Last week I touched upon the fact that we need to get out more. Today I’d like to expand on this idea a bit.
When I first started writing, I was pretty shy. If you met me, I was eager to tell you a bit about myself, but I wasn’t going to sell it. I was too busy hanging out in my own mind and frankly, I didn’t feel like telling you about the places I was going. I preferred life in my quiet little fantasy land. Yet, I still wanted to be heard. My intention with writing was to make an impact without having to do the scary work of being around people. Writing seemed perfect. I wouldn’t have to go to casting calls, perform on a stage or go to a job interview. I could be all the introvert my heart desired.
Because the internet wasn’t a thing yet, I had no idea about what I was up against, or the amount of competition I would face. I thought my innate specialness would get me a deal. Like the kids who get participation trophies, I thought showing up was all I needed to do.
But I couldn’t even do that! I would show up to my computer daily, yes, but God forbid I would have to show up anywhere in person! Gah! Nightmare! Instead, I showed up by submitting hundreds of pieces to every publisher out there.
Of course, most pieces were rejected. Sometimes, a piece was accepted and I could dance a little but on the whole, I was hiding.
Then the internet happened and hiding was a thing of the past. Now everyone had a platform to do whatever they like . . . in public!
Crud! My dream of hiding all my life in monk-like seclusion was being challenged!
Some writers (myself included) recoiled for years at the idea that we would have to debase ourselves by (gasp!) selling our stuff via blogging. We all decided that we would not worry about that right now, we were going to focus on writing.
Then some people started to get contracts from their blogs. Grudgingly, I started five or six failed blogs. My friends did as well. We fudged along, trying and failing.
Enter social media and now every writer has a blog, a channel, a feed, an Amazon ranking. We are spewing out content like so many Pez pellets fr.om Donald Duck’s neck!
And it’s so easy. I mean, you can set up a Tumblr in less than five minutes. You can tweet in seconds. Now, we all have a voice! And it sure feels safe! We can hide and be seen at the same time!
But now that everyone can (and is!) doing it, there is just too much noise. Too many articles, too many feeds. With new apps and sites going live every day, we move like nomadic tribes toward bluer water. Facebook isn’t cool, let’s go to Twitter. Twitter is too noisy, let’s go to Snapchat.
We can do all this from our beds, in our pajamas. It may be time-consuming but it certainly isn’t hard. My ten-year-old acquired 500 Youtube followers in a matter of months on her My Little Pony channel. A high-schooler I know of got 100k followers on Instagram by being blonde.
If everyone can do it, everyone will do it.
This means you have to do something different. Drastically different.
You have to get out among people.
I’m not saying abandon your precious Twitter feed (I’m personally a Twitter n00b). I believe an internet presence is standard. I am just saying that being in the real world is much, much harder. There are logistics, travel, stock, presentation. You have to smile and nod at strangers, you have to be fearless and outgoing. It’s so much easier to Insta your morning happy cookie.
The very fact that it’s hard is why you should get out more.
Sit down today and make a list of places you could speak, visit, set up or invade. Go to schools, offices, parades.
And don’t make the mistake of handing out business cards and hoping people will care. They won’t (see Wednesday’s post on this); you need to make an impression, a spectacle, something people would want to take photos of.
You need to be eye to eye with other humans, getting humiliated, failing and dusting yourself off and trying again.
It can feel very scary, but the good news is, just like posting a pic of your happy cookie on Tumblr, there is no risk. It is totally safe to get out there and do these things. No one is going to call the legitimacy police on you. No one is going to haul you off to fraud prison. Sure, you might get some weird looks but I wager you have dealt with that before.
Get out there, now!
Your competition won’t be there.
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