All you have to do is do something that no one else is. Or at least do something more often than others. Or at least better than others.
As I’ve said before, I’ve written about 100 short stories. Yes, that’s still true. I’ve written several since my original tally, but since I don’t know the exact count, I’m just going to leave it at 100 until I feel it is 110. And so on.
And recently, people have been asking me about my writing. Often.
What do you do? What do you write? Etc.
And I start telling them about what I’ve done. And it doesn’t matter that I’m constantly being rejected by publishers and agents. Because I’m passionate and do what I do, and I do it a lot.
If you do what you like often enough, then people will be impressed.
Yeah, I’m surrounded by people who are writing majors who hardly do any writing that isn’t for class. When I speak up and tell them about myself, because I will inevitably be asked, people are impressed. They smile. They raise their eyebrows. They even clap sometimes.
Impressing people is a shallow, silly thing. Yes, it feels good. Don’t get me wrong on that.
But here’s the thing: Impressing people just isn’t very hard. If you enjoy something and do it a lot, then people will be impressed.
But that’s not good enough. You have to work at it. Just because you’re doing it often doesn’t mean you’re improving. Just over the past year have I seen tons of improvement in myself. I’m always getting better. Slowly but surely.
That’s the stuff beneath the surface that no one actually cares to hear about. That’s why impressing people isn’t hard. They don’t want to hear about the hard work behind the scenes. They want to think that you crap rainbows and butterflies, that there isn’t effort involved.
In short, people want to believe in natural talent. Writing often isn’t considered a passion to them. It’s considered a part of your prolific nature. Everything you do is a product of your personality, not your work, to them.
Natural talent is far more impressive than someone who consistently sits down and re-reads their own work to find out what they’ve done wrong.
It’s also a good way for them to make excuses. They can say, “I just don’t have the amount of talent they have.” And then they give up. Because they don’t really want to try. They want to think that it’s just something that specific person can do. Editing your work, doing your thing proficiently is the boring part, the part that takes hours and energy. They don’t want to think that’s involved, because that would mean they have no reason not to do it themselves. If anyone could become the next big thing by simply looking at their work and trying to improve every time, then it would kill the magic of “the next big thing.” It would kill the illusion of natural talent, even though we as writers know that skill comes from a mix of talent and dedication. It ruins the image for them. And it makes them think. And thinking can be scary. So they make excuses.
But sometimes impressing people is something special. I recently got a compliment from a professor on the first day of class. I told one of my friends about this. And apparently this professor very rarely compliments people. That’s what you should strive for. Not just people applauding the effort that they think is a direct result of talent and nothing more. You should want to reach people who cannot be reached. You should want to touch those who will feel something when they read or hear what you have to say. Doing otherwise is pointless.