Why writing, even when no one will ever read it, is so important for a writer
Recently, I spent a significant amount of time working on a blog post only to hit delete instead of publish. That decision was difficult because of the investment and sacrifices I made to write it.
Having a wife, four kids, a full-time job, and church responsibilities means my spare time is limited, verging on the nonexistent. I want to make the most of every moment I have. So having that piece never see the light of day meant something was lost — but not everything.
As I tweeted about my decision, several other writers on Twitter shared their own experiences about constructing blog posts, articles, and even books, that no one else will ever read.
Reading their experiences and reflecting on my own, I realized the loss involved in deleting that post was not all that was involved. There were gains and benefits from the decision as well.
Here are four positive takeaways when my writing ends up on the cutting room floor. When we write for an “audience of none,” here’s what you and I can gain, as well as questions we should ask to determine whether a piece should be read by others.
Better grasp what needs to be said publicly
This was part of the issue with my now deleted post. It just didn’t need to be said from a public platform, even one as small as my blog.
Not every thought you and I have should be published and consumable by others. Often times, we need to write out those feelings and try to examine them more coolly without publishing them for all the world to (potentially) see.
Questions to ask yourself: Is this really an issue that multiple people need to digest and discuss? Would the situation be better served without my public words?
More recognition of the appropriate platform
This was the other part of my never-read post. I had sent a few tweets out about the subject, but not addressing the specifics. As I thought about it, I realized that was enough.
While there are some shorter writings that could (and should) be further developed into longer form, more often than not writers take too long to say too little. Many books should be blog posts and a lot of blog posts should be tweets.
Questions to ask yourself: Can I address this adequately in a shorter form? Will I actually be able to say anything more substantial by going deeper into this topic?
Deeper, clearer thoughts on an issue
I’m sure some other writer has said this before, but it’s entirely true for me: I don’t think to write; I write to think. Letting the words flow from my brain onto a notepad or screen enables me to process a topic much more clearly.
This may be true for extroverted writers as well, but as an introvert who does not process things verbally, writing grants me a sounding board for my thoughts. On numerous occasions, I’ve changed my mind while writing about a topic.
Even if I never publish those thoughts, my writing about them helps to sharpen my thinking on that issue and in general.
Questions to ask yourself: Have I sufficiently thought through this issue? Will my writing add to and better the conversation surrounding the topic?
Produce better content moving forward
Writing helps me think, but also (like most other things) practice makes maybe not perfect, but better. I’m a better writer for all the things I’ve written and never published.
Everything that I produce later is, in some way, better because I wrote and deleted a previous piece. If I’m asking myself these questions and thinking through my writing, what I actually do publish will benefit from that.
That also should mean the reader benefits because the writing is better both in terms of the quality and depth of the writing.
Questions to ask yourself: Can this be made significantly better by waiting? Even if I delete this piece or a publisher rejects it, what can I learn from it to be a better writer?
Sometimes the answers to those questions will tell you to publish even if it’s not perfect. Because if you’re like most writers, you will never think a piece is perfect. They’ll always be something to tweak.
But other times, you’ll decide to delete it or a publisher will essentially tell you the same. In those moments, you can still choose to gain and grow from your writing.
Quite frequently, writing for an audience of none is the best preparation to writing for an audience of any other size.