Wrestling Between You and Me

by Dan Walsh

Who Am I Writing For Anyway?

Sometimes it’s really hard to write something if I think people will read it. Especially if I know people I care about will read it. What if I offend them? What if they think my ideas are dumb?  Sometimes it’s hard to write something if I’m writing it for you. I wrestle between writing for you and writing for me. There are already a lot of hills to climb when writing, I don’t need more. When this doubt creeps in, and if I still want to write about the idea, I switch into journal mode.

When I write in journal mode, I write to myself. I write how I feel, and what I think. I probably use the word “I” a lot, so that might alienate my audience sometimes, but at least I get my thoughts out. I give myself room to be compassionate, and patient with myself. I still try to create cohesive thoughts, and use proper grammar, and don’t leave sentences hanging with an ellipsis… If only as a favor to my future self who might come back and read what I’ve written. It still needs to be interesting to him too!

More than anything, writing in journal mode helps me produce. It helps me ship my writing (almost) everyday, and it’s a Plan B when I’m crunched for time or hit writer’s block. I don’t spend 10 minutes writing and rewriting my first sentence in journal mode because I know what I meant to say. I don’t need to be overly witty for myself. I don’t need to create great transition sentences for the sake of my own reading or adjust my word choices because they’re esoteric, or because I’m the only one who will get an inside joke I have with myself. I don’t worry (as much) about run-on sentences. I also don’t need to write intro copy about a topic that really might need to be addressed so that anyone else will know what I’m talking about.

I have a ton of marketing content I want to write about, but every topic requires explanations about how AdWords works, or what a margin is. This stuff is dry and it holds me back sometimes because I don’t want to take the time to write about it. It’s just in the way of my getting to the interesting stuff. But that means I don’t write about it at all.

Journal mode helps me get past all of this stuff. The boring content, the self-doubt, and the slow progress all disappear when I write in journal mode. I hope when I write this way that my vulnerability – my openness – makes up for the self-centered prose.