“If you live for the love of other’s, you will die from their rejection.” Lecrae
Followers, claps, likes, and views all have one thing in common — they’re distractions. These stats distract from the reason you started writing to begin with and that’s to create quality content that people everyone can enjoy reading.
We already live in a world with too many distractions. Our faces are magnetized to our cell phones, we have jobs to do to pay bills, and too many social media notifications is constantly barking at us like a dog that you forgot to feed. It’s a constant feeling of overwhelm and it can take away from your artistic quality.
This feeling of overwhelm is elevated even more so, when you allow it to interfere with your work as a writer. Whether you write as a passion or as means to generate revenue, it’s always important to maintain creative control of your work. When you allow superficial concepts such as followers and claps to determine your work, your writing will inevitably suffer. Nothing you write will feel good enough because you’re constantly searching for external approval instead of allowing your creativity to take over. At this point, you’re no wonder a writer but an entertainer to the masses.
I have personally struggled with this myself and I’m only recently learning to cut through the overwhelm and prioritize my writing. I have at least ten different drafts that I have started but never finished due to a fear that none of it will be good enough. This has been going on for the past three months but its been a constant life struggle for me.
For example, you start writing then you lose hope that it will amount to anything because you have very few followers and no claps on your past articles. Maybe you publish your article but notifications never go off on your Medium app so you slowly lose interest and wondering if you’re wasting your time. That’s my struggle with validation and it may be your struggle as well.
Recently, after my 26th birthday, I came to the realization that if I ever want to be a great writer, I have to do it for myself and no one else.
Here are some tactics to get away from external approval and focus on where it matters: writing quality content.
For myself, I recently moved to Charlottesville, VA after staying in Norfolk, VA for the past 5 years. In doing so, it gave me distance from my casual routine and gave me new surroundings. It forced me to think instead of going through the motions and allowing myself to mentally be on autopilot.
If you’re constantly feeling influenced by others, just get away from it. Pretty simple right.
Find new environments to let yourself breathe and allow your imagination to flow. Cut off your social media and tone down the usage. Stop paying focusing on your notifications and focus on what’s in front of you.
In this case, focus on writing.
Go to the Gym
No, seriously go to the gym. Doesn’t matter what the size of the gym, just go. It doesn’t matter if it’s Planet Fitness or somewhere more specific such as a boxing gym, give it a chance and build a fitness routine if you haven’t already.
The fitness world and the world of writing have one key thing in common — you have to focus on what’s going on right in front of you.
You have to focus. You have to instill self-discipline. You have to block out the excess noise of life and move that weight with everything you got! Or swim with everything you got! Train with everything you got! You have to give it your all but the only way you can do that is by minimizing approval and focus on you.
That’s what your writing should feel like.
This is often my favorite way of jumpstarting my desire to write and I highly recommend fitness to anyone that is trying to practice the power of prioritizing.
However, I specifically say you should go to the gym. It will force you to get out of your comfort zone and focus on yourself amongst other people. It’s pretty similar feeling to writing and hoping someone sees your work. Focus on what’s in front of you and don’t worry about it so much.
Your “Why” needs to be greater your “How”.
Anyone can make a plan and that’s the easy part. The hardest part is executing it. It’s easy to form good writing in your mind but making it reality is another story. Outside approval is a bad source for motivation fuel. If you allow your writing to be inspired by followers, you won’t have much fuel for writing. It just won’t last.
Truly, great writing is inspired by you and your love for the world around you.
Find Confidence in Yourself
The best way to write for yourself is through good ole confidence in your writing.
Build yourself up and allow your inner fire to shine. You don’t need numbers or other people to tell you that your work is good enough. Your writing should be quality every time because you believe in it, no one else.
It’s really that simple.
JUST DO IT! Forget other people’s opinions and just write!
Dayon Cotton is a writer, fitness enthusiast, somewhat eccentric and active duty member of the US Navy. I’m also engaging in public speaking as well. For more of my personal writing, check out my page here on Medium. For personal inquiries or freelance writing, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on Facebook at Dayon Cotton or hit me up on Instagram @ dayoncotton