You’ll Always Need to do the Work

The problem with writing advice that promises success

Photo by Shelby Miller on Unsplash

Who doesn’t love a quick fix promising instant rewards?

How about a writing tips listicle to help you rake in dollars, oozing smugness heavily sprinkled with bragging?

Despite its self-satisfied tone, such filler content is surprisingly popular as it appeals to human greed.

We often want something for nothing and if we can achieve it while following the path of least resistance, all the better.

This is how you end up filling your head with vapid wordage rather than doing the work. You do not think and you do not write. Instead, you while away precious hours daydreaming of untold riches that could be yours if only you applied those tips to the letter. Or the next tips. Or the ones before that.

In the hope that you, too, will become successful, you avidly binge on filler content that rehashes the same empty tropes

By the time you’re done, you’re left with a worthlessness hangover, unable to recall what you read because none of it was original. Or written with any heart, just grabby fingers.

The need to compare yourself with others is irresistible, the compulsion to measure your value in vanity metrics inevitable.

You’ve not even started and you already feel defeated.

Are you obsessed with outsmarting the system and sticking it to the man?

Churning out advice targeting the lazy and the gullible is a brisk trade, something that can be done without much effort by anyone who knows how to type. And if you number your paragraphs and keep them short, it takes no time at all. Throw in random dollar figures and you’ve got a winner.

There’s always a mark somewhere, a naive noob who’ll take your word as gospel based on some arbitrary numbers and will even thank you.

And when you type out that kind of filler content and it draws the crowds, it becomes your go-to on days when you can’t be bothered. Have you ever noticed how it’s always the same folks producing this stuff, sometimes several times a week?

If anything, this should help you separate writers from internet typists. The first genus gets on with it without reminding you they’re doing so because they’re too busy telling stories, i.e. writing.

Meanwhile, the second genus will proclaim themselves writers because it’s important that you know they’re the real deal. They are the VIPs among us, those whose writing is about people who write about being writers writing about writing. They aren’t so much requesting your attention as hijacking it right off the bat with clickbait as they aggressively market themselves.

Copy them and you, too, could be on your way to success as a fine purveyor of print pablum.

Writing is all about process and practice, the click ogres will tell you.

On this point, they’re actually correct.

Finding what works for you and having the courage, determination, and dedication to keep at it until you come into your own is key. Practice also helps but you need to have something to say and a desire to say it that comes from deep within otherwise you’re just typing.

And typing repeatedly without a message will only make you better and faster at typing, perhaps until you can use all ten fingers if you aren’t already. This may even be a more marketable and valuable skill than writing online so don’t knock it. Transcription, live closed captioning, and subtitling all call for speedy typing skills so if you’ve got them, you might as well get paid handsomely for them.

But please spare us another half-baked productivity hack you dreamed up in the shower, another recycled listicle, another self-congratulatory tirade on how great a writer you are…

Unless you’re on a bona fide mission to inform, educate, or entertain, please refrain from misleading readers for personal enrichment.

Our eyeballs aren’t vanity mirrors.

I’m a French-American writer, journalist, and editor living out of a suitcase in transit between North America and Europe. To continue the conversation, follow the bird. For email and everything else, deets in bio.

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