“Nobody Wants to Read Your Shit”

Published almost three years ago, Steven Pressfield’s (he of The War of Art fame) classic post, about the most important writing lesson he’s ever learned, still resonates more than ever:

Nobody wants to read your shit.

There’s a phenomenon in advertising called Client’s Disease. Every client is in love with his own product. The mistake he makes is believing that, because he loves it, everyone else will too.

They won’t. The market doesn’t know what you’re selling and doesn’t care. Your potential customers are so busy dealing with the rest of their lives, they haven’t got a spare second to give to your product/work of art/business, no matter how worthy or how much you love it.

But it’s not all bad news. Steven suggests three steps to help people care about your product/writing/whatever:

1) Reduce your message to its simplest, clearest, easiest-to-understand form.

2) Make it fun. Or sexy or interesting or informative.

3) Apply that to all forms of writing or art or commerce.

When you understand that nobody wants to read your shit, your mind becomes powerfully concentrated. You begin to understand that writing/reading is, above all, a transaction. The reader donates his time and attention, which are supremely valuable commodities. In return, you the writer, must give him something worthy of his gift to you.

Needless to say, I am still a beginner when it comes to selling myself. But I am learning every day. What about you?

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