Just a few weeks into this writing challenge, I’ve found that I’ve been enjoying it more than I would have imagined before, and I think I know why.
When I set out on this writing challenge, an honest inventory about why I was writing would have revealed an extrinsic motivation: I wanted to build a platform of influence, an audience, and me admired and respected in the same way that I admire and respect the writers, bloggers, and thought leaders I read.
Lately, I’ve found that I just come to love the flow of writing, the satisfication of thinking through ideas in my head more thoroughly, and the feeling of getting them “on paper.”
I have to give credit here where it’s due. A few weeks ago, I listened to Maria Popova of brainpickings.com doing a fan Q&A for Tim Ferriss’s podcast.
In it, she encourages aspiring writers to write to please just one person: themselves.
“Write for yourself. If you want to create something meaningful and fulfilling, something that lasts and speaks to people, the counterintuitive but really really necessary thing is that you must not write for people.
The second you begin to write for or to a so-called audience… you’ve lost the long game, because creating something that is rewarding and sustainable over the long run requires, most of all, keeping yourself excited about it, which in turn of course requires only doing things that you yourself are interested in, that enthuse you.
…If you do it for other people, trying to predict what they’ll be interested in and kind of pretzeling yourself to fit those expectations, you soon begin to begrudge it, and become embittered, and it begins to show in the work. It always, always shows in the work when you resent it. And there’s really nothing less pleasurable to read then embittered writing.
…I’m reminded of Vonnegut, who said, “write to please just one person. If you open the window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.”
Like Maria, I’ve found that I care less now about the numbers. I care less about who’s reading them. I care less about the audience, the platform, and the influence my writing is yielding.
I’m writing now for myself, and an interesting thing happened there – once I stopped writing for other people and started writing for myself, the type of writing I did changed.
Before, I really concerned myself with the extrinsic details – who was reading, what they would like, how “important” my writing would be, how big of an impression the piece would make.
And with all that on my mind, I was becoming burdened by the chore of writing.
Writing in that way took forever, and was a pain in the ass. And when the extrinsic results weren’t immediate, my motivation waned.
Lately, the type writing I’ve been doing has changed dramatically.
For the last few posts, including this one, most of what I’ve been writing has just flown through me quickly and relatively effortlessly.
I write about anything, big or small.
I’m comfortable branching out from just business or any specific topic. Life is fair game.
I write without the burden of concern with how “important” my writing is.
Writing in this way has become less of a chore, less painful, and far more fun.
And in that – my relationship with writing has changed.
I don’t dread it anymore. The quantity-focused “2 posts per week” goal is a forcing function that has forced me to write in a way that is simple, rewarding, and not torture.