On Thursdays I usually write about body positivity, but today I am going to write about mindset positivity (if that’s a thing – if not, you heard it here first!)
As most of you know, since settling in Sydney in April I have taken the time to focus on writing. During this time I have achieved more than I could have imagined and met some absolutely amazing people along the way, but I have also struggled more than I could have imagined too.
Part of being a writer is promoting yourself and your work, but this side of it all is something I have found increasingly difficult as time has gone on. Writing is my passion and it always has been, so to have created the opportunity for myself where I can focus on it has really meant a lot to me. However, finding an audience to read my work and building on that audience hasn’t been without its difficulties.
New writers are told that one of the most important things they can do is build an impressive social media following. Social media and the connections you have on there have so much importance to a person’s writing career, a fact that I was incredibly naive to before I started writing full time. Some publishers will not publish your work without having a big online presence, even if you have created a brilliant story. You can even be paid less as a freelancer if you have a smaller following than another freelancer writing an article of the same length for the same publication does. Nowadays, it is not enough to simply have talent, it seems. You need to be your writing, your personality and then so much more. It is no longer enough to just be writer – you must become a brand and one that knows how to market itself. The problem for me is that I never wanted to be a brand or promote myself – I just wanted to write.
Over time, I have found myself focusing more on the ‘branding’ side of being a writer – trying to connect with more people on social media to build up a following, trying to reach out to people with my work. A lot of this has meant I have had incredible opportunities such as being published across various media outlets as well as meeting some of the most brilliant people online, but it has also been hard for me when this side of things was never something I thought about or knew how to do.
I can’t count the amount of times I have shared interviews with charities and been ignored or told that because the interview does not profit them that they will not share it. Even if an interview could help thousands of people and support the goal and ethics of an organisation, some establishments just do not want to share it because it is not content that they have produced, they cannot profit from it financially or because I myself am not affiliated with their charity. It has been a hard lesson to learn that even if you create free content for someone to share that could help someone and benefit their organisation, you can still be rejected.
In most jobs, you don’t deal with rejection often, but as a writer trying to build a brand you deal with it daily. Looking at a stagnant follower count is hard, but what is harder is seeing it go up by 25 in a day then down by 22 the next. The ‘rules’ of social media – follow me so I follow you back and then unfollow me a few days later – are draining. I’ve felt myself putting in an incredible amount of effort for what feels like little return. When people have given me advice on what to do or asked what I am already doing, the response is that other than buying followers I am doing all I can. This cycle of sharing, messaging, asking, promoting and silence has started to become a little too much.
So I took a step back from it all over the weekend. I didn’t post and I didn’t even really look at my The Good In Every Day Instagram account.
This mini break allowed me to rethink my time online and get back to the very core of why I took this time to focus on writing. I felt I had stories in me, stories to share that needed to be heard. I wanted to chase my dreams, to give it a go so that even if it failed I would always know I had tried. I never wanted to be an Instagram influencer or a person who did paid promotions for a living. That’s no disrespect to anyone else out there who does those things because it doing those things is hard work, but my aims were different. I wanted to connect with people who wanted to read my work, to get to know other writers and people who shared my passions.
I never wanted to be ‘Insta Famous’, I just wanted to write.
During my time away from worrying over my online presence, I had an idea for a new story. I am already fifteen thousand words into it and incredibly proud of what I have produced so far. I have written avidly, jotting ideas down in my notes when I am out, being glued to the keyboard when I am home. I have read books I have been wanting to for a long time. Have found me again. I have remembered that I am a writer, not a brand, a person, not a product.
I’m a writer, and I’ll never let myself forget it again.