Why write when nobody's reading?

Fri Jan 31, 2014

There is an obvious difference between blogging and an intimate late-night scribble in your diary. If you indulge in the latter you can safely assume that absolutely nobody will share in your angst or be privy to your confessions or guilty misuse of grammar and syntax. Writing in a vacuum can be a cathartic experience, but is better left to smolder in your bedside notebook or private blog.

When you write on the internet, you write in a public forum - make no mistake about that - even if nobody reads what you write, yet. If you become famous one day, your obscure little blog will surely explode with hits, and reveal all the juicy details about your personal life you thought nobody would ever care about but now every person on planet Earth cares about. Or maybe a future employer will google your name and come across a post that doesn’t jive with company policy and decide that maybe you won’t fit in with the corporate culture after all. So, when you write on the internet, do not do so lightly.

Now, I’m in the same boat as most bloggers these days. Google analytics shows me that I’m the only one who is reading my stuff right now, and that’s okay. It’s not like I’m actively trying to promote this blog, work some SEO magic, or you know, turn on the comments. Anyone who knows me personally would rather just read a status update on Facebook (which incidentally, I’m not wont to do). So if you’re reading this, thank you kind stranger, it’s very nice to meet you.

Perhaps you’re wondering why to bother writing in a blog that nobody reads. If you’re a compulsive writer, you won’t need any reasons. But most of us struggle to write. Not only is it mentally taxing, we are certain nobody will want to read what we write. We are sure that we aren’t good enough, or interesting enough.

Well, stop right there and set your fears and anxieties aside. Here’s the thing: Does anybody care what you write? Probably not. But so what? If you’re writing to please your audience, you will fail. First and foremost, unless you’re getting paid to write, you should write to please yourself (if you are getting paid to write but nobody is reading your shiznit, then you have bigger problems, son). So, without further preamble, here are eight reasons to write in public even when nobody is reading:

  1. Writing forces you to marshal your thoughts and present your ideas in a coherent, concise narrative. When you simplify tangled concepts or present a compelling story to the reader, you will improve both your written and verbal communication skills.

  2. Writing makes you a more critical reader. When you try to tackle various rhetorical styles (whether argumentative, or informational) in your writing, you’ll easily spot the ploys other writers use to delight or persuade their audience. You’ll see the true intent of the writer through the facade of words.

  3. Writing can be a meditative exercise that gives form to disparate ideas swirling around in your head. To clearly articulate something on your mind, you have to ponder all the angles and flesh out your fleeting thoughts into a concrete artifact. Doing so will return your mind to a state of peace and equilibrium.

  4. When you create, you’ll experience the “builder’s high” of accomplishing a meaningful goal and having something to show for your efforts. Plus, writing is a cheaper creative outlet than, say, painting or music.

  5. Your collection of writing becomes a record of your thoughts and experiences situated in a unique context of time and space. When you look back on these records, you can revisit nostalgic moments from your past or have a laugh at how utterly wrong you were about something.

  6. If you’ve always wanted your writing to be published, well, congratulations! Your potential audience is getting bigger, not smaller. A paltry 34 percent of the world has internet access right now. When the other 70 percent eventually go online, your words will be waiting for them.

  7. You can contribute to the world’s storehouse of knowledge. As any parent will tell their child: there’s only one you in the whole world and you are special. You’re an intelligent member of the human race with your own unique perspective to share with others - to entertain, to help, or to inform. Sure, just about every topic in existence has been written about before, but have you given your take on them all yet? I didn’t think so!

  8. And lastly, writing gives you a voice. Don’t be afraid to give your opinion. You may even live in a repressive country, but as a netizen you are a free agent. Don’t worry about what others will think of you - just be true to yourself and let your words brand you for the person you are - whether you’re an awesome human being or a dick, it doesn’t matter - just be honest.



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