I find writing to be damn hard work. Sometimes the blank screen paralyzes. Sometimes the words flow, but they flow the wrong way. Sometimes you lose track of your own thesis. Sometimes you need to cut half the words you’ve got just to find your way to the end.
The written word, whether on the internet or in print, seems very permanent. Even though writing on the web can be revised or deleted, the internet never forgets. This is powerful. When I put my name–or a pseudonym–on something, I establish ownership. I think these words have value. I approved their release into the wild.
When I post here, I worry that I will bore you and you’ll quit coming back. This site will never make me any money, but you are paying me with your attention. I value this resource, and it is easier for me to lose than your money. I am writing for my own reasons, but some of you keep coming back. I want to make you happy.
When I write for work, I have slightly different concerns. I worry more about clarity and accuracy, which is hard in a different way. The people at work have to read what I write, but I also want them to get what I’m saying. I need those readers to know something or to do something. A different problem, but still very hard.
One other practical reason I sweat my writing is that I don’t want to be associated with mistakes. Even when I am careful, I fall short, and it kills me to find errors in past work. I am terrified to read through this site, because I will lose weeks of my life re-editing all 30 posts. I caught a typo today in a recent post, and it is making my brain itch just thinking about all the other errors past-me made.
As I talked about in yesterday’s post about hard work, there is no inherent value in writing, just because I work hard at it. If it’s no good, I need to make it better. This motivates me every day. Now I just need to figure out what’s good.