Why I Write
It’s been a busy month, including a sold-out conference with agencies from seven countries and consulting engagements in Toronto, Chicago, Denver, New York City, Guatemala, Washington DC, and Austin. I’m always grateful for new opportunities, but my biggest regret in busyness is that it crowds out writing, and I’m drawn to writing like a moth to a flame. Why do I miss it? What is it about writing that feeds my soul?
I write because I breathe. I am a deep introvert and this is how I address my world. Today I speak to a big crowd at Inbound and I enjoy that immensely, but after I am done I’d rather go write or walk or take pictures. Talking with fifty people after I’m done speaking is more work than speaking. If socializing is acting (to me), then writing is breathing.
I write because it’s how I get smart. If you wait for clarity before you write, you’ll wait far too long. Clarity comes in the articulation and not after it. You can bullshit your way through a conversation with tone, pacing, body language, and nuance. Not so on paper, where the glare of peer review strips away the unnecessary layers.
I write because I can achieve impact at scale. There are times when a private conversation is the best means to change someone’s life, but that doesn’t scale and my personality craves scale. I don’t like that burden, but I’ve come to accept it.
I write so that I can accomplish something instead of solving the same problem again. So much of life is like vacuuming, mowing the lawn, or trimming your nails—when you finish, all you’re doing is resetting the countdown timer to mark when you’ll have to do it again. But writing something is lasting and no one can take it away from you. Years ago I realized that there were too many issues in my consulting practice about which I did not have a thoughtful point of view. My list of those topics totaled fifty-five, and so I started a monthly newsletter and knocked them out in four and one-half years. Check. Done. Next.
I write to reach you. A client wrote to me in January, in response to a blog post, that “you visit my brain without permission.” I really like that thought. When I write something that tens of thousands of people read, I fully expect that hundreds of them will share that sentiment. I like the power of knowing what people are facing and how to help them. There’s a risk and presumption and deeply-rooted care in reaching people who are losing sleep at night over a business issue that I might bring them some peace about.
I write because it terrifies me. And I’m drawn to terror. My hobbies and travel are tinged with terror because I feel things differently. Writing this, right now, knowing I’ll send it in a few minutes has me antsy. What will people think? Is this when they unsubscribe? Is not trying to earn a readership the key to retaining it?
I write to keep my strength up. I’ll confess to not really knowing what that means, entirely, but Gwen Bell wrote that from Coyoacán, México, a few hours ago and I think it’s a phrase that will stick with me.
Are you inspired to write? I hope so, because there’s a good chance that you should write more than you do. Think deeply, take chances, and write things I won’t learn somewhere else.
I appreciate the time you dedicate to reading what I write.