It’s a frustrating truth: everyone wants to win, but no one wants to play.
What am I talking about?
Everyone is trying to sell something. There are plenty of bloggers out there who are trying to gain support and traffic for their brand, their product, their work of art. And I understand that; heck, I’m doing the same thing!
But you know what makes being a seller REALLLLLY hard?
Having nobody that wants to buy.
In today’s world, it’s so easy to be “double-sided”. It’s easy to “go through the motions”. I’ve had several people act excited about wanting to buy my book and read it…but then they never did. I even asked them about it.
Their response? “Uhh…I don’t have money to spend on your book. Sorry.”
“It’s 0.99 cents”.
See what I mean?
Look, I have no problem if you don’t want to buy my book. If you aren’t interested, I’m not going to blame you. But please…PLEASE don’t lie to me. That hurts way more.
As bloggers, we need to have a sense of community. And that community will never exist if we continue to form this false sense of security–this false sense of companionship. If everyone pats each other on the back, but without actually caring…there will be no community.
Please, let’s just all be honest with each other. I understand that, at times, it can be hard to tell someone the truth. I really do. But that doesn’t mean lying is the answer.
Everyone wants to win. Everyone is selling something. But in order to sell something, you need buyers.
And sometimes, to get buyers, you need to buy.
Be a part of a community. Take a chance with someone else’s work. Believe me, it’ll work wonders for you and your community.
Recently, a duo of blogging brothers published a new story on Amazon. What did I do? I bought it right away. Was it my kind of story? No. But did I at least give them a chance? Yes. And that’s what matters.
Be a part of a community. Participate.
That’s how you win!
What do you think?
Sooner or later, whether you like it or not, you’re going to find yourself wondering, “Who are my real followers?”
Sometimes I see these blogs where the author has gained a following of 2,000…or 20,000, or even 120,000. That’s a LOT of followers, and I dream of having that many. That being said, it’s interesting to note that these blogs only merit about 15-70 Likes per post. You might think, “What’s wrong with that? 70 Likes is a lot!” But compare that to the number of followers. If you have 10,000 followers, and you only get 70 Likes…wouldn’t you be disappointed? Shouldn’t you be getting…hmm, maybe at least a couple thousand Likes, assuming that other few thousand weren’t online that day?
What’s going on here?
All right, I’ll admit, we could get crazy with the statistics of blogging; maybe it’s not fair for me to say that only 70 people care about your blog when you have 2000 followers, just because you got only 70 Likes. Maybe those 70 Likes consist of 70 different people each time you publish a post, so from that perspective, you really might have a huge following, depending on how many people are online on different days.
Whatever the case, that’s what this post is about: recognizing that Likes aren’t love, for better or for worse (I just made a political pun and a marriage pun right there!).
When someone Likes a post of yours, they don’t necessarily need to View it. You don’t need to go far to see what I’m talking about. In your Reader, you can see that–without having to click and OPEN a post–you can press the Like button. And you don’t even have to know what you’re Liking. You can appear to be a faithful follower, but in reality, you’re just going through the motions.
People can and have done this to me multiple times.
How do I know? How do YOU know? Well, go to your Stats page. Heck, just go to your “Blog Posts” page, where you can see your most recently published articles. You should be able to see the number of Likes, Comments…and yes, Views!
Does the number of Views outweigh the Likes? If it does, then great job!
Now, the people who Liked your post STILL might not have Viewed it. We can’t tell if the people who Liked also Viewed. But still, the number of Views is more important, because in order to tally Views…well, someone has to actually open up your post! Which means it’s more likely that they read it. Which means it’s more likely that they care.
And bingo. You’ve found your true followers.
You’re followers are the people who read your posts, not Like them. Because you can Like without reading.
Monitor your Views. If they are lower than your Likes, try to change that. Work hard to make posts that are attractive and that really draw people in. Make your writing desirable and View-worthy. It’s easy to Like something. It’s harder to View. Which means Views are worth more.
What do you think?
Have you ever been able to tell that to someone? “Yeah, I’m a writer.”
It feels awesome. Naturally, we don’t like to share things about ourselves with people we don’t know. That being said, telling people about our love of writing seems like something we all look forward to. I know I do. I’m proud of what I love, and, if you’re like me, you’re dying for someone to listen to you talk about your writing experiences.
So maybe we like telling people “I’m a writer”.
But do we even realize what we’re saying?
If you really are a writer, analyze what I’m about to say with a writer’s eye. By saying “I am a writer”, what verb are you using?
“Am”. It’s a verb of being.
Do you realize what you are saying?
Some would say that you are defining something deep about yourself…something so deep, it’s akin to your very nature. What is the definition of nature, as ascertained by philosophers that are way smarter than me?
“Nature-Essence at its center of activity: a thing’s fundamental function”
To say that you ARE a writer implies that it is your nature. It is your fundamental function.
I dare you. I DARE you. Ask yourself a simple question:
“Am I really a writer?”
(“Or do I just write from time to time?”)
Does writing define who you are? Do you need writing? Is writing your fundamental function?
I’ve read a lot of stories about the experiences of successful authors. What those stories had in common was how much those authors had to dive into a lifestyle of writing, whether it was easy or not. They made writing their fundamental function. It was write or die.
My dear followers, are you willing to do the same?
Are you a writer?
If the answer is “no”, then what are you willing to give?
If you want to be successful, if you want to be true to yourself, don’t just write.
Be a writer…
…so that you can say this and know it in your heart: “I. Am. A. Writer.”
Now go for it, and apply this to any part of your life that involves (or should involve) passion.
What do you think?
The power of the mind is incredible. The power of our own emotions, our own imagination, is incredible. We take in so much information around us; ever since we were fetuses, ever since we were babies, we were able to process information. And we continue to do this constantly.
The mind is incredibly powerful…so it’s not surprising that your mind can turn against you.
Sometimes we learn things from our surroundings. We process things without needing to think about it. I can see the doorway ahead of me, therefore I head there, and not into the wall.
However, sometimes things happen in which we do sit down and ponder “What just happened? What does this mean?” And that’s when our mind really becomes powerful.
Because we can influence ourselves, depending on the circumstances or the information we have…or the information we think we have. And the more powerful our mind grows, the more we start to analyze and think about what’s wrong…what’s wrong with ourselves, what’s wrong with this situation, or this event, or that person.
And it so happens that, because our mind is so powerful, but our spirits are weak…we start to doubt.
We doubt ourselves. We doubt the people around us. We don’t even dare to hope, that’s how much we doubt.
Are you powerful enough to overcome your own mind?
Your mind is telling you to doubt. You can’t do it. You’ll never make it. You’re not good enough. The world won’t let you. God won’t let you. This is what your mind is constantly telling you, because you’re so smart, because this is how you processed the information, or how you interpreted the happenings of this or that event.
But are you willing to be stronger than your own mind…and BELIEVE?
Are you willing to have faith? Are you willing to care, even when your mind says it’s stupid?
The mind is strong. So make your spirit stronger. Have faith. It is a quality that all writers must have.
What do you think?
It depends on who you ask. Or it depends on who you choose to look at as the epitome of a successful blogger.
Does blogging accomplish anything?
It’s something we all want to know.
The short and easy answer is “Yes”….depending on how much effort you want to put into blogging. How much effort is enough though? And what exactly are you trying to accomplish?
The truth is, successful blogging will always depend on what you’re trying to accomplish. Want people to hear your political views? Well, you might have a lot of competition, but that shouldn’t be too hard.
Want to connect with other people that love making sushi? So long as you Tag your posts properly, that should be easy enough.
What about promoting an online jewelry business? Things just got a bit more difficult.
What about trying to promote your latest novel? I can testify that this is also very hard.
Accomplishing some things with blogging is easy, whereas accomplishing other things is hard…what’s the common thread that unites all successful blogging?
Believe it or not, I believe that successful blogging involves one key factor:
Being a good follower/engaging your audience.
As ironic as it might seem, I notice that people who are most successful in the blogging world are also those people that actively engage their audience. This involves Liking and Commenting on OTHER peoples’ posts, as well as responding to comments and blogging about things that people can relate to.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan of following blogs I’m not interested in. I’m not saying you should follow someone’s blog JUST BECAUSE they followed yours. All I’m saying is becoming a successful blogger means having something to offer to your followers, and this can involve being an active follower towards them.
A Challenge for You
If you’re the kind of person who asks, “Does blogging accomplish anything?” then this challenge is for you.
Think of the ways that you can be a more active follower. Think of the ways that you can engage your audience more. Think of the ways that you can write something that means something to your FOLLOWERS, not just yourself.
And go put those thoughts into action.
Blogging is only fun and meaningful when you help make it meaningful for others. Go be a part of the community and stop waiting for the community to serve you.
If put all of this into action, yes, blogging will accomplish something. Maybe even anything.
I consider myself to be a master of logic.
If you like the way I write, you should check out my fantasy novel here. It’s called Elithius. It’s pretty awesome. Why waste your time doing other things when you could be reading my book?
See, a master of logic.
And here’s the cover because it’s awesome:
All right, let’s face, we ALL love it when characters are human. Nobody likes it when characters are so perfect that we can’t relate to them. We want characters who have realistic struggles, realistic emotions, realistic anger, feelings of hurt, love, lust, revenge, pride…etc.
(Hopefully) we want to see these characters rise above their weaknesses and flaws. But, we also can’t deny that we…enjoy the fact that they have these flaws. We enjoy watching the struggle.
Perhaps we enjoy the struggle of a character who can’t seem to find a decent girlfriend; we watch him go through relationship after relationship, and we enjoy the ups and downs of his story. It’s much better than a happy, perfect love story that has no drama at all, right?
Or perhaps we enjoy the feelings of determination, anger, and vengeance of a certain heroine that has lost EVERYTHING, and she focuses all her energy on getting back at the people who hurt her.
Perhaps we even love listening to the depressed ramblings of a divorced, lonely character, who watches the world through a window and just thinks. Perhaps we can relate to this person in some shape or form, and it eases our pain.
Human characters are great. But when do they not become great?
I’ve been reading this book about the life of Pope John Paul II (now Saint John Paul II). Don’t worry, I’m not going to start writing about tons of religious stuff. This great man just happened to say something really smart and wise (he was a pope, after all!), and I thought I would share it with you, since I believe it applies to writing and “human” characters:
“Without the Gospel, man remains a dramatic question with no adequate answer”-Pope Saint John Paul II
Why is this quote helpful and meaningful to understanding the problem of “too human” characters?
Let’s break the quote down first, starting from the end and going back to the beginning.
“…no adequate answer…”
The way I see it, this part of the quote refers to the part of “human” characters that we love. We love the complexity of characters that have flaws and problems; at times, it doesn’t seem like those flaws or problems have any answers.
There’s an element of mystery, wonder, and even awe in regards to the intricacy of the human person. We cannot seem to grasp the true depth of each character’s train of logic, his or her emotions, or his or her view of life.
Our mystery-craving, awe-inspired minds relish in the fact that a person can be considered a “question with no adequate answer”. It’s exciting.
Which brings us to the next part of the quote.
“…man remains a question…”
Once again, there is an element of mystery that surrounds every person’s thoughts, words, and actions. Also, every difficult, morally ambiguous situation we find characters in present the characters–and ourselves–with that question of who we are and what it means to be human.
Every character with flaws, with skeletons in the closet, with childhood scars, with seemingly impossible endeavors, is a question unto himself or herself. And this is another part of “human characters” that we enjoy, that we take delight in…because we often feel like a question ourselves.
We can all feel like a question without an answer.
Get Your Head Out of the Gutter…
In my mind, characters become “too” human when they start to wallow in their own flaws, problems, habits, etc. This is perfectly realistic, as real-live humans do it too…but it isn’t in any way a good thing.
Trust me. Anyone here listen to songs by Twenty-One Pilots? Adele? How about Linkin Park?
So many songs that these artists write are about inner struggles, inner demons, past regrets, etc….and I get it. Maybe these artists want to vent what they’re going through. But there comes a point where it’s not venting anymore; it’s living in your problems and making everything, even your hobby/calling, all about your struggles.
I’m guilty of this too. I’m tempted to make my own characters from my story so steeped in problems, so filled with flaws, just so that I can feel okay with my own. But guess what? That’s going to help nobody.
When we see characters wallowing in their sins or crises–whatever it may be–instead of rising above them, the act of wallowing in our flaws becomes NORMALIZED. It’s NORMAL to allow hatred to consume you. It’s NORMAL to let your previous, abusive relationship ruin your current one. It’s NORMAL to make out with someone so that you’ll feel whole inside. It’s NORMAL to become the bully because you were bullied as a child.
It’s NORMAL for every character, every real-live person, to be “a question without an answer”.
And you’re right. It IS normal.
But only “without the Gospel…”.
Following the quote-analogy that I’ve been using, we must discern the phrase, “Without the Gospel”.
“Without the Gospel…”
For the sake of the analogy, insofar as we apply it to characters, I take this to mean “Without a sense of right or wrong” or “without a sense of truth”. Or “without a sense of hope” or “without a sense of faith” or “without a sense of love” or “without a sense of mercy”.
Because all of those things–right and wrong, truth, hope, faith, love, and mercy–is what the Gospel is all about.
Rewrite the quote now:
“Without a sense of right or wrong, truth, hope, faith, love or mercy, man remains a question with no adequate answer”
Why does this fix things?
Because the flaws and struggles of characters will only ever drown them if they don’t have this sense of “the Gospel”. Without this sense of “the Gospel”, there IS no answer to man, who is a mighty question indeed!
Anger will have no purpose or end. It will only lead to more anger. It will lead to revenge. There will be no satisfaction.
Lustful, steamy attractions will just go on and on and end in heartbreak after heartbreak. There will be no love, no romance, no happy ending.
Depressing moods and streams of consciousness will have no meaning without hope. Without mercy. Without faith. There will only be despair as the mind slips into a state of constant resentfulness and quiet brooding.
This “sense of the Gospel” that I speak of is the only way that we, as writers, as bloggers, as authors, will be able to create characters that do not keep humanity down in the dumps. We must acknowledge how broken humanity is, how destructive we are unto ourselves…but we must also acknowledge that, by our art, we have a duty to strengthen the world around us by proclaiming the truth.
And what is the truth?
Humanity is a broken, fallen race, that will never be able to rise above its flaws and sinfulness…
…without the Gospel.
But with this sense of the “Gospel”, everything falls into place. Everything makes sense. Anger is satisfied by justice. Sadness is satisfied by love and comfort (not depression). Doubt is satisfied by faith. Despair is satisfied by hope. Longing and attraction are satisfied by love and sacrifice. Confusion is satisfied by the truth.
And humankind, a question unto itself, is satisfied with an adequate answer: the “Gospel”.
This took me a long time to think about and write…so please let me know what you think in the comments!!!
If you like the way I write and the things I write about, you’d really enjoy my fantasy novel, Elithius!
It’s only 99 cents on Kindle and only $12 as a gorgeous paperback. Please check it out here if you’re interested!
Only 99 CENTS AS AN EBOOK! DON’T BUY ANOTHER PACK OF GUM AND BUY THIS BOOK INSTEAD!
The following 225-word scene is a sneak-peek at my upcoming book in Elithius. Let me know what you think!
(note: Ultra Malam=the Evil=the monster, etc)
PROTAGONIST: AETHYER GRIM
What is this thing!?
I grip the ground. Have to get up.
The monster steps closer.
I push against the ground, causing pain to spike through me again. My arms quiver; I can’t even lift my own weight. You have to! I scream at myself. My eyes fall to my sister.
The Evil is five feet from us.
An arrow slams into the left shoulder of the Ultra Malam. The Evil jerks backwards in response, uttering a harsh, furious growl, and grabs the shaft of the arrow, ripping it out. Where did that come from?
“Get away from them! Over here!” someone shouts. It’s a male’s voice.
“Over here!” calls someone else.
The Ultra Malam raises its eyes from me and Addy, its gaze alighting on a new target. I immediately know what the Evil is about to do. “Watch out!” I scream, forcing the words out. Or at least I tried to scream. I am surprised at how weak and hoarse my voice is.
The Evil vanishes into the air…as I expected. I wish I could turn around, to see what’s going on. Or I wish I could rise and help, or at least get Addy somewhere away from here. She’s already passed out…I hope she isn’t dead.
Because if she is…I’m not too far behind.
I black out.