The Power of a Like

When my editor reminded me that I still had not sent her a blog entry, I was tempted to write about what one needs to do in order to become a better author. Yes, it is slightly presumptuous to assume that winning my first publishing contract entitles me to write such an article. I am, after all, a beginner.

But then I thought about an incident that occurred back in 2009. This was a time when Orkut was briefly popular, mind you, and being an 11th grader, I spent most of my time online, increasing the number of ‘scraps’ in my scrapbook while trying to get more people to write testimonials for me. I was an aspiring author, and like most clueless wannabes, I decided to post a serialized novel on my blog. The idea was to create a riveting story told over several chapters, all ending with a cliffhanger. In my mind I was the next Charles Dickens.

The first three or four chapters were out, and the response was lukewarm, to put it politely. But just when I was about to give up on the story, a classmate of mine, Meghna Mehta, posted a scrap. She said, “The novel sounds promising. Looking forward to read more.” (I am, of course, paraphrasing).

That single scrap breathed life into my story. Knowing that there was someone out there who liked what I’d written provided enough fuel for me to churn out a few more chapters. Sadly I didn’t complete the novel, since I’m a skilled procrastinator, but the ideas kept growing in my mind.

I honestly believe that had it not been for that scrap, I wouldn’t have had the interest to expand my novel.

It’s funny how right now we live in a world where feedback is easier than ever before, and yet so scarce at times. You can share, like, tweet, comment and backlink a piece of writing. And yet so many of us remain silent when it comes to letting the author know our opinion. True, sometimes the piece may not deserve to be praised; sometimes there’s nothing much to comment on. But ask yourself how many times you’ve scrolled down an article, smiled, and promptly closed the window without acknowledging it’s merit.

Now this may sound like a subtle rant of someone who’s mourning the fact that he doesn’t get enough likes or comments about his writing, but it’s not. This article is about the immense power that you and I have as readers. We have the power to water a person’s creativity, to let it grow by feeding it bits of appreciation. We have the ability to mold art, to make it better and more beautiful.

But every time we remain silent, we do the opposite. We let art die. We let creativity wither. We let self-doubt, despair and indifference win.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m guilty of remaining silent as well. But every once in a while I remember just how much a single comment helped me grow as a writer. Today I hope that by reading this, you realize just how much impact your actions can have as well. After all, what we all really want are better books, movies, songs and paintings, isn’t it?

It’s both humbling and wonderful to know that we have the power to make that happen – one like and comment at a time.

2 replies on “The Power of a Like”

Agreed. Readers don’t often realise how much joy we get over a single comment on our blogs or stories – it makes me feel embarrassingly needy sometimes, but it is true that a single ‘wonderful writing’ comment can brighten my day.

But it stumps me when I come across something that I didn’t quite like, but didn’t hate either. I can’t fake gushing encouragement when I don’t like the piece, and I worry that I’m not qualified enough to give in depth writing advice, being a beginner myself. That’s when I usually end up not commenting at all, which makes me feel guilty, in the end.

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