I have a secret to share with you. I find it incredibly difficult to write on any subject to a particular reader.
I can write for hours if I’m personally journaling, but every time I attempt to write for someone like you, the public, my mind goes into critical mode. It’s quite a bizarre thing for me for two reasons.
Firstly, before I lost my speech to ALS, I was an avid verbal communicator. I could and would have all night discussions with friends; stand in front of hundreds of people and deliver a talk or teach a class. I could break down information so it could be understood, learned and useful to the listener. So, I thought making the transfer to the written word would be a cinch. Not so, but more on this later.
Secondly, I have an incredible interest in a diverse field of subjects. I’m not kidding. Natural therapies like exercise, diet, herbalism, naturopathy, bodywork, psychology, physiology, philosophy, martial arts, religion, cosmology, politics, business, history, warfare, ethics, metaphysics, mind, flourishing, culture, art, design, innovation, relationships, death, dying, disability, euthanasia, choices, education, chance, luck, fate, free-will, film, literature, mythology, etc.
The list can go on, but I hope you get a general idea. I don’t consider myself an expert in all of these, but I’m very proficient at a few and quite informed on most to have a reasonable, rational opinion.
The thing I’m finding, however, is that when talking about these subjects to someone, the issue evolves quite organically to a focused subset of criteria in a fluid Q&A format. It’s adaptive and particular to the person(s) I’m talking to. There’s a bi-directional flow as a conversation should be.
Writing about a subject is another realm altogether because I’m writing for a variable audience, which could mean one or a thousand readers. Therefore, one has to try to predict upfront what that audience is: a) Interested in and b) Questioning what I write with a “So What?” So a small 500 – 1000 word article could potentially explode to 5,000 words and above.
In my blog program in WordPress, I have about 10 unfinished pieces. They’re unfinished because they started to evolve beyond pertinence. Every single time as I’m writing I’m also simultaneously arguing with myself on how to determine what the reader will find necessary. Will they even find it interesting? Do they really want to read about this (Such as this actual article)? Are they hoping to receive bullet point summaries or do they also the need some argument to back it up.
The next problem I ponder is ‘voice’. The whole point of written communication is for the receiver to accept or receive the message. But the writing style can turn someone off to the first paragraph. Should I be conversational and casual (as I am here), or formal and argumentative?
However, overwhelmingly the reason I have difficulty writing about what I know on an online platform with thousands of readers, is confidence and uniqueness. That is, there is so much excellent information on the web, on YouTube, forums, blogs, etc. on the subjects I want to write about, that I think: “Why would they want to read my stuff when there’s so much better out there than I could write?” I find this barrier particularly difficult to overcome.
Phew. I’m glad I got that off my chest.
Someone in my position doesn’t get to communicate with others much anymore. To connect with others via a blog then is a mutually beneficial situation. You can get some useful information from someone you can trust, and I get to feel engaged with my subscribers. That’s my goal anyway.
Do you blog or write for an audience? How do you decide how much and what to say? Did you have the same difficulties transitioning when you started? Is this issue just a problem of experience? That is, the more I do it, the more I’ll get it, or is there a particular method or formula that you’ve found useful? Do you battle with the same issues?
Thanks for listening and please leave your experience in the comments section.