There is a question in that post that bites into my mind: how do you get people (other than your mum) to listen? How do you earn attention?
Even if I don’t care much about how many people read my blog and my stories, I would like to have a feedback, I would like to connect with readers and to understand if what I produce is of any consequence. Jeff Goins gives an answer that is at the same time simple and really hard to come to terms with:
“Here’s the truth: in a world full of noise, the way you get people to care about you is to care about them first. No, we don’t care what you ate for breakfast or what stupid trick your cat can do — until you show interest in us. Once you’ve done that, you’ve earned our attention, and we may start to trust you”
Wow, that’s great! But raises another bunch of questions. How do I care for my readers? What can I do to make them feel that I am interested in what they think and what they need and that they aren’t just the recipient for my ramblings? What can I do for them (for you actually)?
Jeff Goins says that the secret is being generous, share what we know and what we learnt in order to help readers. Easier said than done!
First of all we are all a bit (or a lot) self-centered, we often think about other people as a threat and we tend to keep the good to ourself. But I can overcome my fear of others as I overcame other fears, because writing is really important to me and I am willing to take the risk.
Second and more difficult point: what do I know that can be useful to my readers? I struggled in the past few days to find an answer. Am I an expert at something? Not really. I can’t advise you on writing or finding the job of your dreams or become popular or anything else. But… there’s something I am good at, something that I have been practicing for all my life: not giving up.
There is a part of us, somewhere between our stomach and our belly, that wakes up when we have to make a decision. It’s the location where our instinct resides and warns us if we are doing something wrong, something that we really don’t want to do, or if our path is the right one.
I learnt from personal experience that this sort of sixth sense is always right. However it’s not easy to follow its hints. It takes bravery and a certain amount of trust, but if we manage to do as our sixth sense suggests great things start happening because our inner compass is there to remember us not to give up on our passions.
It doesn’t matter if our passion is a different job, a different mate, a different house or a different kind of life entirely. Don’t try to suppress your sixth sense, because it will eventually re-emerge stronger and more aggressive than ever and then you’ll feel miserable (I know this from experience too).
Now you are probably thinking “Ok, that’s fine. But we can’t base our lives on instinct entirely”.
That’s not what I am saying! Rely upon your instinct requires rationality. Why? Well, whenever my belly tells me that something is wrong, I begin to analyse every aspect of my life that may be the cause of that feeling, then I browse through my options and then I make a decision. A rational decision.
Relying upon instinct doesn’t mean to act without thinking about consequences. Relying upon instinct means to consider all of your option without fear and decide to follow your passion without giving up.
I won’t lie, it’s not easy. Learn not to give up requires commitment and practice and compromise and some mistakes along the way, but it is really worth the effort.
The first step in order to listen to our inner compass is taking some time for ourselves. Try this: slow down and breath, then think about what you want to accomplish without fear of admitting it, even to yourself. You may be scared at first, but then you’ll start feeling better, seeing clearer than before.
Never ever ever give up!
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