I’ve a shelf at home devoted to books about writing. I’d say I might even have two shelves devoted to those books now. I’ve read most of them and some are better than others. But the best writing advice I’ve ever received didn’t come from a book. It actually occurred to me one morning when I was lying in bed, not wanting to get up and do my job. Maybe it came from heaven, I don’t know. But the advice was this: Love your reader.
It sounds simple, but it isn’t so easy, actually.
Writing is something most of us do alone. We might collaborate on a screenplay or something, but with a book or a blog, we are alone in front of our computers, tapping out our thoughts. It’s not like the reader is sitting behind us, looking over our shoulder making comments. We’re pretty disconnected from whoever it might be who will ultimately be benefited by our work. For this reason, it’s hard to remember that, well, people will actually be benefited by our work.
Add to this, most writers don’t think there work really matters. I’ve met writers who have sold thousands of books and still don’t think anybody’s life has been changed by their efforts. There’s an enemy whispering in their ear, I think.
I wrote four books and sold millions before I realized I was helping anybody. Sure I knew people were reading my stuff, but I didn’t realize they were making better decisions because we’d sat down for a few hours and I shared my heart.
But these days, that’s about all that’s keeping me going. Just the thought that somebody out there might not leave their spouse, or quit on that book they’re writing, or change their career or find God. In all those books about writing filled with tips and tricks, I think loving the reader is the best motivator I’ve found. And it keeps the quality up, too. We do tend to put our best foot forward when we care about somebody.
So the next time you sit down to write a blog, just remember somebody is going to read it and be encouraged.