Writing for an audience is one of the most important things you must do to make your blog (or book, or twitter post or anything) successful, but I really do miss when readers were just a concept and not real people with real names, real faces and real criticism.
I was reading Girl Lost in the city’s post I miss writing for no one a couple of days ago, and it reminded me of just how good it was when I wrote for someone I thought just probably existed, not ‘someone’ that I know does.
Now, that’s all changed. Knowing who my readers (might be) are, I’ve become super-critical of absolutely everything I produce and a negative comment can genuinely make me consider whether or not I want to keep going.
I distinctly remember that writing for that someone was easy; in the past I could easily bang out five blogs in a single sitting and for more than eight months I managed to post something every single day. I didn’t really care if anyone was reading, although I knew that at least a few were.
Now I couldn’t possibly post every single day because one post now takes a good couple of days to incubate in my mind before there’s a good couple of hour of writing to turn it into something I don’t mind other people seeing.
My writing process now, after years of very harsh self-critique, takes inspiration from Stephen King’s drawer method: posts sit for at least a day before I re-read them to check that my argument makes sense, and that there aren’t any silly typos left.
I’d say I was a massive failure at both.
I regularly publish posts with multiple ‘silly’ mistakes in them and my arguments regularly don’t make sense either, but it’s the former that really gets at me.
The way our brains are wired makes self-editing really tough, but I do have to wonder why I’ve not managed to improve over the years and why I still manage to type completely different words to what I think I’ve typed, and fail to notice that I’ve said the same thing in two different ways in two adjacent paragraphs. I just do, and it’s really frustrating.
In his book On Writing, King describes the methods by which he creates fiction novels. A manuscript should take a season to write, he says. Then he will put a physical copy of it in a drawer and forget about it for at least six weeks. Stacey Roberts
I’d say that ‘silly’ mistakes are the worst kind you can make and that’s not just because they’re the ones I can hear my mother shouting at me for making.
Think about it: what do you think when you spot someone has typed ‘their’ instead of ‘they’re’, or when you read something with an ‘an’ where there should be an ‘and’? Well, you probably think the person is one of two things: stupid, or slapdash.
A silly mistake is the easiest kind to make, the hardest to spot when you’re self-editing and yet universally they’re the most damaging. That’s why I find it tough knowing that I’m writing for someone, not ‘someone’.
Then again, according to some people typos and mistakes are just part of what makes a blog a blog. It’s a tough one.
What do you think? Tweet me: @picnarkes.