Why Your Writing is Special

Nothing tempts an editor like an invitation: “Would you mind looking this over, and giving your input?” It’s like handing a kid a lollipop, or giving a reader a book. Conversely, nothing discourages an editor like disregarding his edits, or asserting that you knew better already.

In a lot of jobs, we grant professional expertise. We don’t tell the guy who’s operating it how to move his crane (unless we want it to crash into our apartment complex), we don’t lecture the chef of the four-star restaurant about his spice choice, and we don’t stand up and tell the defendant how he could be doing better. In most instances, training and education brings the professional authority.

Writing and editing are different. Everyone (hopefully) learned to read and write at a young age. Almost everyone wants to write a book, the same amount of people want to edit something that will become famous, and everyone has opinions about what word goes best where. Being a professional writer or editor could seem like being a professional grocery bagger; not too different from the next guy in line.

What’s a writer to do? In a market that’s burgeoning and expanding like an irritated puffer fish, trying to succeed as a writer is like trying to wax an angry elephant. Not impossible—but very difficult, time consuming, and frankly, painful. Everyone is doing the same thing, and trying to make their work stand out; but so often, it doesn’t. In a market that’s full to the overflowing, it’s hard to feel different.

But take heart. There is something different about you: You’re the writer.

And you are the only you. You know what your life has been, and you can write about it in a way no one else can. You think in a way that can be refreshing to other people, because they haven’t heard it before. This alone doesn’t make you famous—there’s also practice, natural aptitude, talent, writers block (lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of writers block), and hours and hours of frustration, trying, and hard work.

But don’t lose hope. After all this is mastered, or perhaps just practiced, your writing still has something special. It has you.

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