Tucked inside three layers of folders on my Google Drive in a document I’ve titled “Notes” is the genesis of my “next big writing project.” For the past few weeks, I’ve been tossing in quotes and vignettes. I’ve written some introductory thoughts. It’s a project I’m excited about and want to work on every chance I get. When I think about what it means to be a writer, I think about making progress on that book.
Does that mean on the days I don’t get around to working on it that I’m not a writer? Absolutely not. I do loads of other writing almost every day in the form of blog posts, newsletters, essays, articles, Facebook posts, Tweets, emails, letters, and more. What if I counted all of the words as part of my work as a writer?
“As you think of developing a writing habit, realize that you probably already do write every day,” writes Ann Handley in Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Developing Ridiculously Good Content. “You write emails; you post to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram; you comment on blogs. Recognize all that posting for what it is: writing. And reframe it as a legit aspect of your daily workout — in the same way always taking the stairs becomes, over time, part of a fitness regimen.”
The thing about counting all the writing I do as writing is that I probably need to give it all the same attention, the same care as I do my very special writing tucked away in that hidden folder. What if I took all the writing I do more seriously? Would I become a better a writer?
Most likely. But here’s the real kicker: if all the writing I do is writing and I give it all the same care and attention as my very special writing, that probably means everybody I write for is an audience I should know and care about.
“We all have easy access to a publishing platform and a potential audience,” Handley writes. “We all have great power to influence, educate, entertain, and help — but also to annoy, irritate, and … sometimes … fritter away our opportunity entirely.”
The challenge for everyone who writes, Handley concludes, “is to respect their audiences and deliver what the audience needs in a way that’s useful, enjoyable, and inspired.”
If you want to become a better writer, if you want to give more care and attention to the really big and special writing projects you have planned, if you want to get better at knowing and writing for your audience, then do yourself — and your audience — a favor: treat all your writing, especially the writing you already do every day, the same way.
For the next few weeks, I’m writing my Resources for Writers based on principles from Ann Handley’s Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content. If you’d like to read along with me, pick up a copy of Ann’s book at your local library or bookstore. Or, if you’d like to support what I do here, order a copy using my Amazon affiliate link.