What You Write About Doesn’t Matter as Much as You Think

Most writers focus on the wrong thing. They have a simple but dangerous belief that holds them back from creating something of real value. Maybe you do, too. What is it?

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Photo credit: mugfaker (Creative Commons)

You believe what you write about is more important than how you write. You worry about this, even fixate on it. Fretting and obsessing, you waste time and energy on something that doesn’t matter.

When we writers do this, we miss the boat. We are concerned with what to write about (because of public opinion or what the market demands) that we neglect the craft itself. But here’s the truth…

Writing isn’t about picking the right topic; it’s about finding the right voice. [Tweet]

What matters, what readers really resonate with, isn’t so much what you say, but how.

“What’s it about?”

The other day, I spoke with a group of authors, and one of them asked me, “What should I be blogging about?”

I replied with a question: “If we were to get together for coffee, what would we talk about?”

She proceeded to tell me her life’s story: a harrowing journey through fear and shame to self-actualization. It was beautiful.

As we considered her experiences, we concluded that what made her story interesting wasn’t any particular incident. Rather, it was the universality of emotions: worry, shame, guilt, fear, passion.

She wasn’t describing the challenges of becoming an author. She was describing what it was like to be human.

This is what good writing does

Writing — good writing, that is — transcends its setting and subject. It speaks to universal truths and core values, how we see the world and what we really believe. Where something happens (or even what happens) is not as significant as how.

For example:

  • Les Miserables isn’t about 19th-century France; it’s about grace in the face of injustice.
  • Gone with the Wind isn’t about the Civil War or living in the South. It’s about the internal conflict of love and self-centeredness.
  • Jurassic Park isn’t about dinosaurs living in Costa Rica. It’s about the dignity of life and limitations of science.

Do you see?

The subject of a story (a child with an alcoholic father) is far less interesting than the theme (forgiveness). My friend Marion taught me that.

If you can find a theme — not a subject or a context — in your writing that connects with a core human emotion, you will never run out of good things to say.

You can jump genres, even change styles, and readers won’t care, because they’re following you for your voice, not your topic.

That’s why you might read The Catcher in the Rye every summer or pull out a Jane Austen novel during Christmas. It’s why we love Hemingway or even gravitate toward Dickinson.

We read these authors not for their subjects, but for their voices, their worldview.

Finding a worldview

Everyone has one. A paradigm. A perspective. A code of ethics. It’s how we live our lives, whether we recognize it or not.

This is what sets a person’s voice apart from the rest of the noise vying for our attention: not what they say, but how they say it.

I hate to be the realist here, but look…

There is no subject you could write about, no niche you could target, no genre you could invent, that hasn’t been done before. So for crying out loud, STOP trying to be so darned clever and original. It’s not working.

Instead, focus on the how, the worldview of what you write. What about the way you see the world is different? What would resonate with some and cause others to disagree? Write that.

Write something worth fighting over, because that’s how you change things. That’s how you create art.

Note: If this resonates, check out my online course, Tribe Writers, where we dive deeply into writing with a worldview. Registration opens only a few times a year. Find out more by clicking here.

Do you worry more about what to write about than how you’re writing it? Share in the comments.

379 thoughts on “What You Write About Doesn’t Matter as Much as You Think

  1. It’s how you say it, not what you say. I’ve heard this discuss many times but the way you put it goes down, deep. ‘Til now I don’t know how you do it. Superb, Jeff. Thanks.

  2. You are spot on as usual, it has all been said before BUT it is your voice I follow and you write so well I think you are writing for my benefit alone. The days I avoid the panic button and just pour out what ails me or makes me laugh, onto the page, these are the days when my readers resonate and comment on my stuff. Thank you again and again.

  3. It is the right piece of guide-cane extended to the
    fledgling writer to find the way in the maze of things. “There is no genre you
    could invent, that hasn’t been done before,” is the arterial note that pumps
    energy to pen what one wants to pen.

    I am afraid that your writing would make a
    non-writer a writer. Thank you.

  4. This post really hits the nail on the head. I spend way to much time trying to figure out the perfect subject or topic to write about. ‘Writing isn’t about picking the right topic; it’s about finding the right voice’ Well put. It’s the ‘how’ not the ‘what’ that matters.

    Thanks Jeff for this really enlightening piece.

  5. This is good advice, Jeff. Thanks for sharing. Now if you could forward this article to every major newspaper in the world, I’d be grateful.

    The theme of this comment is gratefulness after enlightenment.

  6. Your very blog, Jeff, is a great illustration of artist’s voice over the subject matter. As an aspiring writer, I have seen dozens of “daily blog tips” sites. Yours is yet another one. But only your blog do I read in the end and your recommendations do I follow wholeheartedly. Simply because of your voice. I trust it. Thank you.

  7. I have to say Jeff that as a new found fan of your site I am loving the connection that I make with your work and your words. I was recently introduced to you through Kimanzi Constable whom you know of I’m sure. He told me that you would “be right up my alley” in what my message is that I’m begining to voice. As I think about perspective I must humbly say that I am fortunate to connect with you and having read your first piece last night (the writers manifesto or it may have been Wrecked for Misfits. I was touched. Touched by how you connected what you do with what I am trying to bring to my community as well. I love that you are our generation as you called it and you “understand” what perspective really means and the idea of Giving inline with selflessness. I have taken up to much time in your comments. I will be in touch often. I am inspired to follow in your steps as we grow in this journey. If you would be so kind as to guide me. Thanks for your words and your motivation to speak.

  8. I do and at the same time I stop myself and accept this is a skill set and will come easier with time.

    The Confidence Lounge is the site I write on and thinking about what to write about is a lot easier than the last blog I did. But then, the learnings from the last blog has helped me in what I do now.

    So I find when I see it as a skill set and the more I apply this skill set the easier it will become I find myself freaking out less…and end up having ideas of what to write about!

    Aaron Morton

  9. Interesting, but I’ll partially disagree, and partially take something very cool away…

    “Writing isn’t about picking the right topic; it’s about finding the right voice.”

    I really like the idea that it’s both.

  10. So true! Thank you! I think the same goes for work: it doesn’t matter so much what you do for work (or in life in general), but HOW you do it.

  11. I beg to differ. What you write about is just as important as how you write it. Spectacle without substance does not equate to good writing. That’s the problem nowadays, why EVERYONE can be called a “writer.” They write about things that are too indulgent, or shallow, or fail to move or relate people, but they still call themselves “writers” because they can write it in a certain way.

    The “themes” of the stories you gave as examples are what the writers wanted to deliver (they are the topics they wanted to shed light on, only embedded within the more obvious plots), so they DID focus on what to write about, instead of just how to write it.

  12. I think that your perspective is deep, its just well thought
    out and really fantastic to see someone who knows how to put these thoughts
    down so well.

  13. I never thought of writing this way. I always had the whole story planned out, the conflict, but never thought how they would get there. I always just jump to the characters right in the middle of the conflict. I’ll be sure to try this on my blog. Thank you 🙂

  14. What a great post and some encouragement that I needed. I’ve been struggling to get a blog launched because my idea of it when I started working on it has now changed a little bit because of interviews I’ve done for it. I’m trying to find my voice in it and think I know what it is, but there’s also a bit of fear and trepidation that comes along with being very honest. Just trying to push through that and be true to that voice. Thanks again for affirming what I’ve been trying to tell myself.

    1. Do push through it! I decided when I began my blog to leave my “inner critique” out of the equation and while I sometimes let it back in, I’m generally very happy with this approach. I don’t think I would’ve ever met the “real” writer-me if I hadn’t done that. 🙂

      1. Thanks so much for the encouragement Kendra, I really appreciate it! And it’s always good to hear that I’m not the only one that deals with this issue. 🙂

  15. And what do you when you’re still stuck in the middle? I’ve written from the heart and done what works for me and it resulted in no readers. I’ve written content that I thought would be more appealing to readers and that, too, resulted, in no readers. It’s a nasty gray area.

    Writing from the heart, writing what matters to you is important. There’s no denying that. But what can a writer do when they pour themselves onto a page and still get nothing? It’s a very discouraging and frustrating feeling in my experience.

  16. Oh man I really needed this. Oh wow. It was a slap in the face that I am very thankful for. Thanks Jeff!

  17. YES YES YES, Jeff. I am in TribeWriters and have soaked up everything I can through your blog…so far. I can’t get enough of this and This. This post. Wow. I have been procrastinating, fearfully shuffling ideas and always coming back to my heart’s desire. I still can’t see it completely unfold but that’s not the way art works anyhow! I love the line….”STOP trying to be so darned clever and original. It’s not working.” Ha. I can’t get over how much that resonates. Hats off to you. Again.

  18. Sounds very much like Freud’s psychoanalytical explanations of his dream theory: it’s not what you tell, it’s how you tell it. I can live with that :D)

  19. Thanks for the kick in the pants, Jeff. I needed this post. Even though I am an artist, I believe your words can easily apply to me.

    Theme, theme, theme.

  20. Awesome reminder Jeff, just spent part of the day thinking on something similar..your thoughts here are an inspiration – and kick 🙂 – in the right direction. Thanks

  21. Thanks Jeff for the encouragement. I have been writing this way on my new blog and have questioned whether I was doing the right thing, so it was wonderful to hear your thoughts on this.

  22. What if a person cannot write about self without destroying forgiven people? What would you do? I could create an anonymous blog with a pseudonym, but it still seems risky. I do want to share, but can only share what I learned, and always have to leave out the details. Does that work?

  23. Transparency in writing is sometimes embarassing, painful and awkward and yet I have come to realize people who identify with you do so because they know you have walked in their shoes. I write about reinventing yourself and making your passion happen, which I had to do because I was also one who got less joy out of my “job” everyday and had to find more. I agree sharing the emotion behind the facts creates a bond that helps build trust with readers.Blogging should be a conversation. Thanks for the great support, Jeff

  24. Your best piece yet? I love this one. It really is true for all writing. “If you can find a theme — not a subject or a context — in your writing that connects with a core human emotion, you will never run out of good things to say.”

  25. Of late I am concentrating more on how I’m writing. If I can picture who my target audience is then the things I want to say will follow. If I am too focused on the content who my audience is will be sketchy. And I am learning the clearer I am on WHO I’m addressing, the more personal it will become. And the more personal I can make it, the more people will think it is addressed to them.

    I just want to add that learning what my voice is has been essential because we can always find that others have written about what we are considering, but no one has our voice.

  26. Brilliant point Jeff about themes. Great and helpful blog. This will help me a lot in my journey. It does seem slow, but I am committed to the long haul, hoping to bring value to my readers.

  27. Thank you. I really needed this reminder. “Focus on the HOW, the worldview of what you write.” YES!! Thank you!

  28. Thanks Jeff, you really opened my eyes on writing. My first book is on Amazon books but not going well. I know nothing of marketing. Getting desperate. Thanks, Dave Brown.

  29. Your Tribewriters course is excellent. It certainly helped me get started, and the community is so supportive. Thank you for creating it!

  30. I’ve never been a writer, except that I have journal for around 30 years. I have tried blogging, but have stopped. Mostly because I didn’t think anyone would want to read about what I have to say. I got stuck on how to write what I have to say. I’m interested in your class, but scared to start. I start a lot of things and don’t finish. Because I allow myself to lose my focus and get busy with other things.

  31. I’m usually told to focus on what to right instead of how I want to write to share my message. And it’s infuriating because it sounds manufactured when a person doesn’t write from their voice, what they stand for, and beliefs.

    I designed my site to help people understand that an image should create worth seeing worth seeing, and being told to write like an instruction manual sucks. I seen those blogs. My friends make those blogs and you can smell they want money. They’re not speaking from their truth. They’re speaking to the wallet, not the person who carries it. Not even to find a fellow like mind.

    As you can tell, this post resonates with how I feel about how I want to write a great deal. Thank you for explaining my ideas isn’t wrong and I just need to express it.

  32. Thanks for the reminder. I’m going to post a reminder on the wall in front of my desk that says, “What is your theme?” This is exactly what I needed to bring me into focus.

  33. I love this post and found it very helpful! I have lots of experiences to share but then I think what’s so different about them. But telling them from my worldview and sharing lessons I’ve learned through it all makes it unique. Thank you!

  34. Since I’ve learned writing I wanted to be a writer. All the years passing by I started writing and wished it could be my profession for the future. But every single time I also stopped continueing to go on forth. A few month ago I started again und now I hold on. I know I am a writer for all my life but wasn’t bold enough to say yes to me. I started my first blog for psychospiritual coaching in January. Now I finish my first book and start the second blog as a writer. You gave me so much inspiration in the last 3 or 4 weeks! Just let me say THANKS for all what I can see now und what gives me the final kick to hold on to my lifelong vision!
    Sybille (from Germany)

  35. Jeff, I have heard you say this before. But this time I really HEARD you. I guess I was better able to listen. Thank you for this. Thank you for the encouragement. Thank you for your honesty. Thank you. -Kathleen

  36. Hi Jeff, I used to be extremely concerned with topic, and it almost killed my writing. I was overly worried about all the things you mention –what would people think? Is it relevant? It took coming to a point of giving up– literally– I almost walked away. God handed it back to me –said now you’re ready. It took no longer caring so much and allowing the real me to come out. I no longer add words or take away words because of how it will be received. I write what’s in my heart. I don’t think I have a huge following because of that, but I’ve had more people reach out to me and tell me my writing touched them and they’re glad i wrote something bold, something they relate to because it’s real. Thank you for guiding us in our writing passions. You are very generous.

  37. Jeff,

    I just got your e-mail today about finding your voice. These words have remarkable significance because for about a year now I have been reflecting on something God’s been laying on my heart, to “give voice.” And the last 2 months specifically I have been praying about transformation in my life, what to do, where to live, and about this and other words and passions and direction God is giving me. Giving voice to people’s stories, to show their value and to empower them in what God has for them. All this to say, I believe it involves communication, interviewing and writing, and maybe other things. I am heck a scared. But I am SO motivated by God’s heart that is just SO big and SO full of love for people.

    So I am considering and praying about joining Tribe Writers – that maybe it will help me fine tune this huge endeavor. Do you think it works for someone living overseas (an American in South Africa)? Many blessings, and thank you for all your hard work and heart and stepping out to find and follow your own voice! Shannon

    1. Hey Shannon. Actually, probably half if not more of our audience is international, including a few students from South Africa! So yes, I think it’d be a great fit. You’d also meet some great people from around the globe!

  38. Dear Jeff,

    What an amazing post on blogging/writing and finding one’s voice. I am so grateful you persisted through the many blogs that you started and stayed in the game of finding your voice. I am thankful to read what you write and seek to share what my life view and voice is all about as I prepare to launch. Thank you!!
    Mary Catherine

  39. I am concerned with constructing it in a way that will capture the reader’s attention, but I don’t worry. I choose words and phrases to be concise, hopefully to have the most impact.

    BTW, thank you for responding to my e-mail and giving me good advice. I subscribed to Aweber. I ran into a glitch there, though, so I’m stuck at the moment. I’ll come through.

    1. My pleasure, Heather. I am concerned about that, too, but what’s interesting is our readers (or potential readers) aren’t. They’re looking for something interesting, something that aligns with their worldview. And it’s our job to be clear about what we believe, what we stand for, so that they can decide if it’s right for them or not.

  40. Reassuring and enouraging information. I will be sharing your information – in full unchanged accuracy, of course – with my followers and friends

  41. Thank you Jeff! This is me…to the T!! I have been wanting to start my own blog but have likely over thought the what instead of the how. When I think people might get something out of it I fall into uncertainty because I don’t see myself as a writer. I mean, I don’t have a huge vocabulary, I struggle with why anyone would listen to me. When I tell the amazing story of my daughter being miraculously healed of epilepsy & how she mission trips around the world, people invariably want to know more, they want to hear the details, but I get bogged down into the details. I’m an IT introvert & I get overloaded with the what over and over. This was helpful to me in that if I can figure out the how the what will take care of itself. Thanks again! I love reading your posts.

  42. Love the clarity here. This is why I read your blog Jeff. You are thoughtful and straightforward. In a pretty noisy world, I can hear you!! And what I love about this truth is it allows for a deep breath. We don’t have to be someone else…or work so hard at sounding a certain way. We can be uniquely ourselves. A good starting point. Thanks!

  43. Thank you! Once again, very timely for me to hear this. I have been stressing lately over what to write next? What topic?? Your post helped me clarify a few things, and definitely takes some pressure off!

  44. Jeff, you are awesome! You speak from the heart and are an inspiration to me. Thanks for being real!

  45. I took Tribewriters, which was an amazing class by the way, and through it I decided to be real and vulnerable in my blog. Its terrifying sometimes, but I’ve found it has resonated with more people than I expected. Thank you, Jeff, for this post and many others! They have had a huge impact on my writing.

  46. Very good stuff, Jeff! I’ve been like Ellen Chauvin: what do I need to write about to engage my audience? Here’s the thing…if I can figure out how to have drop-down menus on my WordPress blog, then I can categorize my topics. It will be a lot more organized. It’s hard for me to take the time to sit down and figure something like categories out. Not one of the more fun aspects of the blogging job. It’s much more fun to write and click pictures. I think that’s going to be my next step that I have to take–figure out how to get those menus working for me.

  47. I enjoyed this post Jeff. I am guilty in the sense that I always fret about what to write instead of focusing more on my own voice. At times I feel that I have a few different writing voices. Is it a common thing or should I hone in on 1 type of voice and stick with it? I wonder if it gives off the impression that I am ‘inconsistent’?

    1. That’s common, but I actually think every writer only has one core voice. There should be something, some tone or theme, that ties all of your writing together. Otherwise, it can feel inconsistent.

  48. I love that you say that no matter what genre your audience will follow because they hear your “voice.” Thank you.

  49. Thanks for this post. I makes me happy and confident about the story I’m writing.

  50. Awesome, real, provoked.

    Three words that describe how I felt after reading this post. What you say is common sense, straightforward and to the point. We all have a worldview, I like to call it opinion instead. An assessment of what we believe in and how we live our life.

    We need to let our senses take over and wake up and listen to what we believe in. If we don’t let our senses take over, or allow ourselves to wake up to what we believe in, then we aren’t living. We aren’t living our life as we should and ultimately we are living a life that is fake.

    I believe the secret to writing and finding your voice – Be yourself, trust your beliefs, speak your mind, not how someone else sees it, but exactly as YOU see it and FEEL it. You see it through your own opinion, and you feel it in your heart because that’s what you believe.

    Sometimes it’s hard to see it and feel it, I agree. To help with that, try this simple technique that I use.

    Sit down and listen to your thoughts in your mind. It can be any subject, something you believe, your own opinion that you have just created in your mind is there for you listen too. You can choose to listen to your opinion or listen to someone else’s opinion.

    Quite simply, if you listen to your thoughts in your mind, then you’re listening to your own opinion. All you have to do is speak (write) your mind after that. You don’t need to make things up or go with what someone else says. You just need to speak your mind.

  51. Another great post, which made me realized how much I am procrastinating with something very important I want to write that hopefully will have an impact to the readers. Thank you very much Jeff, I wish I can join the tribe writer’s course but for now I can’t for financial reasons. But who knows, probably in the very near future. I will do something about it. Sharing this awesome post.

  52. This is exactly what I have been trying to do with my blog…focus on my voice to find my “tribe”. I don’t want to preach my message. I want to come in like a trojan horse with a positive, laid-back voice to my posts yet getting my point across. It’s difficult at times because I get passionate about social media’s pitfalls. Here is a post I wrote last week when I was on my soapbox… https://cyberforward.com/2014/03/21/dear-huffington-post/.
    (BTW, I screen shot parts of your post to remind myself of your spot-on approach.)

  53. Great reminder.
    Even though our blog is mainly just the story of our life in France ( https://www.pardonourfrench.com ) so family and friends can stay in touch, it is often tempting to write how I think people want me to write, and not how I naturally communicate.
    Thanks – I think it’s just what I needed today!

  54. Oh. No wonder! This totally clears my bemusement. I have a ‘struggling’ blog in the freelance writing niche, and to my surprise, my most successful post (comments and shares) is titled “The Essence of What I Do”.

    Did no single research, no strong compelling headline, etc…unlike my other, but not as successful, well-researched posts.

    Thanks. Now I know I have to simply connect every post I write to ‘my worldview’.
    Thanks Jeff!

  55. I already found my voice, I think, years ago and have had many columns published but when I post stuff I get very little traffic because I am techno-impaired and no-budget.
    Just covered the MAGOP Convention again (also both Dem and GOP in 2010)

    Actually my name is not Victoria it’s Chris Noonan Funnell

  56. Jeff – you are so right! Thank you for this awesome post. Maybe since I met you at the Start Conference, this topic makes me think of Jon Acuff. When I read his material, or listen to him speak, I connect with his language and worldview. I would know he was the author ever if it wasn’t on his site.
    I have wanted to blog as a way to help my followers and personal training clients, but nothing ever feels authentic. I’m going to do some soul searching about my worldview and how it can help me become a better writer. Thank you!!

      1. I love this post as it confirms my own style of writing. It makes sense that only a fraction of people we meet will resonate with us and become friends. Same thing with blogging…we draw like minded people. PS- thanks to you I became a Compassion donor and I love it!

  57. Thanks Jeff, as a photographer without writing skills yet harboring a desire to blog I appreciate you wise words and works.I’ve been thrashing around looking for a subject but now I see my subject right in front of me… I want to help people to see the extraordinary in the ordinary. I saw a woman sleeping on a vaporetto in Venice once and wanted to scream at her to wake up to the beauty around her. It had become to ordinary to her. It struck me that what is ordinary to us is extraordinary to others and I want to view life with a new outlook. Hopefully others will too. What does anyone think? http://www.imagesbymarshelle.com

  58. My bowhuntingroad.com blog has exploded in the past four years and it seems the most common form of feedback I get is a response from someone who says they appreciate that I am willing to “be real.” People can relate to the successes, the failures, the hard work, the humorous situations as much as the instruction I offer. I keep telling myself to be real because that’s what people want. That would seem to echo the theme of this articles.

  59. Dear Jeff, thank you for the reminder. I am so excited to have read the above blog today because it reminds me how it feels to write with your own perspective and point of view. Sometimes, as writers, we are so pressured by social media, editors, too many ideas, we forget what is all about: sharing our vision through our writing! Thanks,

  60. I’ve had some people tell me in the past that I was too deep and too “real”. I guess it scared them. I was so afraid to speak and write like this for anyone except for myself for awhile because I crawled back into my shell. Didn’t want to be hurt again. For the past year I have been venturing out to write about deep subjects. I realized its not about them anyway, so what they think is none of my business! Other people have told me to grow thick skin and not take it personal. Really? How does a leopard change his spots? Sure, I know that I do have to think smarter and not let other people tell me who I am or who I’m not, but to change my basic personality is putting a mask on it and calling that hypocrite me! Instead, the best advice I’ve had is just what you have stated here. Find your voice. Find your passion, find your tribe. After all, if they are following, they are following my “voice”. Thanks so much for sharing your writing, your passion, your journey with us.

  61. Hi Jeff thanks for this post. Really interesting because i’ve been thinking about finding my voice. I don’t know that I’m there yet but I think the more allow myself to write and allow a bit of my personality to come through the more comfortable I’m feeling. Don’t know if you understand what I mean. But I definitely get the it is not what but the how.

  62. Find your “voice”; focus on a theme.
    I’ll keep this in mind. Thank you for sharing!

  63. Thank you for the encouragement Jeff. I have been so discouraged lately about my blog not reaching very many people. Your own story has been so helpful and encouraging!

  64. Oh – my. This is a fantastic article, Jeff! Can I hug you?! 😀

    Your insight is astounding: “The subject of a story (a child with an alcoholic father) is far less interesting than the theme (forgiveness).”

    And your examples clarified your assertion. This is a beautiful piece of writing.

    Thank you

  65. You illustrate this beautifully in your Tribewriters course. So glad I signed up.

  66. Absolutely! Worrying about what to write had just about ground me to a stand-still. Thanks for this insight Jeff.

  67. I completely agree, although for me “finding my voice” was, is, and hopefully will remain an ongoing process. Like yours, my voice emerged from the rubble of being focused on what to say rather than how to say it. Today, I say what I need to say and the how it is said just seems to naturally follow, at least that is what my readers are telling me. Thanks for the affirmation.

  68. Thank you for this. Very encouraging indeed. I don’t have a blog yet but have been told I should. That said, what to write about is / has been plaguing me. In the midst of many seasons at this time, so thought I needed several different blogs to fit. (Waaay too overwhelming for me). Thankfully someone said one was fine. And to just write. Readers of one may not be interested in another post. But others may happen upon something that nourishes and encourages them in addition to the one they specifically went there to read.
    Now…to begin.

    1. Just do it Carol! I started mine and then I helped with a book launch. I wrote about the book and how it was helping me. Then I realized my blog had become public and I will go from here.

  69. This is how I want to write! Thank you for being out there. I will follow your suggestions and eventually take your course when my finances allow.

  70. I went through the madness of getting people to read my blog. It worked. I got good traffic at one point but it left me exhausted and empty. that’s not why I want to write. I want to write to capture the beauty and meaning of my days and hopefully touch someone and make a difference. Today I write when inspired and I let things flow, focusing on my joy. It works much better. I’d rather be at peace than a top blogger. If one day I can be both, great. If not, others things will show up, I’m sure.

  71. I found this to be so true with my blog as well. The advice is invaluable. It not only draws the readers who WANT to hear you, it also allows for meaningful content to flow more free and regular. Both the reading and the writing are a joy. My site, krisburd.com, is doing better than my previous two tries because of this very insight. Thanks for the encouragement.

  72. Awesome. Writing to express our worldview, then letting the tribe come naturally. Love it!

  73. This is by far my favorite post of yours. Thanks for this. I needed to hear that! I’ve been too overwhelmed by my own inner critique that keeps harping on me, “So what! What’s your message girl?” I think I need to stop reading so many “how to blog” blogs (except yours! haha) that are geared more for marketing and just let my voice go and see where it goes. It’s better than not writing anything, right? Thanks again. Your words really stand out from the noise.

    1. I also spent way too much time reading all the how to be a better blogger blogs. I could do a course on it by now. Looking back I think it was more a waste of time, I should have been writing, then it was helpful.

  74. I have been writing for myself for years and not showing it to many people. When I decided to start a blog, I had a ton of material ready to publish. Like you said, I am writing from the heart. If no one is interested in what I have to say, then I will quit blogging, but I will never stop writing from the heart. Thanks for the great post! As a side note, I noticed that you gave photo credit even though it is Creative Commons. Is this just a courtesy or a requirement? It is my understanding that you do not need to give credit for CC. Am I mistaken?

      1. Thank you, Stephanie! This shows you how new I am, doesn’t it? I’m not using the CC plug in, but I will look into it now. I am just downloading pictures from sites that say their photos are available to use without giving credit. I’m just trying to make sure I don’t infringe on anyone’s rights. I really appreciate you coming back to me. Thank you!

    1. There are different kinds of Creative Commons licenses. Some require attribution, and others do not. All CC means is that it’s royalty free — you don’t have to pay for it. I manually add the credit because it’s the right thing to do (give credit where credit’s due).

  75. Jeff- great post. A lot of us start out trying to emulate someone else who is successful with their blogging. But that’s usually a recipe for becoming a cheap imitation. It often takes time but finding ones own voice and uniqueness will set you apart from everyone else. Authenticity, coupled with great content, is the ticket. Thanks for bringing up a key ingredient to successful blogging!

    1. You’re right John. I started mimicking someone else and eventually started developing my own voice. I’ts still a work in progress but I’m getting there. Authenticity is key!

  76. This is such a timely post for me. I have been fretting that because the topic of my blog at Africa Inside: why we need to save wild places and wildlife, is not one of the top blogging categories – self help, how to be a better blogger, finance, health – i will never have lots of followers. But I do have a strong world view so I appreciate this post for the reminder that I need to stick to honing my voice and quit worrying about the category. I too love your friend Marion. 🙂

    1. I am the same way. I have been racking my brain about what niche to write and speak. My wife said, “Jerry, just be you. People like you!” So, I write about me, my point of view on manhood, being a father, and a husband mostly, but it’s the real me. https://TheRealJerryDugan.com

  77. Hey man, great post as aways. I have to say that I’ve been following this advice for some time. My current blog is, what, my fourth, I believe? My posts don’t just betray a world view…they are a world view…my entire blog is a world view. Nevertheless, it’s hard to get anyone to pay attention.

    So, while I agree wholeheartedly with your sage advice…it’s still a long row to hoe.

    I’ve been hoeing since 2008 with little yield to show, but it’s definitely a labor of love. I know I’m no Faulkner and my addiction to the ellipsis probably annoys some, but I think I do an adequate job of getting the point across.

    Like Dani Shapiro, writing has saved me, so for that reason alone…I’ll keep at it.

      1. Yes I have, but I cannot write on demand…that is, I would have to write something that I was passionate about and then offer it as a guest post rather than have someone dictate to me what I would write about…I see a lot of guest posting that seems to be nothing more than pandering for an audience and I’m not interested in that.

  78. This is really helpful, thank you for making this. I was thinking about making a blog soon (when my own work is published, or, right around the time when it WILL be published) and I didn’t know how I was going to attract an audience.

  79. Great! I kind of knew about this but this post helped me to get back in track and write in a way that connects to people and bypass all that repetition crap that is about 90% of the net. I write a blog about diabetes, http://www.diabetesreviewer.com and the gravity pull is to write technical, scientific but you cannot come up with anything new that has not already been published. So I’ll focus on my personal perspective on diabetes and how it relates to lifestyles and the whole way our civilization has veered away from nature thus running into these health problems…this is waht I like to talk about in the cafe anyway

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