Daily Archives: May 5, 2011

Read much, believe little

I am broken, need fixing, I’m dumb. Or not. I’m a blog omnivore, so I read a lot of advice, thoughts, and beliefs of other writers and artists. And it’s a wide range.

The last two days, I’ve been reading about other people’s success stories about blogging and book promoting. (I have a tendency to read about what’s on my plate). Interesting what happens in my brain (maybe yours, too) when we read something new that we don’t agree with. We believe the other person. Particularly if we don’t know them. Because no matter what our experience is, surely the other person is smarter, richer, wiser, and a better human being.

I’m amazed at my own gullibility. “Content is no longer king,” says one blogger, and I gobble up his article, afraid that one of my basic truths has vanished. “The reader is king!” he proudly proclaims, “content doesn’t really matter.” Oh. And what is King Reader reading? Content. And why will King Reader read the content? Because it is interesting to King Reader. So, finish the circle, content is still king.

“If you are still doing book signings, you are over 60 and a dinosaur,” says another blogger. Her idea is that everything is virtual, and social networking sells books. I don’t think so. I’m pretty sure people buy books for lots of reasons, and a good reason is to meet the person who wrote it and talk to them in real life, if they are available. And that means I want to make myself available. Because people who are satisfied tell others. (Not as many as people who are unsatisfied, which is motivation enough.) But can’t I do both? I’m planning a virtual blog tour and a real event tour. (Signings are fine, but making art is more fun, so I’m doing art-making signings.)

Before you believe everything you read (I call this “the last person I talked to is an expert syndrome”) run it through your value-meter. I’ve been writing for a long time, and content matters. If an article is cheap starchy filler, I leave faster than a barefoot pedestrian crosses a freshly-tarred street.

My value-meter knows that meeting people face to face and hearing their stories is what made me write my book in the first place. I heard so many people say, “I’m not creative, I can’t draw,” while hungering for some meaning in their lives, it was impossible for me not to write the book.

Of course, I also learn a lot from reading blogs. And not just facts or behavior-shifts that I already believe in. I’m happy to explore new ideas, and I’m a big fan of change. But change for change’s sake rarely sticks. Change is fueled by current failure, pain, or general misery. That’s what makes change possible–what we are doing now isn’t working. What works for someone else might not work for me. And if it doesn’t match what I know to be true from my own life, it’s probably not true for me. My life is a big circle, and I invite a lot of people in. But it doesn’t mean I have to follow their advice.

Quinn McDonald is a writer, life- and creativity coach whose coaching practice is based on working with deeply-held values and, well, change.