Each week, Evan Peterson rounds up stories from across the Web that scribes of all stripes should check out.
This week, we remember that writing is hard work for a reason. Resolve is tested. Synapses are firing in the brain. Putting words together to create a story is a challenge. And according to new research and the opinion of one writer, it's not so different from playing an instrument or running a marathon.
Also, you might want to think about fashion blogging.
Your brain on writing
The reason writing is not always fun is that it takes brain power and energy. You could copy something down all day, but thinking through it and transmitting those thoughts to a screen—that takes work.
A German researcher recently studied just how much energy writers use when they're creating something, and he found something interesting—if not entirely concrete. New writers and experienced ones use different parts of the brain when composing something, suggesting the more you practice, the less you have to think.
But as one critic of the research suggests, the paper didn't compare how different kinds of writing work out the brain. Is writing a news story the same as writing fiction, for example? Does it matter?
The science behind viral content:
It might be helpful to know how a writer thinks, but knowing what an audience thinks is priceless. There's a science to that, too, as it turns out. Jeff Goins talked with marketing professor Jonah Berger about his new book covering why things catch on. Berger finds there are six principles driving popular content, that it's not about influencers finding your work, and that offline work can be just as valuable as online content. There's a lot more to it than a snappy headline, thank goodness.
Running and writing:
Reading this piece from author and creative writing professor Rachel Toor makes you realize just how much the mental process behind running and writing are about the same. They're both things that hurt when you're doing them and the only reward is at the end, when you've finished what you set out to do. Toor writes:
I know that any valuable achievement will require that I make myself uncomfortable and may well hurt. I’ve learned to recognize the pain: "Here we are again. This is the part that sucks. This is the place where I want to give up."
I would go as far as to say all writers should become runners, especially if you don't like running. It's not about getting in good physical shape. Wrapping up your story before deadline will seem a little easier—and possibly more rewarding—after you've put yourself through an intense jog around the neighborhood.
Quit your day job:
Fashion blogging full-time can make you up to $1 million a year, according to a new report from Women's Wear Daily. Through affiliate deals, ad sales and even appearance fees, some fashion bloggers are raking it in, and living pretty comfortably. How comfortably?
Comfortably enough, in fact, to have been able to turn down a six-figure editorial job offer from a major publication, as well as an offer from a major brand to design three bags for $75,000.
The lesson here isn't to learn and write about fashion, but that it might be worth it to write on your own and make a living as a correspondent in a niche field that interests you. It's a case study in brand building for writers.
Evan Peterson is a writer based in Chicago, and the editor of OpenMarkets magazine at CME Group. He's on Twitter at @evanmpeterson.