Want Influence as a Writer? Take Roxane Gay’s Razor Blade Advice

Roxane Gay was talking in her Masterclass series about how, as a writer, it’s OK to be focused and not try to do everything or be everywhere. I felt that. Instead of being a swiss army knife (which admittedly holds benefits), be a razor blade.

Slice, slice, everybody.

razor blade

Options seem to make sense given the writing climate, but many doors of opportunity aren’t always best

Out of everything I’ve been doing as a writer, trying to be a Swiss army knife all over the place probably has been my biggest mistake. I thought I was just opening as many doors of possibility or opportunity as possible. In writing that makes sense because rejections are so common; to get hits, you have to constantly be submitting work. And as publications get tighter on who they work with, it feels like it’s irresponsible not to have additional options lined up.

But I need to start cutting deep, preferably around the jugular.

Find your own way to cut deep with focus

Cutting deep as a razor blade might look a little different for you than for me. It might mean leaning into a niche, for example. But for me, it means taking one project at a time, rather than working on many of them at once. It’s been difficult to finish much with the latter approach, but I’ve kept doing it because I’ve struggled to see what to prioritize. Now, I feel like I have a better sense of direction. Maybe more importantly, I’m also starting to be more respectful of the limits of what my body can do. All of those 3:00 a.m. alarms so I could write before the distractions of the day have added up, and now I need to adjust.

The big piece of advice around this for you is, it might take a long time to be ready to pick up the razor blade. You might not be there yet. But when you are, you will feel it. When you feel it, act. Otherwise, there will be a serious disconnect between your real self and how you behave. The discomfort of that disconnect is not necessary. Don’t get tricked into thinking it is.