While I definitely think it’s healthy for people to have dialogues and get into disagreements — sometimes passionately — I also think those who constantly and solely bicker about the current state of affairs aren’t actually providing anything meaningful themselves.
However, this article tells that the amount of criticism of the genre of lifehacking — or self-improvement, or however else you’d like to label it — has reached over a tipping point.
Instead of nitpicking the current most popular writers on Medium, I thought it would be a better idea to share my ideas on what I think can improve.
I’d like to note that I’m a beginner myself and that I definitely don’t think I’m a better writer than most people in this community. I might even be hypocritical in some parts of this post. This is honestly just my attempt to contribute positively to an ongoing discussion.
First off, if you’re in the business of writing for the sake of gaining notoriety, be it for yourself or a brand, or just plain money — then no amount of writing advice can help you.
- Writing has never been known to be a get-rich-quick scheme without being completely unethical or incredibly lucky. Even then, it’s tremendously hard work.
- If you want to simply market yourself, angry viral videos are the way to go.
However, if you’re someone who genuinely wants to help other people — which I think is the entire point of this particular genre, then I do have some advice of my own.
Practice what you preach.
I think this is the most important thing to consider.
Don’t tell people to do things like wake up daily at 5 AM, or exercise every morning as an alternative to caffeine, unless you actually do it yourself.
Not in an experimental sort of way either — wherein you try it for a couple weeks then quit. That demonstrates that it doesn’t actually work long-term and renders it rather useless.
I feel as though there’s almost an ethical obligation for a writer to do this. If not for the fact that there’s almost a sense of fraudulence from abstaining from your own advice, but also how much more quality the work would be if had your own experience to pry from.
Quality is better than quantity.
Splitting up an article into separate sections is a good idea, don’t get me wrong. But just listing things off by number essentially eliminates the ability good storytelling — unless the act is being deconstructed, through satire for example.
The truth of the matter is readers are more likely to gloss over parts if you demonstrate that some of what you write is more important than others.
But try to integrate each point into one another. Mesh a cohesive narrative as opposed to a robotic list of completely isolated points. This is more challenging, but what’s the point of writing if we don’t push ourselves?
Don’t write about something that’s been written about in plenty of other articles — unless you can bring something completely new to the table.
Of course, there’s nothing new under the Sun. But that doesn’t mean you should just find the five most trending articles and rewrite whatever their best ideas were.
What usually happens is a best seller sociology book comes out with a novel concept which is then compressed and flattened by internet article writers that exploit the new information or simply are following the latest trends.
A good example of this is the 3 R’s of Habit written about in Charles Duhigg’s Power of Habit.
Simply put, there’s no reason for you to write about the benefits of cold showers. You’re not wasting your audience’s time, per se, but you’re wasting your own. Of course, if you’re crafty in the psychological game of hooking readers, then yes — you will gain readership from borrowing the most popular ideas. But you aren’t actually expanding your writing or who you are as a person. It does nothing except allow you to stay in a comfort zone.
Try your best to come up with original ideas.
The best way to create quality articles that will make you stand out is to write about things that happen in your own personal life. Be more observant towards your surroundings and how you think. Try to remember the advice you’ve been given yourself by loved ones, telling an original and true narrative is a powerful way of conveying a lesson.
By following these tips, you might find it more difficult to gain readership. Instead of relying on what are really just a handful of shallow tricks, you actually have to hone in on your craft.
It will probably take a lot longer to churn out each article, which is always known to be bad for an online writer’s momentum. It will probably frustrate you to see your stats not go up — or even diminish over time.
But in exchange for this, you’ll have a body of personal essays you can sincerely be proud of. You might call me naïve — or even stupid — for holding that as superior, but I honestly think it is.