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If it’s not working, change it

Last night I started writing a blog post that was called ‘One of the problems with being a Scanner’. It was about how I’m in the process of thinking that my writing isn’t good enough to expect people to want to pay me for it. I ended up not publishing it, and instead writing about never quitting.

But it’s still been on my mind.

And then I went to browse my RSS feeds today in Feedly, and the first article there for me to read was about how ‘not everyone can be a good writer’. This bit in particular:

The only true measure of whether a piece of writing is any good is the impact it has on its intended audience.

Did it engage them? Did it move them? Did it change them?

All other questions are irrelevant.

I’ve been writing online for more than 15 years. I have a few fans that have been following my writing for almost as long as I’ve been writing. I’ve constantly been trying to find ways to improve my writing, so that it becomes more engaging, and more moving, and brings about more change.

But I haven’t been successful at that. My writing rarely engages the readers, rarely moves them, and doesn’t seem to change anyone. I rarely get anyone new subscribing to my updates.

Continuing to read this same article about how not everyone can be a good writer, one of the qualities that it outlined as being important to good writing was empathy:

…the ability to put yourself in the mind of your reader or your characters. Empathy allows the blogger or freelance writer to connect powerfully with their chosen audience.

And there, I suspect, lies my problem.

As someone with Aspergers Syndrome, it’s difficult for me to feel empathy with others. I can empathise with other people’s experiences if it matches my own experience, because at least I have some knowledge of how that feels.

But I can’t empathise with people who are feeling something outside of my own experience. And I can’t write about it either. I can’t write in such a way that I appeal to a great majority of people, because I can only write about what I’ve experienced. And most people have different experiences, and different feelings, all of which are outside of my own.

I find it difficult, if not impossible, to write about something I haven’t experienced, in a way that can engage, move or changes someone.

I’ve been trying for a long time.

I get very little engagement from what I write. I get an average of 60 unique people a day finding my site. That’s almost 2000 unique people a month. Almost none of them leave a comment, so almost nothing I write is engaging.

I can only go from the results.

Yes, I know that some of you are engaged, and some of you respond and place comments. And you should know I greatly value and appreciate that. But most people aren’t so engaged.

And it seems to be because I’m unable to empathise with the majority of people; I’m unable to put myself in other people’s shoes and understand what’s important to them. I can only understand what’s important to me, and that’s exactly what I’ve been writing about.

What’s important to me isn’t important to most people. It’s important to some of the people, and those people have stuck with me over the years (thank you!). But you’re not the majority.

So I’m coming to some clearer understandings about how I should proceed.

A year or two ago I made a decision to give up my desire to be a professional photographer, because after 20 years of trying to become one, I realised I wasn’t any better after 10 years with a digital camera than I was at the beginning. So I decided to be a hobby photographer instead, and just enjoy myself without worrying where it was taking me.

I think I’m going to have to do the same with my writing. If I can only appeal to a very small group of people, then that’s what I’ll have to accept, and work with. I’ll say to myself exactly the same kind of thing when I gave up photography.

I’m not a good writer. Maybe I’ll become one in the future. But right now I’ll just forget about being a good writer and just be a writer.

I’m also going to forget about building a community. I’m trying too hard. I’m asking for too much, and I’m not in a position to be able to give what I’m trying to give.

Effective immediately, I’m closing the forum. I’m removing it from this website. I’m also ending the premium subscriptions, and will just return to normal subscriptions. I’ll be refunding the money for those who have paid in advance.

I can’t charge money for something that I don’t think is providing enough value to people. There’s lots of free stuff here which will be of value enough.

It’s all well and good to ‘never quit’, and I’m certainly not quitting. I’m just changing what I do, and changing my expectations. My writing will continue. Seeking payment for it will not.

Thank you for your support, I really appreciate it.

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