So You Want To Write Online?

TC Flickr
TC Flickr

There are many different kinds of online or digital writers. From social media content creators to bloggers to news and magazine columnists; the list goes on. Within these categories, writers may also discuss popular culture and human interest pieces in the digital space and often write about their thoughts, feelings, experiences, and overall construction of reality. They may discuss anything from relationships to friendship to health and everything in between. And maybe this appeals to you; maybe you’re thinking “I could do this.” Well, if you want to put yourself out there in the digital sphere in this way, I’ve got a couple of tips for you; tips that I try to follow myself, so take that for what it’s worth.

1. Don’t take things so personally.

What I mean here is don’t take audience reactions so personally. When people react online, they usually do so with more candor, and sometimes this means they’re not just going to dislike what you have to say, they’re going to dislike you. Sometimes this translates to insulting you (and your writing) without any constructive criticism. Recognize that 99.9% of the people who read what you write, don’t really know you. So whatever they have to say about who you are and who you are not, is baseless. It’s that simple.

2. Write for yourself, first.

Writing about your personal experiences and thoughts is intimidating and if you write for a site that gets a decent-enough following, you may be tempted to write solely for the audience. But I disagree that the audience should be the lead focus in your writing. When I write about my thoughts or experiences or feelings, I want to own them, however wrong, right, foolish, stupid, intelligent, hilarious, and dry those thoughts and experiences are, they are mine. I want the audience to relate to it but if you begin to live for the audience, you become more of a sales person and less of a writer.

3. Read other writers but don’t try to become them.

I read a ton of other people’s writing because I find them stimulating and I find inspiration in reading other’s thoughts. Sometimes I wonder why I can’t be “that kind of writer.” And in the digital space, it’s so easy to compare yourself to others. But you have to play to your strengths and find your own voice and create your own style; it’s a continuous process. And yes, you may borrow a certain aspect of style or voice from your favorite writers but try to become something original along the way, however impossible this may seem.

4. Separate differences in opinion from personal attacks.

Some of my favorite comments on my writings are from people who disagree with me, and who do so brilliantly and respectfully. I don’t have all the answers, I am a girl with a lot of thoughts and questions which I try to bring up in my writing. I construct my responses the best way I can and I respect that not everyone sees things the way I do and I love it when I can appreciate someone’s difference in opinion. But if you attack me personally, I won’t take you seriously and I’ll refer to my first point — I won’t take it personally — because your personal attack is worthless.

5. Have a sense of humor.

Humor will always take you very far in life and in the digital writing space, learn to laugh some things off. Even when people throw some low blows at you that are maybe not terribly rude but totally miss the point that your piece of writing was trying to make — just laugh it off. My humor is sarcastic and sometimes that comes off as obnoxious both in real life and online, and this leads to miscommunication, especially online. I laugh it off. If you can learn to see the lighter side of things, you’ll be a lot happier in your writing.

6. Remember your “why” for writing.

Some people write because they want to share their opinions with others. Some people have the knack for it and are just good at communicating relatable experiences to others. I write because I have a story to tell, a story that I think is funny or intelligent or sad or thoughtful. I write to release my emotions. I write to give a different perspective on things as much as I can and I write to change the status quo. I write to analyze, and to see life more clearly. And I write to breathe easier, to laugh more, and to empower and be empowered. You have to find your “why” for writing, and when you do, you have to keep writing. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Former Senior Writer & Cultural Advocate at Thought Catalog • Buy Conversations for Smart People • Connect on Twitter, Facebook, & Instagram

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