Rainer Maria Rilke advised in his Letters to a Young Poet that a writer, especially one just beginning, should avoid writing about broad topics, the likes of which required “a great, fully matured power” and that already had “excellent traditions” that would be hard to surpass. He instead encouraged the young poet to do the following: “Save yourself from these general themes and seek those which your own everyday life offers you; describe your sorrow and desires, passing thoughts and the belief in some sort of beauty--describe all of these with loving, quiet, humble sincerity.” If you focus on your own story, it will be true and good, because, even if someone has lived through similar circumstances, no one has experienced life in its entirety as you have experienced your own life.
In our digital age, the same holds true for any venture, and it’s encapsulated in one of the most cliched encouragements: “Be yourself.” But to attain any sort of success, the artist, the creator, the entrepreneur, has to practically employ this concept, rather than letting it be another "motivational" message. Austin Kleon, author of Steal Like an Artist, writes that it’s imperative that you not only display your work for all the world to see but that you become your own documentarian as you do it. Gary Vaynerchuk, a renowned entrepreneur, encourages one to take the “document; don’t create” approach to developing one’s brand. Not only does the method prescribed by these men help alleviate the stress of creating content for our social media outlets, they both highlight the fact that, although the roles literature and writing have shifted, the power of the narrative remains. Specifically, the power of your own narrative.
If no one listens, if you find yourself speaking into the void, take the encouragement of Andy J. Miller who describes the Forrest Gump effect. If you can do one thing for long enough, even the most mundane thing, people will notice.
And so I hope to tell my own, true story here.
Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet, translated by M.D. Herter Norton
Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist
Gary Vaynerchuk, Crushing It
Andy J. Miller, http://www.andy-j-miller.com/