3 min read

The Role of the Internet Writer

The Role of the Internet Writer
Photo by Surface on Unsplash

Earlier today, I was looking at some old writing I did during early 2021 on my Roam Research. At the time, I had a daily habit of a “morning slate.” When I woke up, I’d write about 250 words about whatever was on my mind. While the medium of writing changed (sometimes on Roam, other times in a Word doc, and eventually in Notion), this habit has stuck.

I no longer write for myself each morning, but I do write every day (often for an audience).

We should all publish our writing

Having found significant joy in the writing process on Medium, I often recommend to my friends that they start their own blog. They have interesting things to say — why not share them with the world?

A few of these friends already journal every day, so it wouldn’t seem that difficult to extend themselves into publishing on a blog every once in a while. But as I read my morning slates from almost two years ago now, I can’t help but think: should we publish all of our thoughts?

Quality, Relatability

In line with some thinking I’ve been doing recently, the idea on the importance of the quality of work has come up again and again. In contrast with the work of writers like Austin Kleon, I am hesitant to believe that I should simply “show my work.” In all honesty, some of my work is shit. And as I scroll on Medium to see a bunch of other shit work (you know the stuff I’m talking about), I wonder: should I really publish everything?

At the same time as I think vetting my work would be a great option, I reflect on the idea that the author, themselves, does not always know the impact of the work. Specifically, something I write that may seem banal and overstated may be just what someone else has to hear.

Another idea: the reader will vet the work themselves. They will make the call if what you’re writing is worth reading. It’s an interesting idea, but I am not sure it’s true. We scroll on services like Instagram and TikTok for hours only to come away less happy and more addicted.

All the clickbait content is like putting drugs in a super-market and letting the consumer choose whether to buy vegetables or cocaine (although, click-bait makes this even worse in that the drugs are actively advertised while the healthier options fail to capture attention).

One of my favorite authors, Paul Millerd, has popularized the idea that readers are often less interested in the content itself as much as they are interested in the person writing the content.

These are the people who you read on Substack, subscribe to on YouTube, and listen to on Spotify. Like a relationship with a friend, you are genuinely interested in what they’re thinking about.

So, is that the goal of an internet writer? To build connection at scale while improving those who engage with them? It’s like being a good friend to your readers, guiding them along the way and sharing with them about what worked for you.

While it sounds idealistic, this is the best definition that I’ve found so far.

Friendships and Publishing

Publish what you write. But do it selectively. This is my new philosophy.

For the work I don’t feel so great about or may feel too personal to blast on social media, I’ll be sharing it with the fans that enjoy my work. It’s a small tribe, but it exists.

On Medium and social media, I’ll be putting out the more refined work. The work that has to do less with me and more with big ideas. While you can still find that in my personal writing, these posts will be more polished — because I believe that they both reflect who I am and give the reader a relationship with me while also hopefully improving the lives of those people who will simply pass by, reading one or two of my articles.

I set out to publish every other day this past October, but I simply don’t think that’s best for the world. It may be best for racking up followers. It may be best for making money from writing. But it’s not best for advancing the causes I believe in. This new solution isn’t perfect, but I think it’s the best way I know to move forward.