Saturday, 6 April 2019

Writer's Update: It's The Easiest & The Hardest Time To Be A Writer

I'm still fairly quiet in Blogosphere, as I'm focusing my efforts on editing my books. Aside from my biggest problem, which is creating more new stuff than I ever finalise from the panolply of old stuff, I'm making quite good progress. I thought I'd take a break this morning, as the following thoughts about being a contemporary writer entered my head.

I don't know much about modern fiction (I'm a classics man), but when it comes to non-fiction, it looks to me like it has never been easier to be a writer, and it has never been harder either. Everyone knows why it has never been easier: the Internet has given us the best tools we've ever had for successful writing - increased knowledge, a wider platform, and more ways to become a widely read author. But those are the same tools that have also made it harder than ever before to be a successful non-fiction writer, because a combination of greater competition and more ubiquitous and intense scrutiny has greatly increased the required standard for academic writing that is sold as popular social science.

This generation more than any other is a generation in which the anachronisms of Thomas Carlyle's Great Man theory - that history is written by the impact of a minority of charismatic and powerful men - have been well and truly put to bed. Nowadays, pretty much everyone is a writer of some sort (even if it's just publically sharing a thought or making comments on social media) and everyone is a critic too. Widely read authors receive thousands of comments, as the readers seek to obtain parity with the author, and in many cases supersede them with their wit and intelligence.

Intellectual endeavours have been more widely collectivised and democratised, while at the same time specialised research has become so interconnected within international fields - it is harder than ever before to write anything truly remarkable that does not trespass on other people's toes. Given that almost every field is awash with expert analysis resulting from years or decades of rigorous research, it is hard for an individual writer to produce anything that covers a broad and complex domain of thought that is at the same time seminal and ground-breaking.

For writers looking to make a big impact, the challenge has never been greater!