Gurus, Authorities and Leaders on the Web

Photo by Foto Sushi on Unsplash

The internet has spawned a terrible problem which really gets my goat. You know how you can Google something in the hope of getting an answer to a problem or ponderous question? Well, more and more, this small exercise in curiosity is becoming a rabbit hole for Fake News, Fake Knowledge and absolute baloney.

The problem is that too many people who want to do business, to make money on the internet are setting themselves up as Gurus and Authorities on subjects and activities which they hardly know a thing about.

The guru who advises you on how to write your book, or how to start a lucrative internet business, is highly likely still building their knowledge base with which to get a firm grasp on the subject themselves. It often appears to be a case of the blind leading the blind — down a muddy path that leads to confusion.

I’ve visited a lot of forums and FB pages to see what’s happening in the world of writing and business. The ‘How to…do something’ pages and exchanges.

It appears to me that people love to give advice. It doesn’t seem to matter to them whether that advice will help another person or not, the giver can’t help but put their two-pennies worth into the equation. The results don’t seem to be important, either. Did the receiver of advice really solve their problem, did they feel better, understand better because of the advice given?

When you follow these forums and pages, you’ll notice that there’s always one or two people who pitch in with a well crafted idea about how to solve your problem. Look closely and you’ll see how similar their advice is to a generic ‘fix-it-all’ of idea. They then indicate that they happen to be a Guru on the subject, or an Expert. You what?

Check them out. Follow their posts for a few days and take a look at their internet footprint and you’ll discover that they are highly likely to be scrabbling after the green god — money. They are following instructions given to them as much as anybody. We all want a better financial life, right? But why does it mean we have to lie about who we are and what we can do?

Did you ever read or listen to a Guru or expert talking about how to write a book? Or, How to get into a lucrative business, just like them? I bet you have, I have.

They spend a lot of money and time building an audience specifically to sell to — the Guru author isn’t selling novels or box-sets, though. He’s selling his How-To course on how you can be a successful author like him or her. It takes a lot of time and energy to draw an audience on the internet, I’ve been trying for years and I’m still not there, where the experts and gurus are. I don’t feel it’s worth my time away from the essential work of storytelling to set up a business of offering help for money, with a sales and marketing funnel to tweak and monitor. To spend hours trawling internet forums, and to read and study marketing on the internet in order to sell something that isn’t my main passion. Writing takes time and patience.

Writing is an art — whether you like it or not. If you are a hack writer who churns out hard-boiled detectives for reading on the way to work, you’ll find that there’s an art to it. Humanistic activities all tend towards the higher aspirations of art. You can plan a novel like it’s a business venture, check and double check your tropes and character strengths and weaknesses, spend sweaty hours punching the words out into some form of readable pulp and then self-publish it. Then promote it to a hungry audience who may already be lurking in the shadows of the forums. And you may be successful at what you do. Really, good for you. I love it. But, don’t think it makes you an expert on everybody else’s writing, ’cause it doesn’t. You just learned to copy a formula that was already invented. You are not an expert on writing and certainly not a person who has been transported in the vestibule of light to the strange realms of wisdom and gurudom. Hard Boiled don’t do light and wisdom, let alone vestibules and stuff.

The point here is this, be your own Guru. Find the wisdom and the know-how of writing and business by doing it, mistaking it, screwing things up and then learning from your mistakes so that you finally get it right.

Be a self-learner. Read a lot about writing, from many different angles and walks of life. When you do this you will begin to think deeply about writing, especially your writing. It’ll make you grow. Growth is what you’re looking for, right? Or do you believe that there’s a “Hack” out there somewhere on the web? If you find a writing hack that helps you write 10,000 words a day, everyday, then you’re already getting pulled in by some wild-assed idea of “how to…” go about living and enjoying living life as a writer. 10,000 words a day, by the way, is guaranteed slops for the readers.

Living as a writer is a commitment that tends to be made lightly and paid for dearly. It’s not like saying, “I’m taking up hill walking” and then doing it now and again as time and weather allows. A majority of people in society have tried or will try to write a book. They discover that it’s hard and nothing planned makes it any easier than it already isn’t. There are no hacks for writers. There are plenty of ways to understand the seemingly complex ideas about how to write a simple story. One of them is to keep writing, don’t give up, don’t lose heart at the tenth round where you feel you could still fall, be a fighter and get in the ring each day, look after your boxing gloves, keep your mind fit and approach your work like a champion. Never forget, it’s only life, that’s all.

Life takes us along different roads. We tend to get excited about things and follow whims and fancies that pull at our heart strings. Along the way we’ll always, guaranteed, meet a Guru or two. How do we know they are a guru? Because they often tell us that they know everything about what we do and how to do it better. Strange isn’t it? Always bumping into people who claim to know all about our lives and how to make them better. How did they know we were suffering in the first place?

It’s human nature to suffer because we always want something. Basic writing technique, make your characters need something that is hard to get. Make them suffer. That’s what makes it real and relatable to the reader.

Those characters are out there on the internet, they suffer in their lives too, but want us to think that they have cracked the code or found the hack that will extinguish all suffering and anguish in our lives. They haven’t, a life that has stood still has become a stone. Life is in motion, fluxing, twisting and turning through the universe of all the things that interest us. All the things that promise a better path or way as a writer and a liver are wrought with both happiness and sadness.

Don’t sweat it, just do it.

Another article, Starting a Small Business over 50



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Sean P. Durham

Sean P. Durham

Berlin Notes — Writing about the Creative Art of Living. Writing & Photography, art, cats and creativity.