Dear Reader

A few days ago, a reader emailed me to ask for help and guidance on how to best proceed with telling her story on her new blog, how to have more people read it, and how to gain more followers. Though currently, I myself still have a lot to learn when it comes to blogging and writing in general, I can never refuse the opportunity to share what I know with those who believe they can learn something from me, and those who are willing to listen. This is an open letter to this reader, in response to her note to me.

Dear Reader,

I see much of myself in you. Long before I started blogging, writing has already been my bestest friend, my most comforting refuge, my most empowering ally in the battle of life. It helped me clarify for myself things that were confusing me. It relieved me of emotional baggage whenever I felt so weighed down and misunderstood by the world. It has been through writing that I have survived the worst moments, the most bewildering times, and the lowest points in my life. Nothing and no one else in this world knows my soul more than paper does.

“If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad.” — Lord Byron

At first, I only contented myself writing in a personal journal, then like you, I realized I had to share my story to the bigger world. Like you, I found purpose in writing to connect with others, to inspire if I can. For if one person could relate to the experiences I share, I will have made that person know he’s not the only one, that he’s not alone. If one person can find inspiration and meaning in what I write, then I will have done something that might make him feel better, comforted, understood…even when we don’t know each other personally, even when we’re miles or even eons apart.

“That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald

With regard to your query about how to best tell your story, I myself don’t know the ultimate formula, but I know there’s one ingredient that must be present no matter how you choose to do it — truth.

The best pieces of writing, we can relate to because they contain truths we ourselves have observed or experienced, but probably weren’t able to put into words before. So write from the heart, tell your own story the way you experienced it. Many times you have to dig deep, bend over backwards, or try to see farther than what your vision would allow to get to clearly express the truth of your story. But don’t give up.

“What can be said at all can be said clearly.” — Ludwig Wittgenstein

Let your story shine through, unencumbered by pretenses, by frills meant more to impress than express, by all the non-essentials.

“Ernest Hemingway claimed the most essential talent for a good writer was simply a ‘built-in, shockproof shit detector.’ Great authorship is all about truth. To write the stories of our lives as honestly as possible, we must thoroughly reject crap.”  Martha Beck

This is the principle to which I strive to adhere every time I write. Readers know when the author is trying to deceive them, to sell them something they don’t really need, to make them believe something the author himself doesn’t fully commit to…and readers hate it. Pretentious writing does a disservice not only to them, but more importantly, to the craft of writing itself, and to your story.

“Don’t be like so many writers, don’t be like so many thousands of people who call themselves writers, don’t be dull and boring and pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-love. The libraries of the world have yawned themselves to sleep over your kind. Don’t add to that. Don’t do it.” — Charles Bukowski

Now, regarding your question on how to have your writing read by more people and your blog gain more followers, all I can say is this: Don’t let it be your sole nor primary aim.

There are many articles on the web that can give advice on how to write better blog posts, how to “optimize” your writing so more netizens using search engines can land on your page (this is known as Search Engine Optimization or SEO), or how to create blog posts that are likely to get Freshly Pressed. But although these can give you strategies on how to popularize your blog, bear in mind — these are secondary matters.

In the world of writing that truly stirs hearts, inspires people, and shapes generations, those things take the backseat. Learning them can benefit your writing to a certain point, but to maximize the advantage you gain from them, you must know how to use them as effective allies rather than restrictive rules. Have them take a supporting role, while you focus on telling your story as authentically and sincerely as you can. After all, I believe no writer genuinely called to his craft ever started out writing with the main aim of impressing the world through his written work and gaining as many readers as possible. There’s more to writing than that, and I know that you know that. 🙂

Lastly, I want to leave you with a favorite quote of mine that summarizes why I write. I hope you gain inspiration from it too, if ever the time comes that you get discouraged or need a nudge to put pen on paper and bleed your heart out in ink.

Image

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And oh, one last thing. I know I addressed you as a “reader” at the beginning of this post, but you are not just a reader; you are a writer too. Uphold the craft, sister-in-ink. Tell your story and leave a mark. As you said, it’s time for “that little girl that hid in her closet with her little blue book and pencil” to “come out and share her love for writing with the world.” Go do what you gotta do to make it happen. I believe in you.

 …

Always,                       

MistressoftheInk 

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P.S. I just wanna give a shout-out to all the other readers (and writers!) who have recently followed my blog — a big HELLO, everyone! Awesome sharing my own little slice of the blogging world with you! 😉

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24 thoughts on “Dear Reader

    • Hi Christy, thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts on this! Bukowski’s “So You Want to Be a Writer” is really golden advice for writers, amateurs and professionals alike. I bookmarked the piece and am planning to print out a copy so I could stick it up a place where it’ll stare me in the face the entire day. Haha 🙂

      Thanks again for dropping by,
      Carla

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