Is This Why You Write?
Updated: Mar 15, 2022
“Do I need to be liked? Absolutely not. I like to be liked. I enjoy being liked. I have to be liked, but it’s not like this compulsive need to be liked, like my need to be praised.” — Michael Scott
I remember the first day I wanted to become a writer. It was very early in junior high when my English teacher came to me with a set of short stories in Arabic and asked me to translate them into English during the summer break.
I don’t recall the exact thought process as I explored my linguistic skills on a more editorial level, but I do remember my audience. I didn’t care about what everyone else thought. My translations were subpar, a hodgepodge mess that I thought was perfect. But I honestly didn’t care. I was a young kid with a passion for English and a love for storytelling and language.
Today, as I sit down to write, there is a lot of pressure that surrounds my thoughts as I type out each word. Every sentence I produce is met with stringent scrutiny as I write and edit. It’s exhausting to have to measure out every piece of writing that you put out.
This pressure isn’t the healthy kind. There’s the pressure that stems from expectations. You want your reader to read the best that you can write. You don’t want to produce half-assed “meh” pieces for your reader. It’s not about the reader per se but about the par you have set for yourself.
This type of pressure isn’t wrong. It’s a challenge that you put for yourself to become better at what you do. The time that you allocate for research, the quality of your writing…, which is measured by the viewership and fan counts. But there’s another type of pressure that I know most writers struggle with. You want your reader to be wowed by a story you wrote. You want your writing to be memorable, unique, and entertaining. But to do that, you have to mold your story so that it looks that way. You take a story that is honest, creative, and personal, and trim it off to fit the perceived nature of similar stories. Eventually, you start writing with your reader in mind. Would they like the fact that I added this personal story here? Is this story becoming too personal? Are my fans going to hate this? I probably shouldn’t write about this topic. It’s controversial. Oh, I shouldn’t criticize this guy. My readers will be enraged. Here’s the thing about writing: it has to be genuine and honest. It’s a difficult thing to ensure when you’re writing articles every day because you’re able to see your growth and witness love from your readers as you write. You keep looking for affection and praise all the time, which badly affects how you write and what you write. On the contrary, when you write a lengthy novel that takes you months or years to finish, you can feel more at liberty when it comes to what and how you write. Hiding behind a cover and concealing your real personality to your reader is not very healthy to your writing, both quality- and career-wise. That’s fine if you’re a brand blogger. But always feeding your reader thoughts and information that you think they want to hear will eventually backfire.
Disagreement does not necessitate war. It provokes thoughts and discussion.
We will never be able to be on the same page. At least not for a long time or regarding one topic. Everyone is different, and so when you don’t provide proactive writing that is free, you close the door on more readership and exposure. Don’t seclude your content.
Your reader doesn’t have to agree with everything you write. Keeping your reader in mind while you write will constrain your imagination and hold you back from being honest.
Having people comment on your stories with praise and thumbs-up, and shower your articles with claps will eventually make you a robot. Your mind becomes numb, and your personality is tucked away behind a façade of a people-pleaser. As a reader, I always look for content that makes me think, even if I disagree with it. That’s how we grow as human beings — as intellectuals who claim that our ideologies and beliefs can hold up to scrutiny.
Judging your work by how much claps and praise comments it will get is not good writing. It just means that you write what people want to read. Unless you want to build a relationship with your reader. Because that’s why we write, don’t you agree? I write because I want to connect with other people — whether they be likeminded or ideological rivals. We write and we read to make sense of people around us, to become well-informed and educate each other, and to learn from our experiences.
Write like no one is reading. Keep writing when no one is reading.
Stop looking for perfection. You won’t find it in a 3-minute Medium article. You won’t find it anywhere, because perfection doesn’t exist. Write for yourself. Write to learn and grow. Write to dwell on your thoughts and provoke new ones. Don’t ever write to please others or look more sophisticated and “in the know.”
Your reader will appreciate you more.
Written by Tarek Gara on Medium.