Writing in the Echo Chamber
How to Build a Thicker Skin (& Where Maybe You Shouldn’t)
It’s human nature to want connection and affirmation. To hope that your writing will resonate with others. That it will teach them something, bring healing, entertain, etc. That they’ll want to give it their full 5 minutes (and then some).
I’m convinced people who don’t write will never understand how brave and vulnerable you have to be to do it. How reassuring it is to see that clap that took 1 click and a fraction of a second to give. (Shout out to the lurkers. I do it, too.)
You’re opening up your thoughts and expression to judgment … commentary … comparison …
“Nothing” is the worst.
A Thicker Skin Is Good
Disagreement I can take. In fact, anytime I write something expressing an opinion, I expect there to be differences of opinion. And I don’t mind when people courteously express them. It means they engaged with my ideas.
It’s when I open stats and see a 17% read rate, a lack of response and interest, that I have to start asking…
Where have I missed the connection?
The important thing is not to give up and hide. I know I have something good in me to give. (You do, too!) But I still have a lot to learn about how to give it.
Some View/Read discrepancy is normal — I read somewhere that 30%-60% is fine, depending on overall numbers. But when stats are low, I think it’s good not only to marshal persistence and a thicker skin, but to channel that inherent vulnerability to inspire a desire to improve.
The Value of Vulnerability & Growth
Where can I choose to embrace that disappointment and use it as a tool for growth? Assuming my skin is thick enough to keep showing up…
…here are some questions I can ask myself to improve my results or process:
- Is it something technical? For instance, if they viewed but didn’t read, is my opening off? Is there a disconnect between my title and content?
- Is it the subject matter? Have my quirky interests led me in a direction too few others want to go? Do I need to buck up and ask a sufficiently-direct normal person where this went off the rails for them? Is there a different approach or sub-topic that could work better?
- Is it the wrong place? If it’s a niche topic, where do people who like that kind of stuff show up? Maybe it’s not (and it’s probably not) the main spaces. But there are a ton of other spaces to publish that are more targeted.
- Is it the wrong audience? Much like “place,” this goes to who’s hearing/reading you. Most people like to hear someone who says what they already think, only says it better.
- Is the writing too complicated? As Anne Bonner points out in her outstanding article on “How to Write and Publish Articles That Get Noticed,” simple, conversational writing works best.
- Are there too many articles like it already? If there are already a ton of pieces on that topic, likely mine is getting buried in the avalanche under those who have a larger following. Is there something else I authentically like that’s less crowded?
- Why did I write it? For income? Influence? To share knowledge? To experiment? For sheer love of the subject? The reason I wrote something can influence how I feel about results and whether I’ve succeeded, regardless of stats.
Building an engaged, dedicated audience doesn’t happen automatically. So it is important to have persistence and a thick skin — not to let the discouragement of others’ opinions or silences be a reason to give up. Continuing to write will improve the flow of your writing and your confidence.
It’s also important to have a growth mindset. Look for ways to improve your process. Don’t just read the advice of others who have succeeded in a way you admire. Be willing to follow their advice and change where you need to.
“Common sense would suggest that having an ability, like being smart, inspires confidence. It does, but only while the going is easy. The deciding factor in life is how you handle setbacks and challenges. People with a growth mindset welcome setbacks with open arms.”
Ultimately, there’s a balance. Just don’t sacrifice the core “you.” Change your process, but don’t change your essential self. As Brené Brown points out, trying to “fit in” can get in the way of real connection anyway.
And keep writing.
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[If you liked this or just like to encourage, please Clap. If you have thoughts on this or ways I could make it better, please Comment and share those, too. Thank you for reading!]