A funny thing happens to writers when they begin to think about their audience.
I like to call it “blog pimping.”
(Just kidding, I’ve never called it that before. I’m just thinking about you, my audience, and all the things that were rolling around in my head earlier and how to get them back out now that my coffee has pretty much worn off and I’ve done eighty billion other tasks.)
But yes, back to blog pimping. From an editorial standpoint, it sucks. From a reader’s standpoint, it sucks.
It’s not so hot on the writer’s end either. It’s the writing equivalent of faking an orgasm; it doesn’t really make anyone involved truly happy.
It’s when we are so focused on a particular outcome that we want from our writing, from our audience, that we write ourselves right out of it.
I’ve done it. You’ve probably done it.
There are those moments where we want to make something occur a certain way, and so we force it. And, predictably, it might do well, if doing well means lots of people click on the link and look at the sexy photo or watch the funny cat video. But then what? Who cares? It vanishes into the abyss of the internet, never to be thought of again.
But hey, at least it was Popular, right?
If you’ve spent more than a few minutes on the internet, you know that two things equal instant blog popularity:
(And on elephant, vegans are hot too. If you put together a blog that was all pictures of sexy vegans holding kittens, you’d be golden. P.S. To all sexy kitten-owning vegans, send me your pictures for our upcoming segment.)
So what’s my point here and do I have one?
If you want to be write a blog that will actually touch other humans, it’s time to let go of the sex and kittens and open a vein.
There’s that thing, that person, that idea that you just can’t stop thinking about—that’s what you need to write.
When it takes hold, and won’t let go—that’s what you need to write.
When you don’t know if you can write about it, it feels like too much, too raw, too honest—that’s what you need to write.
When you find yourself mumbling as you drive, in the shower, in your sleep—that’s what you need to write.
When you find yourself at your keyboard and it’s pouring out of you and you really don’t give a fuck how many views it gets because it’s true and it’s yours and if it touches one other person and is real to them too, it’s enough—that’s what you need to write.
Write it like a letter that some small part of you needs to remember, the things you have forgotten and need to hear again.
Write it like a love story, to the one who got away, the one you never met, the one sitting on the other side of the room.
Write it like a list, to tattoo on your arm, of all the things you’ve left behind.
Write it like a poem, to whisper, as you’re falling asleep.
Write it as a treatise, a declaration; write it completely—don’t leave anything out.
Write it until it’s finished, because you must write it, and more will come tomorrow.
Not every day is full of inspiration that rips you up and down or fills you until you burst.
Not everything we write is that.
But if we can let go of our audience a bit, and listen to the audience of one, on the inside, we will write what’s true. When we make a practice of writing what’s true—whether it’s about sex or kittens or yoga or politics or vegan soup—then it keeps on coming.
If we practice writing what’s true, it doesn’t matter whether one person reads it or 1000 people read it. It will have a life of its own, this bit of blood we let out into the world through wires and bytes. It will be alive. It will be real.
If you want to write the best blog in the world, write the things that won’t stay unwritten.
hot on elephant
The 4 Stages of a Good Divorce. A Letter to my Children: You do not come from a Broken Home. These People are Rare Gems—Keep Them, Fight for Them, don’t Give Up on Them. Mom, can I Call her Mom, Too? Jon Stewart makes first appearance since retiring—”it’s not your country.” Waylon shares 10 transformingly beautiful Quotes about Love. 40 Things I’ve Learned in 40 Years. Why your Yoga Goals are (Probably) Irrelevant, if not Downright Dangerous. Dear Woman in the White Car at Margaritas Mexican Grill in West Memphis, Arkansas on July 15th, 2012. How I Raise My Dying Son.