Don’t you want to see what happens when you don’t?
I never realized how good it would feel to help others with my writing.
I’ve always wanted to, but I guess part of me didn’t believe I could. I’ve been writing on and off for years, but I’ve never really felt like my writing mattered to anyone — at least not in the way I want it to.
I’ve had friends or family members comment the odd time or leave a clap for a story, but overall, my writing’s gone fairly unnoticed.
This week, though, the feeling that my writing isn’t important began to change. Something small happened; but for me, it was huge.
Within a few hours of one of my stories getting published, it had reads, claps, highlights, and even comments from fellow writers telling me how much it had helped them.
Suddenly, everything felt different. A flame had been lit and was now glowing, and I was glowing, too.
I’m finally learning how to connect and resonate with an audience, and it feels better than I ever imagined.
Helping others feels better than helping yourself
Whether I’ve known it or not, part of the reason I’ve always written is to help myself in some way (to understand something better, figure out how I feel, get emotions or frustrations out, share my perspective, gain clarity on a situation, etc.).
But what my latest article showed me is that helping others actually feels even better than helping myself.
When I write something I learn from, it’s exciting; but when I can also impact other people in some way, it’s exhilarating.
The fact that people liked one of my stories enough to bother leaving a comment or highlighting the parts that stood out to them is not something I take lightly. If you’re getting similar kinds of engagement, it’s definitely something to celebrate.
Don’t let those little wins pass by unacknowledged because they mean a lot more than you may realize.
Think about it: something about your particular story connected with someone enough to inspire them to engage with it.
Knowing my own reading habits, I know that something significant is often required to make someone bother clapping for, highlighting, and especially commenting on another writer’s piece.
Only something of value can motivate engagement
I’ve read so many articles that were really good — but they still didn’t necessarily move me to action. I read them, yes, and they were interesting and well-written enough to warrant finishing the entire story, but they didn’t stay with me long-term.
Then, there are those that just stick.
Those ones are harder to come by, but when you find one of those, you jump for joy. They are the ones that have the power to change your life (or in the very least, your whole perspective).
They can flip what you thought you knew on its head and turn your whole world upside down in just a few minutes. They can transform your way of thinking, and of being in the world, just by informing, motivating, encouraging, or inspiring you.
Those are my favourite. When I read one of those, I’m so grateful I found it, and I’m also grateful to the writer for writing it. Whether they know it or not, my world has become a better place because I stumbled upon their article.
When that happens, I’m compelled to act. Those are the times I get off my lazy butt and hit that clap button, highlight that passage (so that I can go back to it a thousand times if I need to), or possibly even go crazy and leave a message for the author sharing why their story meant so much to me or how it helped me.
You can change someone’s life by reaching out
Most of us read and consume other people’s work way more often than we bother reaching out, and we have all the excuses in the world.
We’re lazy, we’re too busy, we’re distracted, we’re afraid of being vulnerable, and perhaps worst of all: we think it doesn’t matter.
But now I know that it absolutely does matter. It can make a world of difference to a writer out there who’s been doing their best, showing up consistently, putting in the time to write, and publishing day after day — only to hear crickets. They may be just about to give up, and your comment or interaction with their piece could stop them from quitting.
I know this because sometimes, I think about quitting. I’m not even at 1,000 followers yet. I just recently reached 300, and I’ve published over 65 articles on Medium so far.
I don’t have a solid fan base yet, and I’m not getting thousands of claps or shares or hundreds of comments on any of my posts. Far from it. I’m lucky if I reach 100 claps on a single story right now.
As much as I know that metrics aren’t everything, it’s still disheartening at times. It’s frustrating to feel like it’s taking forever to get where I want to go. I’m more impatient than I want to be, easily getting caught up in the belief that building a following should be easy.
But then, out of the blue, a story I write connects with people in unexpected ways. And that’s more than enough to keep me going.
Your words can have more impact than you realize
Writing is just putting words on a page. After those words have been published, though, they have unlimited potential — and to me, that’s a huge part of the excitement of writing.
We have no idea what will happen to a story, how far around the world it will travel, who it will reach, and how it will impact others.
I can see a marked improvement from when I first started writing and publishing to now — and the best part is, it’s only been a few months. The more I learn and practice, the more likely it is that I’ll keep figuring out how to better connect with others. As long as I don’t give up, I can keep getting better, and so can my writing.
We all have that choice.
Your next story might be the one that changes someone’s life — and this is exactly why we should never give up.