What Stops You From Creating Content

Content Is King

Someone actually asked this question on Quora, and I gave my reply. I thought it might be interesting to see how the blogging community differs from the Quora one, since they tend to be more to the point and focused on facts, while the WordPress crowd seems to be more whimsical and emotive. Lemme know what you think of my answer to the question.

Why is the percentage of population that writes online content so much smaller than those who read it?

Filed Under: Writing

Why 95% of people will not write

This can only be explained as a journey. I’ve only started blogging about 2 months back. When I first started, I was scared stiff. My mind is total blank, and everything i thought I might post, sounded like a very bad idea. What if people don’t like me… what if… what if. 

The feelings I had in this single moment, could have stopped me from writing anything, and has likely stopped 95% of the world from writing anything. With that in mind, we move on to the remaining 5%

Of the remaining 5% – 90% of them repurpose content, and do not actually create content

These are the people who actually attempt to write. Like most people, I resorted to the Tumblr-style of blogging, taking other people’s content and posting in on my blog. Wheee I have a blog! 

Cute memes, gifs with inspiring quotes, lolscats, that was how I started my blog. And I believe this accounts for a good 90% of the remaining 5% of content out there. Reposts, repurposed, and represented content. I.e. Using content off the internet to create content.

This essentially means all social media content, 99% of all self-published blogs and online aggregators… that’s like 99% of web traffic right there.

For me, one month on, still slightly self-conscious. I started writing opinion pieces on what I felt about certain things, but never truly writing a full post with all original content. To this point, I have probably explained why a good 99% of the world does not create content. Which answers your question.

The last 0.5% – The journey to content creation

But the journey to creating actual original content goes even further than that. It’s even a longer journey than the one before this. Most people get stuck in the repurposing content department and stay there for good.

I have written my journey about trying to create original content in my blog, so click on it if you want to know the rest of the journey. But if you’re not comfortable, just know that it requires three things:

(1) An actual opinion This is the step that gives you the urge to create. Not just facts. This is actually more difficult than you might think. A lot of people are more comfortable just throwing facts around instead of having an opinion. You need to learn how to give the nay-sayers the finger and just write what you feel. Unless you’re a researcher, original content is usually just giving your own spin on things, not recreating the wheel – Your own recipe on fried chicken, your review on the movie, your commentary on the Obama Administration etc.

(2) An interest This step is the one that is the killer as mentioned above. What the hell am I suppose to write about? The ability to find a niche of content you actually care about will get you started once you develop an opinion. But usually people start off very broadly, before finding a niche. This takes time and people wander off course and never come back

Back to my personal experience, when I first started, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to write about, even when the interest is there. But I pushed through and made a few ambiguous postings. You really need (1) + (2) to get the first post cracking. But these two points are still not enough. Even if someone has the skill, he often goes, “oh someone is already doing it, someone is better at it…” It’s easier to just refer to someone than write the content yourself, because it is already there!

Thus point 3 is the most important one of all, but it only happens when you have (1) + (2)

(3) The URGE to write From experience, this only comes to you over time, and it is a surprisingly addictive process. The more you write… the more YOU WANT to write. For me now, what was once arduous 200-word posts, now become easy-peasy thousand word opinion pieces, which I have to slap my hands to stop writing. (Much like this post).

Anyhow, here are my blog posts in order from March to April so you know of my thought process. From scared blogger to person who can’t shut up.

Ramblings Of A Noob Blogger
Ramblings Of A Noob Blogger Part Deux
Midweek Ravings: Happy One Month Old Blog!
Happy Two Month Old Blog!

P.S: I’m not saying my content-creation is the top 0.5% or anything. It’s just my journey towards creating content for a subject I’m interested in. And I am actually trying to create content, just need to create higher quality stuff.

Update: I think I might have been ‘down-voted’ on Quora for this post. Just another of case of TL;DR. Such is the attention span of the world today.  

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Lee Child: Write What You Feel

Lee ChildWhile trying to dig up more useful guides and resources to improve my writing, I got this tip from an article in Writer’s Digest on how to start writing a novel. Of five they posted, this was the one that caught my attention.

5. Instead of “write what you know,” try writing what you feel

In an exclusive interview with WD, bestselling Jack Reacher creator Lee Child explains:

The worse [writing advice] is probably Write what you know. Especially in this market. In the thriller genre, for instance, nobody knows anything that’s worth putting in. There are three people in the world who have actually lived this stuff. And so it’s not about what you know. [Write] what you feel is really excellent advice. Because if you substitute Write what you feel, then you can expand that into—if you’re a parent, for instance, especially if you’re a mother, I bet you’ve had an episode where for five seconds you lost your kid at the mall. You turn around, your kid is suddenly not there, and for five seconds your heart is in your mouth and you turn the other way, and there he is. So you’ve gotta remember the feel of those five seconds—that utter panic and disorientation. And then you blow that up: It’s not five seconds, it’s five days—your kid has been kidnapped, your kid is being held by a monster. You use what you feel and expand it, right up as far as you can, and that way you get a sort of authenticity.

In my personal opinion, this should be easier for fiction writers, especially those who work in alternate-reality worlds i.e. fantasy, sci-fi. But I’m thinking out loud that it might be possible to work on a simpler level. For example, writing in the first person view of say a famous person or a rocket scientist. You could interview a real one, but how exactly do you write how he is feeling, particularly pertaining to his field.

In my last story Alone In The Crowd, I tried just that. I had a rough plot and a sequence of events I wanted to write about, then i just went with it. The story was taking place from the point of view of a slightly deranged writer who was firstly, a famous horror writer, and secondly, someone who was ostracised and bullied in school.

Since Stephen King’s butler hung up on me when I told him I needed to interview the King, and also since I’m more of a bully instead of the bullied, I had experience in neither. So I just wrote, and tried to put myself in his shoes, i.e. writing based on a feeling / bluffing instead of writing what I know. Since I’m writing about a writer writing, I tried to put my own head into his as well.

The result was intoxicating. Reading through the roughly 1500 words I’ve written last night, of which only 600 or so were non-crazy or structured enough to post, I found my thoughts drifting randomly from the mundane to the perverse. He could be watching paint peel off the wall simply to avoid eye contact, or he might be smiling at an annoying person who he has no interest talking to, while thinking about how he would kill the person in a story. I tried to use this ‘feeling’ space to touch on the experiences he had in his past (to handle backstory).

I wondered what would happen if I tried to write all of that drunk.

I tried to put more feel / thoughts into the story instead of a direct do/say/describe approach. Personally, it felt very natural to write, especially in drafting. Thoughts and emotions rarely comes out in coherent forms, and I just went with it, so bear with me if you do read the story above. I’m currently free-writing the rest of the story and am already up to over 3000 words due to the ease of putting it on paper (editing will be hell later though). I kinda like this approach and might stick with it in future.

So, what do you think. Do feelings and whimsical emotions in stories appear too rambling for you, or would you prefer the meat and potatoes of just the facts of the story. (Michael Crichton / Da Vinci Code sort of books would fall into this category.)

Midweek Ravings: Happy One Month Old Blog!

Fact or Fiction: The more you blog, the MORE you want to blog

blog

When I started blogging just a month back, the first thought that appeared in my head was whether I had enough content or writing in me to sustain posting in the long run. Back then, all I wanted was a personal journal that would allow me to express thoughts, opinions and the lessons I have learnt in a conducive setting. Blogging seemed like the most obvious choice since I wanted to post more than just words or daily entries. I wanted to play with whatever medium I wanted, and I wanted to write more than just my day to day life.

Unfortunately, the moment I clicked the “create blog” button, I panicked. Holy crap! What should my first post be! Taking a cue from a quick look around the web, the first post seemed to be usually an introductory post, so I created the About Me page. Then came the dreaded second post i.e. The post that is actually supposed to be content. I wanted this to be a writing/reading site, so I scoured my favorites and bookmarks for old reads that I have found on the web. This went well for a while, I made a few posts in my first two days… and then I ran out of things to say.

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