“You are what you write.”
There’s an interesting story behind these five words. I once aspired to become a famous Internet blogger, and thus I blogged every day for 30 days to set a habit. I followed the rule, “quantity vs quality.”
Sometimes, quantity trumps quality, especially when it comes to Internet marketing. A blog posted only in one place has only one chance to be viewed. However, syndicating multiple blog posts to multiple websites increases the chances of your name getting out there. For many Internet marketers, writing blogs is simply a means to the end–which is to make sales. Quality wasn’t necessarily important as long as it wasn’t terrible.
That being said, it was extremely difficult for me to blog every day. I never knew what to write about. I wasn’t that interested in my niche. So I sacrificed quality for quantity.
After two weeks of grueling pain through writing uninspired pieces, I reread a few of my blog posts (many of which were written with very little sleep) and thought to myself, “If I didn’t know Rasheed, and I read this blog post, would I think he’s a cool guy?”
The answer was “no.” My blog posts were written with an ulterior motive–to sell. Many were written for the sole purpose of having something to attach my signature to, which of course always included an affiliate link.
Now, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with writing to sell. Products must be sold, and writers are required in order to create sales copy. Sales pages are extremely profitable, even if they are terrible. But there’s a difference between writing to sell and writing to share ideas. When you’re writing to sell, you often put aside the eloquence you would otherwise have if you were writing merely to express ideas. After all, eloquence doesn’t necessarily solve people’s problems–potential customers want to know what the product can do for them. Eloquence rarely has a place in a sales letter, and that’s fine. Right tool for the right job. But if you’re writing to express ideas, then the quality of your writing needs to reflect the ideas you wish to convey. If you don’t treat it seriously, it might show that the ideas you want to convey might not be too important to you.
It came to the ultimate question–knowing that I only have a finite amount of time to work on writing, did I want to work on writing uninspired sales-y blog posts that I never enjoyed writing, or did I want to work on writing thought-provoking essays that I can proudly show to an employer or a friend?
The fact of the matter is, I was representing myself with my words. These half-assed blog posts were nothing that I would email to someone I’d just met and say, “look what I just wrote!” And that’s when I realized–I am what I write.
Since then, I’ve held on to that creed. I’m a writer–I need to take pride in my craft. A piano player will never play a song mediocrely at a recital. As writers, everything we publish publicly is our recital. The world is free to view our work. And if that is the case, then we must show that we take our craft seriously.
Of course, nothing can ever be perfect, but we write to express ideas to share with the world. Ideas are meant to be imperfect. The perfect idea always begins with an imperfect idea that is fleshed out. Once upon a time, it seemed insane to even think that Wal-Mart could ever by contested in retail. Which is why Amazon did not start as an online retail store–it started as a simple online bookstore. That’s not extremely revolutionary, but it was a start. That idea eventually evolved into what is now present-day Amazon.com–retail giant that is putting Wal-Mart on its toes.
So that is where my first important truth comes from. I am what I write–I want to be known as a good writer rather than a good salesperson. Everything I write is a tiny snippet of the inner workings of my brain. If I can’t be proud of showing that tiny snippet of myself, I may as well not show it at all.