Is writing really enough?
X Marks the Spot
The intersection of the following ideas provided me an obvious path forward:
1. I’ve always enjoyed writing.
2. I’ve loved talking about the economy and international trade.
3. I have a knack for explaining complicated ideas to normal people.
I started writing and publishing articles about the current trade war, tariffs, and the economic impact of these actions. I’m passionate about these topics and I find it easy to concisely share this information in a digestible manner.
I didn’t find resharing the news on Twitter to be fulfilling. I wanted to explain the news was trying to convey. At first, I wanted to write, but I worried I didn’t have enough to say. After an important international meeting, my husband asked me a question and I rambled for 45 minutes. Clearly, I had a lot to say.
I actually found that writing was the easiest part. The next day, I sat down and wrote 2,400 words. I aimed for high readability and easily relatable examples. The hardest part was hitting the submit button when it was time to publish. I knew publishing this piece was going to be a moment of truth for me. Could I share my thoughts, my ideas, and my interpretation of the facts with strangers on the internet, or was I too scared of what criticism I would face? If I couldn’t publish, I needed a new career path. If I could, I lived to fight another day.
I published. I even posted on Facebook and shared it with my friends and family. Then I waited. I watched the stats on Medium… somewhat obsessively. Then, I nervously waited for comments. I got two. One was a rant on Reddit that I ignored. The other was a thoughtful comment from a friend of a friend I didn’t know. Neither one of these experiences broke my confidence. So, I’ve continued writing.
Being a Writer
Am I a writer? Like most new writers, I find myself questioning my writer status. I sit down every day and write a new draft or edit old ones. My goal is to publish two to three articles a week. I have a Trello board where I keep track of all of my ongoing articles. Rationally, I remind myself that continuously writing and publishing my work makes me a writer.
If only believing that was so easy; I write, therefore I am a writer. The nagging voice in my head keeps questioning this self-assessment. First, I ask, am I really a writer if no one reads my work? Then, I worry that I will never find enough people that care about economics and international trade to develop a following. These topics affect all of us, but honestly, most people don’t care about their household budget, so how can I convince them to care about the national budget? Then I spiral downward. I start anxiously refresh my Medium stats. Then, already flustered, I decided I should seek a large audience by developing pieces for major publications, but in my current state, I have nothing to say and terror overtakes me.
Finally, I stop and take a step back. I take my dog for a walk. I leave my computer at home and give myself time to unwind and stop panicking. Over dinner, our family discussion inevitably includes a question about a three percent stock market swing today or the next tariff deadline. My mind starts racing. My mouth can barely keep up. My passion and confidence is immediately restored. I jot down the highlights of our conversation, filled with new ideas for tomorrow’s writing session.
The next day, I start a new article. I follow some rules I’ve set for myself, with the goal to make my writing more readable and more approachable.
• Articles should be 1,000 words or less. Even Shakespeare couldn’t keep people’s attention focused on economics for longer than that.
• Include personal stories. Travel and personal experience help me explain complicated theories and are easier to follow.
• Talk about everyday items. Talk about products and services readers can relate to, not complex hypothetical examples you’d find in a textbook.
• Keep an informal tone. This is the hardest for me. I’ve honed my professional and academic writing skills. Now I write for the masses and using an informal tone is hard.
I’m proud of the new pieces. In a calm state, I’m able to logically see that my writing should be about starting conversations with people passionate about these topics, who I respect are interested in what I have to say. It’s quality over quantity; having the right readers is more important than having thousands of followers.
My goal is to publish a better story today than the ones I wrote last week. I want to improve my craft through more writing. Writing has many advantages. It helps me organize my thoughts, find new business, and participate in a community that is interested in the same things I am. I’m not sure when I will believe I am a writer. I hope it comes from within and not based on when outside metrics decide.
This was originally published at www.writingcooperative.com
Medium member since Dec 2018
I’m an economist by training & a nerd at heart. I founded Stratagerm Consulting. Learn more: stratagerm.com/signup