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Write for yourself

October 11, 2020

There’s a tension that you’ll discover if you start publishing articles. A tension between writing what the world wants from you and what you want to write about.

Thinking about your audience can paralyze you to stop exploring what’s interesting. Instead of exploring your interests, you get distracted by the opinions of others.

The worst effect of this is self-censorship. Not publishing articles that you think few people will read. This has happened to me more times than I would like to admit.

No wonder we keep thinking about the opinions of others. There’s too much society everywhere. Social media keeps us in the never-ending now, bombarding us with opinions as soon as we wake up.

Yet, originality is one of the most prominent traits of excellent writing. But, it gets sabotaged by constantly thinking about the opinions of others.

Thinking about what others might like is usually done in an attempt to grow an audience. But by chasing a big audience, the writing quality suffers. This has an opposite effect on an audience’s size. Instead of it growing, it shrinks.

The secret behind writing a terrible article is to try to appeal to everybody. It’s a naive attempt to maximize popularity. By trying to do that, the article ends up appealing to nobody. As many other failed startup founders will tell you, an average person doesn’t exist. By trying to appeal to the average, the opportunity to excel in a niche is lost.

Writing is an award in itself, and publishing is a form of disobedience. Publishing regularly is a great way to fight the defeatist nature of self-censorship. By doing that, you are already doing something admirable.

Chasing audience growth for the sake of growth is the wrong goal to have. That makes it less likely to grow, so stop doing that. Relax, and focus on your writing.

@shime_sh Hrvoje Šimić
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