I don’t get a lot of things about Western culture. Here are some of them:
- I don’t understand why powdered coffee creamer is still a thing.
- I don’t understand how anyone can find a man who squeezed into skinny jeans to vaguely resemble a half opened canister of Pillsbury biscuit dough “in style”.
- I don’t get the fascination with celebrities and what they’re doing.
- I don’t understand why anyone would want to play a video game to get Kanye’s mother into heaven (yea that’s a thing).
- I don’t get modern art sections in museums. Maybe you consider stacked boxes of Brillo pads “deep” but I just can’t see it being art.
- I don’t understand why people obsess over the question of if writing and books are “dead” or not.
I’ve tried, truly, to be empathetic to a lot of the things beyond that list above, but that last point I simply can’t understand.
Writing as a medium is more important than ever, and this question only stems from insecurities of people who want to pursue writing professionally. I don’t hear readers asking this question. I don’t hear marketers, or stock brokers, or doctors, or academics asking this question either. Only writers ask it. So why is it that at least once a month we see articles like this touting the end of the publishing industry or the death of the paid writer popping up? I believe I have that answer.
That’s right, page views. The reason publications write this shit is because they know the amount of people (a metric fuck ton) out there who are, aspire to be, or are becoming writers. They also know that these people are often — speaking from personal experience here — filled with self-hatred, loathing, self-doubt, and whiskey (vodka in my case). Those people, in bouts of desperation seek out gratification, some sense that they are not alone, that they are not wasting their time racking their brains with trying to write a story. So what do they do? They get on the internet and try to find solace or justification for their procrastination of doing the work.
But those articles are wrong, period. They are flat out exploiting your weaknesses and self-doubt for profit. So fucking stop asking the question.
Writing, in all of its various forms, is the driving force behind almost everything that we do day to day. This ranges from activities we do personally to things we must do professionally. Think about the content we consume that has built behemoths of business and monsters of entertainment. Netflix only boomed when original, compelling shows were written and adopted by the network. Some of the top paid members of the marketing community are content writers. Some of the most inspiring people today in the digital world are also writers, think Tim Ferris, James Altucher, or Seth Godin for example. The vast majority of movies are adapted by writers from novels or stories written by other writers. A woman who wrote fan fiction (terribly) and wrote a book series (also terribly) became filthy rich, and another became wealthier than the queen of fucking England.
Are you catching the drift yet?
Now, I’d be a hypocrite if I told you that these thoughts of self-doubt didn’t go through my mind, or that I don’t read those articles I mentioned earlier because I do have those thoughts and I do let those articles under my skin. But the fact remains that the value in the written word, and in the act of writing — for money or not — is something that is embedded into our human nature.
Those that have the courage and tenacity to pursue the art of fiction, or the conviction to tell the truth in journalism and non-fiction, are all crucial to our societies. I’m not saying we all will become J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, or George R.R. Martin. The odds are against you in that. This craft is hard, but nothing worth doing is easy and everything worth doing has low odds of success. But nothing is impossible, and the fact that everything we interact with and consume today requires writing at some level should be enough of a motivator for you to continue your work.
The world needs writers and their words. The world needs stories, including yours, so don’t give up when you stumble or fall. Don’t let shit articles written by those that have given up dissuade you from pursuing your craft.
Write what you can, when you can to the best of your ability. Fail. Succeed. Try again. Do all those things, but never, ever, stop, because writing is more important to us as a culture than it ever has been before.
If you want to see more from me, or get access to free book giveaways please consider joining my monthly newsletter at www.wilkwrites.com and/or following me on social media.