Why I don’t read writer's tips in "how-to" articles
I’m a writer. Why WOULDN'T I want tips from more successful writers in how-to articles?
I’m a comparison freak.
That means I compulsively compare myself to others. And not in a good way.
(Wait--IS there a good way?)
Well, I almost can’t help myself. When I see someone doing "better" than me, I measure myself against that person—in this case, other more successful writers.
- their website is nicer
- they’ve got a bigger platform
- they’re making more money than me
- they’re written for big names
- they’ve got great authority presence
- they have more experience
Shall I go on?... Don't act like it's just me!
I’ll end that list right here, because—well—it can get lengthy. And neither you or I have that kind of time. We’ve got writing to do.
This is the reason I don’t take the average articles on how to write too seriously. This includes the ones on how to be a successful writer, or what Apps are best to use, or advice on finding a mentor or how to earn six-figures as a freelancer...
Not that these articles aren't valuable.
Not that the person writing the blog is an idiot (although they may be...hopefully I'm not one of them).
And not that the information is moronic. (Although it might be).
Most often it isn’t. Usually the content is pretty useful.
I—yours truly—happen to be an info-junkie. It is an obsession of mine. I never tire of new information, classes, blogs, how-tos, what-nows and everything imbetween.
But there comes a tipping point where my brain feels like it’s going to melt, oozing out both of my ears when opening an email crammed with newsletters, articles and emails.
I have to protect my mind from the tsunami of information out there— information which I write for a living, by the way—oh, the irony.
Bottom line, some tips are really good... but not good for me.
Sometimes it’s where I’m at in my career. Here’s an example: I read some good advice this week from a free online course on how to write the way Google thinks. The first course was somewhat preliminary. It’s like someone teaching a 5- year-old to walk for the first time.
Good training, but the kid learned to walk 4 years ago.
This advice was good two years ago but not today. I’m at a different place in my career now.
There are other reasons I screen tips on writing how-to articles.
Sometimes it’s too damn early in the morning. Or too late at night. Or I have a migraine. Or it doesn’t fit with my personality or my business plans.
A tip may not work in my niche. It may apply to writing a book, not a blog. Or vice-versa.
I might be just plain ol' overwhelmed. TMI. Too much information to try and apply today. I need time to process.
Whatever it is, I realize that all advice is not created equal. I also realize that I’m the type that feels like I have to take everyone’s advice. I'm not proud of this, but authoritative voices tempt me to doubt myself. (Although I'm working on improving this daily). At the end of the day, advice and tips are just that-advice and tips. I don't have to take them. And just because I don't, doesn't mean I'm making a mistake.
The article may be a "shortcut to success", but not for me.
Screening through tips, taking what works and leaving what doesn’t is a muscle I have to consistently exercise.
But as a writer (and a human being), I’m the better for it.