I admit it: I dearly want to climb under my desk, put my hands over my ears, and chant “la la la” until I can ignore the changes in my digital world. I want to go back to the glory days of the internet when everything was shiny and new and I felt like I had a chance of keeping up with the pace of change.
Whether we’re racing towards our doom or turning a corner into a golden age, technology is changing.
I work with writers, hang out with writers, and teach writers. They seem to fall into one of several categories: those who are ignoring the technological change, those who are wondering what we can do with it, and those who are giving up on writing and taking up knitting.
I once heard Thomas Kincaid say that if you can do anything other than your art, you should. Art consumes the artist. If you can walk away: do.
For the rest of you, I want to make one thing clear: ignoring this revolution is a bad idea.
If we accept that the internet and our interactions with the world are changing, how can writers survive the change?
Step 1: Accept that the change is real.
I remember when I first saw a mobile device listed on the statistics for a website, I thought, “Wow! Someone actually thought they could go to this site on a phone!”
Just a few years later, and that thought is hilarious. I jokingly say that I’m watching my stats for when someone comes in on their toaster. Or their microwave.
It won’t be long.
Step 2: Embrace the change.
I’ve been spending a lot of time watching indie programming. My favorite is an old story-telling form that has embraced modern technology: roll-playing games. Shield of Tomorrow sent me into Geek nirvana. Callisto 6 does not disappoint.
But these story telling adventures are only the beginning.
Transmedia storytelling is here, and its influence will only continue to grow as technology changes.
If you hang out with those who make the internet, you’ll hear them talking about how the internet is changing. The very fabric of how we consume media is changing.
New devices are on the way. New algorithms appear every day.
Authors are reporting Amazon algorithm changes are killing their sales. Algorithms are at the heart of sales and discovery for authors. These algorithms must change in response to the authors who spend more time on gaming the system than they do on creating content.
We must continue to build our email lists and connect with readers.
One-on-one connections are still the best marketing.
But how we make those connections and how we tell our stories is changing.
Step 3: Create good content.
This is where writers have an edge on the competition. We are content creators.
How that content is displayed to our readers may change. How readers interact with our content will definitely change. Spend much time around transmedia and you’ll discover that consumers want to interact with the story world. They want to connect with the author. They want to drive the story in new and creative directions. Consumers become creators.
This terrifies some writers. We’ve been taught to guard our copyrights fiercely. I’m not opposed to copyrights, but I want to encourage those who are writing for the future to consider allowing your readers to engage with your stories on a creative level.
Don’t stop creating.
Understand: if you are one of the authors making a living by gaming Amazon or another algorithm, enjoy it while it lasts. But don’t put all of your eggs in that basket. Algorithms are about to take a leap forward with the addition of AI.
Content: good, solid, entertaining content will always rule.
Don’t let changing technology distract you from the sheer joy of your creation. You’re an artist simply because you can’t be anything else. Embrace your creativity, create good content, and enjoy the process.
Experiment with new technology. Have fun with it.
Surf the waves of content algorithms and enjoy the ride. If you wipe out, paddle back out and catch the next wave.