Be Popular Without Losing Yourself

Don’t let conformism kill your writing.

write better by not fitting in
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons — It’s hard to fit in and it’s difficult to stand out.

At our core, we desire acceptance from others, whether it is in the form of love for another person or groupaffirmation as a way to achieve status within society.

Humans also desire to be unique, special individuals. We want to feel that we have value and worth, so we will try to stand out from the crowd.

fitting in makes your writting boring
Gaston La Touche, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons — See how bored she looks and notice the open book.


Since humans want to be accepted, we will also try to conform.

To make ourselves more acceptable, we will change our appearance and behavior in order for others to see us as someone who fits within the group.

This conformity makes people seem boring to me.

When I observe people, they are doing the same things that most other humans do in their daily lives.

However, there is a small percent of humans that do not conform. These individuals are the ones who are more likely to be remembered by history.

Back When I Lost My Soul

When I started writing here on Medium, my instinct was to study viral stories and try to figure out what the winning patterns were, and then, I’d incorporate these patterns into my texts.

mental hell bored
Elena Samokich-Soudkovskaïa, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

At first, it gave me the warm satisfaction of being a part of the group and the reader’s feedback felt great, but I realized that by trying to fit in I was killing my voice.

At a certain point, my head permanently echoed valueless texts generated out of a formula to success that had nothing to do with my personality.

I spend quite an amount of time articulating texts mentally. This is a precious time of my life that I spent meaninglessly putting together a puzzle of sentences that meant to rank well in SEO and to go viral: Bleh!

If you notice that you are changing the way you mentally articulate your ideas so that your texts fit in a certain model of success, I suggest that you rethink how you feel about losing the very quality that makes you unique.

There’s a way to fit in a group without losing grip of your literary voice.

how to write with a free heart
Victoria and Albert Museum, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons — Notice the free little bird!

Fitting In Without Losing Your Voice

Psychologist William James Said Here:

A man has as many social selves as there are individuals who recognize him and carry an image of him in their mind. We may practically say that he has as many different social selves as there are distinct groups of persons about whose opinion he cares.

As I mentioned before, it’s satisfying to learn the language of a group and express ourselves fluently in this code.

Therefore, don’t feel inadequate if you look back into what you wrote before and notice that you composed stories that look exactly like the other texts you see around on the net.

competence hierarchy how to write originally
TyIzaeL, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons — This graph illustrates the way to mastery.

Before getting effortlessly good at something we must consciously suck at it.

Trying to change ourselves to fit in a group takes practice.

By focusing your conscious attention on the language itself, the rest of the content of your writing will most likely be deficient one way or another. It really takes a lot of — conscious — practice to structure your writing in a way that is not natural to you.

But with enough practice, this activity becomes second nature — unconscious competence in the graph— and then we can turn our conscious attention to what is important: our genuine heart.

Once I accepted that I already had what it took to fit in with the group, my texts came to life as I redirected my mental energy into expressing my heart openly.

Humans desire to be unique, special individuals. We want to feel that we have value and worth, so we will try to stand out from the crowd.

I’d like to add that if a part of my text reads in an unorthodox way, this could be what sets me apart from the crowd in the eyes of my reader. I don’t look for unconventional ways of expressing myself, but if it surfaces I embrace it.

Free Mind; Free Heart

how to write better
Tony Robert-Fleury, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Now I have been writing in English — my first language is Portuguese — every single day for 5 months. This is a valuable time of my life and I believe that I spent it well.

When you write every day, your ordinary life seems to unfold like an article; like a Medium story.

If I am unhappy with my style of writing, then I’ll live through mental hell.

This is exactly what happened when I tried to change my writing to generate viral texts. However, with time this changed.

I soon became accustomed to the subtleties of writing to a broad public and I managed to free my mind from this “noise” because I realized that the structure comes naturally when I sit down to write, so I don’t need to continuously work on it.

This managed to free my mind to be focused on my heart and on expressing myself truly.

I don’t look for the best way to stand out from the crowd, and also I’m not trying to fit in. I now put my energy into simultaneously discovering and revealing who I truly am.