Who and how?

I really liked The Obstacle is the Way so I went to one of Ryan Holiday’s talks1 for The Ego is the Enemy. He checks and responds to his own emails, so I asked about writing and he pointed me to a recent Quora answer he wrote: What are some tips for aspiring writers and journalists to succeed in today’s media market?

I’ve been really interested in sort of the logistics side of writing. In a sense, I care a lot about what kind of kind of pen Steven King uses, when that doesn’t matter all that much2.

Ryan’s tips were a great reminder for me that successful writing goes far beyond how you write. What you’re writing about is more important. He says it’s important to ask two questions:

Who am I saying this to?

How are they going to hear about it?

I’ve realized that I don’t have answers to either of these for a lot of the posts I’ve written. I’ll try to keep these questions in mind as I continue writing. For this post, 1.) I’m saying this to other people who want to write and 2.) they’ll hear about it after visiting my 100 posts3 and clicking through a few links.

Because if it doesn’t have a shot, if you don’t know who that shot is supposed to be in front of generally, then you’re just journaling. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but don’t blame anyone else if that begins to feel lonely or onanistic.

Sometimes it does feel like I’m journaling. Except knowing it will be publicly accessible. Which is a bad in-between: the best public writing probably isn’t someone’s journaling4, and the most interesting journals certainly aren’t public.

  1. I took a good amount of notes so I’ll write a post about it. I also plan to write a post with book notes about The Ego is the Enemy and another post with book notes on a re-read of The Obstacle is the Way. During the Q&A at the end of the talk, he had good answers to some questions that I want to write about. Just want to jot them down here so I can refer to them (then hopefully link to them in the future): What are your thoughts on imposter syndrome? Many successful people have huge egos, how do you separate the two?

  2. Though I think improving as a writer involves writing regularly. Logistics are important for having a routine and drive my interest at the moment.

  3. Affirmations, baby!

  4. But there are certainly good things like this: Draymond Green Finals diary, Part 24, Andy Greenwald Craves Herr’s Potato Chips at Inopportune Times