Writing Corner: Lessons Writers Can Learn from Albert Einstein
How personal growth can help develop your craft as a writer
by Joanne Troppello
One of the most noteworthy physicists of the twentieth century was Albert Einstein, who developed the theory of relativity (e = mc2)—which is a key foundational element of modern physics. Einstein received the Nobel Prize for contributions to theoretical physics as well as the discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect.
As writers, we can learn five lessons from his life, career, and published works that can help us become better creators of our craft as we develop as individuals.
Mistakes are good
Einstein said, “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”
Making mistakes are a part of life for all writers. The sooner you realize that mistakes are inevitable, the happier you’ll be as you develop as a writer.
Of course, you need to edit, edit, and edit again—and not submit writing filled with errors. Learning from Einstein’s statement means that you shouldn’t be afraid to try something new in your writing—and possibly fail.
I’ve been a freelance writer for 20 years. I’ve written three fiction books and publish an online magazine. I started something new by joining Medium last month.
Sure, I’ve made some mistakes during the first two weeks like not realizing the value of writing articles and submitting them to publications on Medium, instead of only self-publishing. I made the mistake of jumping all in without first understanding how the system works on this platform.
However, those mistakes made the subsequent two weeks better. I saw a significant increase in views and reads of my articles as I learned from what other Medium writers were doing and tried to diversify my writing—even though I was scared to fail. If I never took chances, I never would have gotten one of my articles curated on my third week.
When you’re open to making mistakes and learning from them, you will likely be surprised by new opportunities that come your way and future successes in your writing career. Don’t allow mistakes to demoralize you. Let them spark a fire in you and hone your focus as you continue to grow as a professional writer.
Don’t fear change
Einstein said, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
You need to accept that change is inevitable and to succeed as a writer, you must be flexible and adjust to those changes. If you are continually doing the same thing and not achieving any success, something is wrong.
Don’t continue down that road. Be open to change. Otherwise, you can’t expect different results.
My first two weeks on Medium were not achieving great results. Sure, it was only two weeks. What spectacular results could I expect after such a short time?
However, I had set goals for myself and wanted to achieve them no matter what obstacles stood in my way. In that moment, I was the obstacle. I needed to stop simply writing articles and self-publishing them without really knowing what I was doing.
That’s when I realized I needed to change my strategy and start reading at least three articles a day with at least one of them on the topic of how to succeed while writing at Medium.
That change in strategy paid off. The highest article views I had during that first week was 26 on March 28th. After reading what other writers were doing, my best day came on April 22nd when I got 1,110 views after getting one article curated.
Being adaptable to change will help you as a writer on Medium and in your writing career outside this platform.
Do the right thing
Einstein said, “Always do what’s right; this will gratify some and astonish the rest.”
This is sage advice, especially for the writer. Don’t allow writer’s block or unrealistic goals to cause you to plagiarize—whether verbatim or another writer’s ideas—which will only derail your writing career.
Listen to your conscience and make every effort to do the right thing as a writer. You may read an article that resonates with you, but don’t sit down to start writing right away—especially if you’re writing on a similar topic. You don’t want to even accidentally plagiarize another writer’s content or ideas.
Do the right thing and respond to readers who comment on your articles. Of course, if you have thousands of followers and get tons of comments, you may not be able to respond to all of them. However, make an effort to respond when you can. It will humanize you as a writer to your following and help you gain a deeper insight into why your content resonated with them.
Einstein said, “Most people say that it is the intellect which makes a great scientist. They are wrong; it is character.”
According to Dictionary.com, character is defined as “the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing; one such feature or trait; characteristic; or moral or ethical quality.”
Develop your character as a writer by vowing to stay true to who you are and the values that you possess. Don’t write an article simply to get published in a publication on Medium or another magazine or platform.
Write what you know and what rings true in your life. Write your truth that will resonate with readers and then ascertain which publication it would be a good fit for—that’s how you’ll continue to grow your readership base.
Rise above obstacles
Einstein said, “It’s not that I’m so smart; it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”
If anyone ever told you that the writing life was easy and you’d soon be sipping a Mai Tai on the beach and be living the life of a best selling author, they were lying to you. It’s simply not true.
Many famous authors had to face obstacles. Agatha Christie didn’t find a publisher for her first novel until four years after writing it. Twelve publishers rejected James Patterson’s first novel, before he found an agent who sold it. J.K. Rowling was also rejected by twelve publishers before her first book was published.
I’ve been a freelance copywriter for twenty years and didn’t start working full-time as a writer until three years ago. The first 17 years were spent working a full-time job and writing during my lunch hour and when I got home and had some time at night before bed.
Nothing of value comes easily. Your hard work as a writer will eventually pay off, but you need to be willing to put in the hard work. Sure, some people strike gold right away and an article they published went viral or their first novel became an instant best seller.
However, that is not the normal way things go. Trust me, I know. Just keep working at honing your craft and overcoming obstacles, and you’ll succeed. Those who stop trying, won’t succeed.
Own your mistakes and don’t be afraid of change. Do the right thing and embrace the character development that comes from following your writing dreams no matter what obstacles you must overcome.
Previously published on Medium.
About the Author
Joanne Troppello is an author, writer, and poet. She is the publisher of the online Christian lifestyle magazine, Mustard Seed Sentinel.