Why Writers Are the New Rock Stars (Finally)


I thought I knew everything when I was 18. Now, in my 40’s I realize I don’t know anything. I hope that’s the definition of wisdom. You know, I spent a ton of time trying to decide what to do on this blog. How to make it “different,” and not like all the others out there. In fact, I spent so much time trying to find an angle that wasn’t like every other blog out there I sort of got away from what the hell I’m doing. That’s what happens when you ingest too much information and lose what you wanted to do in the first place. It’s like using too many maps then forgetting where you’re going.

Now, don’t get me wrong, a lot of this is right on the money; the dark side of writing eats at me almost 24 hours a day. A great example is right now. Tonight.

Instead of writing the multiple docs I have to get done for work, another four assignments I do for clients on weekends, and two blogs that are starving for content, I watched a 3 1/2 hour music doc on The Eagles with a fantastic glass of Barbera. This is what I did even though I knew I had work to get done.  I’m old enough to know better. Yes, I fight it constantly.

Now, getting back to my point, I was so worried about my blog not just being another writing blog that I created what I thought might make it look different, it  instead of just writing what I’ve learned in the past 25 years of writing and doing content strategy for 6 different platforms. I worked up something entirely new in addition to what I was already doing. Blogs, side-gigs and everything else should be an extension of your expertise, with each supporting the other. Unless you’ve made a conscious decision to go in an entirely different direction as part of your mast plan. What actually makes it unique is the experiences, stories and very different and cool work I've been lucky to do. The failures. The successes. Everything.

While writing is still a huge part of what I do, there’s another side that’s so incredibly cool and is changing the landscape for every person out there: how people consume content. You all consume it daily and it’s on your phones, tablets, computers, TV, and will also be in your cars and every other thing you can think of. I’ve been in the middle of this my whole career both as a writer, but also as a strategist. Yes, I said I don't know anything in my 40's, I do know this stuff. My work has evolved from print through broadcast media, on to games moving to the internet and the evolution to mobile. Today, it’s all just content with every person expecting their “stuff” at their fingertips no matter where they are or what device they happen to be leering at.

It doesn’t matter whether a business sells software, real estate, or cuts hair,
it has to think about how customers learn about them,
communicate, and buy from them.

It’s that important. If you own or run a business, you better get your content and message firmly in place or your competition will eat you alive. More on that later.

The big thought here is that I am going to blend the writing experience of 20+ years with my content strategy and management work to help people learn how to create and manage their content as the landscape continually changes. Businesses are overwhelmed at how to communicate to their users and customers and I've been helping a lot do just that. It's strategy, long-form writing, blogging, video and overall storytelling. I've also taken a new job where I am writing much more targeted copy to help users get from one place to another -- quickly. It's like putting together a 6,000 piece puzzle on roller skates with a looming deadline and millions of dollars on the table.

I’m also going to try and blog instead of write. Yes, there’s a difference and I struggle with it. Most writers do. If you come from the school of “published writing,” you know you HAVE to turn in clean, perfect copy. Blogging isn’t like that — it’s more about quickly getting a thought out into the world. I struggle with that because of my longtime writing mindset, but it’s a powerful thing. I’ll probably end up somewhere in the middle which is even scarier. You guys will still be able to send me emails with a grin because, “there’s a typo in paragraph three, line five.” Ugh.

The lesson in all this? Stay with what you know, what you’re really passionate about and how you can help people. Don’t try and shoehorn your way into something that might fit, but only kind of. This is one big reason I don’t shop at those discount stores (that and the smell of desperation); the things you buy just don’t fit quite right. Eventually, they end up clogging up your closet and gathering dust. Not unlike an abandoned blog.

To wrap up: yes, I’ll be blogging about writing, but not how to write a book or how to get an “A” on an academic paper (I have no idea), but about how writing has changed in this digital world. And how you, as a writer can put those skills to use in other ways to shape how people consume and use content in the future. There has never been a better time to have these skills and companies are just starting to realize that we really are rock stars. We’re like the band that never got any credit until the world just couldn't do without them. Hey, we’re AC/DC!


Photo by Lee Byway (CC BY-SA 2.0)