Writers Cannot be Niche Imprisoned
Absurd Advice To Be Ignored
If you frequent Medium more than occasionally, you'll doubtless have seen swaggers of bloggers dispensing pearls of ignorance which they fondly imagine is writing advice.
Or, if you're me, you’ll spot their titles, subtitles and occasionally the first line of whatever they’re endorsing before rolling your eyes and clicking away.
One piece of particularly useless advice, oft repeated, is to find a niche and plug away at it.
Whether that’s good advice for money making or not, I do not know.
But what I do know is that it’s useless advice for writers. You might as well advise us to suddenly lose one of our four senses. Writers can’t comply with that demand. Bloggers don’t know that, of course. Because bloggers can’t be writers, although writers can, when needs must, be bloggers.
Writers write because it is who we are. Because the muse knocks insistently at the door of our inner eye until it opens and a dark flower blooms. Because the words scrabble and scramble to be free, because they itch to escape through our fingertips. Because we are enraged, enervated, radiant, ecstatic, joyful, hateful, anguished. Because we must rhapsodise.
Because we must.
I’d write even if it became illegal to do so, scribbling on stolen paper in a darkened room in an empty house, an escapee from The Ray Bradbury Theatre.
In one of those pleasing moments of serendipity, I just read an article which expressed the necessity of creation far better than I can.
Of course, writers can write blog posts about matters of no particular interest to them, issues of public concern, mainstream attractions. That’s how many earn their bread and butter.
Much of my work here is fairly humdrum and I have much I am writing that has never seen the light of Medium, and likely never will.
But telling a writer to limit their writing to a niche audience so they can better monetise themselves is a nonsense.
Tell birds not to fly. Tell rain to fall upwards.
Writers write. They write whether they are paid for it, whether they receive acclaim or hatred for it. They write about whatever peculiarity or glittering oddity becomes caught in their mind net. It simply wouldn’t occur to a writer hack off their wings so they might be stuffed into a cage and be fed breadcrumbs, however rich the crumbs.
Bloggers blog. Blogging can be pleasing enough, but compared with writing it is plodding dullness. It’s walking home uphill laden down with bags on a rainy day, contrasted with running downhill in the sunshine with the wind at your back. Blogging is the poor relation of writing.
How do you know if you’re a blogger and not a writer? One large clue would be finding yourself agreeing with the notion of regimenting your activity and limiting your field to better please a potential audience.
So the next time you see a blogger flogging the notion of finding your market and sticking to it, have a little pity for them. They are blindfolded and hogtied in a dazzling gallery of delights.
And as those without tastebuds cannot understand the sumptuous satisfaction of delicate flavours, they will never understand that writers write because writers write.
Because we simply have to.
Alison Tennent, Queensland, Australia, July 2021 Copyright Alison Tennent 2021, all rights reserved. Scottish by birth, upbringing and bloodline, Australian by citizenship. If you’re reading this anywhere but The Garrulous Glaswegian, Vocal+ or Medium, this work may have been plagiarized.