Pen writing on paper

It Used to Be Art, Now Writing Is Fraud

Writing has turned into a popularity contest wrapped in pyramid schemes.

Writing to appeal to others is a form of fraud


I’ve been writing my whole life, so I don’t say writing is fraud, with the faintest of hearts. Growing up, anyone who knew me knew that writing is what I wanted to do. Honestly, it didn’t matter what I was writing about; I enjoyed it all. In the third grade, we used to receive short prompts to create a two-page story from. 8-year-old me couldn’t seem to understand two pages. Weekly, my parents would have me cut down my ten-page novella into the two pages (sometimes three if it was a juicy ending!).

My father loves cheesy horror movies and one night he was watching Leprechaun. Around this time, my parents also introduced me to their computer. My first genuine experience with computers, at 9 years old, was writing a story based on Leprechauns. In my senior year, I won a state-wide creative writing contest.

Then, I completed my degree in Journalism. When I tell you that something ingrained writing in my brain at birth, I have proof. Of course, my imagination would run wild for fiction genres, but as I grew wiser, so did my writing. Despite my knowing and understanding that writing is meant to be my career, there were some who were less than supportive. Which is totally understandable and I’m beginning to see why.

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Why is Writing Fraud?

In the past year, I’ve grown tremendously and I’ve certainly strengthened my f**k you skills. Not to be mean intentionally, but I’m sure like most people, Covid-19 has put a lot into perspective and I think it’s important that I work towards a career that is going to make me happy. My daughter is in school; now is my opportunity to put myself out there and give my writing the chance it deserves. It’s time to make time.

So imagine my surprise after months of research and early work mornings or late nights brainstorm sessions, I have little to no results. Don’t get me wrong, I’m further today than I’ve been in my entire life, but I’ve learned some hard lessons, too. It’s unfortunate, but I must say that writing has turned into a popularity contest wrapped in pyramid schemes.

Pick a Niche

Once we’ve taken on writing full time, we have to pick a niche. Which I think has been the hardest part of this entire process! To limit myself to only one niche? So, of course, I chose the most obvious one to allow me the most freedom: lifestyle. My life is cool and interesting, right? I know some neat things, right? Perhaps people will find it interesting? WRONG. Sure, some dribble and dabble here or there, but not what I had hoped for.

Attracting People

If we’re stuck in the niche department, thinking about our target audience is a great way to start. Except that once again means we have to limit ourselves. We must tailor ourselves or writing to that group of people. This wouldn’t be so bad, except I’m trying to find the rule breakers like myself. I want to find the people who aim to be well-rounded. People want to learn a little about anything and everything. The people who get off on random bits of knowledge or entertainment. I want to attract people like me. Unfortunately, people like me spent way too many years rolling their eyes at the idea of a blog.

Buy This, Buy That

Sure, writing needs minimal equipment. A laptop will supply most of what we need. But why does no one talk about all the software that we need? No matter which route we take, there are basics we need. While there are free alternatives for most, nothing compares to the paid programs. Most people recommend Grammarly, but even the more enhanced version requires a paid subscription.

Compared to Microsoft Office, there is Google Workplace; however, most clients prefer to use Microsoft applications, which also requires a paid subscription for all the features. Building a website is on the cheaper side, usually less than $100 for all the fees, but also time-consuming. Setting up the website is fast and easy. Maintenance, content creation, tweaking and fixing takes a lot. It can also turn into a never-ending cycle of subscriptions for plugins if we’re not careful.

SEO practices is a form of fraud because it forces us to use words we normally wouldn't.

Writing Loses Its Authenticity

Blog writing isn’t authentic nowadays. Even if we exclude the use of AI technology, we lose our originality quickly for one simple reason. For those who are not too familiar with how blogs and most websites work nowadays, there’s this thing called Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Basically, writers choose specific words that we believe are popular enough to get us on the first page of Google.

As simple as it sounds, it’s a lot of work. Aside from the research to find those perfect words, we now have to craft our masterpiece into a tighter mold. By changing our word choice or phrasing to popular keywords takes away from our originality. Therefore, even when we try to create 100% original content, we can’t because we have to use certain words.

Artificial Intelligence

In my freelancing quest for the last few months, I have stumbled across Jarvis and other AI writing tools. These tools will generate articles, essays, books, anything after inputting a few simple details. Honestly, I don’t think I ever felt more insulted in my life. I like to think I’m open-minded though, and open to trying new things, so I signed up for a month. It’s an interesting concept, and it has powerful tools, aside from generating, well, my job, but I hate it too. My age must show with how bitter I seem because “a robot might take my job.” Overall, using AI takes away from the authenticity, the twang, in our writing.

Popularity Contest

Ranking on Google is not the only way that it’s a popularity contest. When writing, it’s all about networking. Of course, most people start on social media, but as someone avoids social media, that can be a problem. My other solution is third-party platforms that already have a following. Except I still have to build a following from the ground up. Which brings me to the next point.

Pyramid Schemes

It’s a good one, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a scheme nonetheless. Here’s how Medium and other similar platforms work. I have to get a 100 followers to make money. However, we’re only allowed a few reads per month for free. Ultimately, we upgrade to read more stories, to gain more followers. Hoping they will read our writing, so we can get the money back from Medium. Oh, but only based on performance, which means you might make more or less. Also, our money is also probably what pays the other writers.

Another issue with platforms like Medium is that sometimes there’s potential to be curated. Curated means they selected your article to be distributed, essentially advertised, to other readers on the platform. Except no one knows who does that? There’s no one to submit articles to, no one to contact. It’s like those Google bots who look for the keywords. Nobody really knows who or what or where they are, but they’re here and they are watching.

Sounds kind of creepy, but cool at the same time until I received an e-mail from Medium with one of the most terribly written articles I’ve ever read. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is also why it is a popularity contest. In the remote world, I’m new and it doesn’t matter how well I write. It doesn’t matter if we can craft the perfect sentence to recreate passion that we feel because if we don’t know the right people, no one will read our work.

More Marketing Than Writing

More goes into this career path than just writing, and sometimes it doesn’t seem like I am the boss. There are a lot of details freelancers hold out on and that’s one of them. I dedicated all my time to transition fully, and I get to pick the projects that I work on, but I have to find my clients. Meaning, I have to advertise myself or services and that is not what I studied in school. I studied how to write, not make Pinterest pins or Instagram posts.

However, I still have people to please. There are parameters I have to follow. I don’t get paid willy nilly. If I want Google or Medium to share some of their money, I have to follow all their requests. It’s all about appeasing people and appealing to them in a certain light to get what you want. I have news for you: that’s called fraud!

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