I’ve advised a lot of companies, leaders, and friends on how to promote their work through writing. But as I was thinking about it, combing through Eddie Huang’s The Pop Chef archives and having seen one too many aphorisms on Twitter, I thank God for granting me this moment of clarity:
If you’re not a writer, writing about your work is the best way to promote yourself.
If you’re a writer, doing interesting things is the best way to promote yourself.
When the product you’re promoting is your own writing, the solution isn’t to write more. It’s to make your writing better. And the best, fastest, way to do that is to write about something interesting that you did. And one way to do THAT, is to ingest a ton of interesting stuff and refine your perspective.
I say that about writing, but it applies to who makes outside or full-time income in the “content creation” business.
That being said, it’s hard to doing interesting things during COVID-19. It’s not like I can get my George Plimpton on and go immersive, that’s never been my cup of tea anyway. Staying sane counts; it’s not interesting, but it is healthy. Pusha T told me, wealth don’t buy health. (Yeah!). For me, and every other writer out there, the job is to:
- Read and share interesting, obscure, books
- Listen to or launch interesting conversations
- Explore interesting things on the internet
And to keep at it, everyday. It’s painful to try to come up with some new mind-blowing concept every day, but some of the keys:
Respond. Go read the best magazines in the world, that few people are reading, and pick the articles that resonate most with you and who you are. If you’re on a mission, signal boost things. Talk about why something is smart/stupid, somebody is right/wrong, and why you believe/don’t believe in something.
Remix. If you’re not writing about COVID-19 right now, then you’re doing something right, but you better be damn sure it’s a good story. Everybody’s trying to stay alive and sane, and boring stories have a harder time of surviving. Meme it up if you have to.
Document. Every time I get an idea, it gives me a burst of anxiety. I wish I was kidding, but I feel an impulse to write everything down. Before bed, before the shower, after the shower, during a HIIT workout video, whatever. I’ll remix Bezos, these are the acorns that will grow into a tree of a good idea.
Have fun. Fun is usually interesting, but it’s got to be original. I played the Super Nintendo pack on Switch this weekend, but is it worth a blog post? [Chris Tucker voice] Hell, no! Shouts to Pharrell, the Mr. Magoo of music.
Ghostwrite. If you don’t know how to say something in an interesting way, remember how your favourite writers write. I don’t go so far as to type the words out myself, but I know some people do just to feel what greatness feels like. Reading is enough for me.
Write in serials. Don’t be working on some masterpiece with no due date. If you are, make a version of it that you can ship today. (This article is an example of that.)