Whom do you write for – 200 words project

November 10, 2014

Here is this week’s 200 words project.


“Not to an audience or for publication but to himself, for himself.”

Ryan Holiday talking about Marcus Aurelius in his book The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph


Marcus Aurelius wrote for himself, not for an audience. Maria Popova writes for herself, mostly not an audience. Tim Ferris wrote for 2 friends, not an audience. Leo Babauta wrote for some member of his family, not an audience. Lewis Carol wrote ‘Alice in Wonderland’ for his friend’s daughter Alice. And on and on.

It appears that when we write for someone specific – either our self or a friend or family, it makes a huge difference in our voice. And the writing feels personal and we do our best writing. It is when we try to write for an audience that the writing deteriorates.

Why is this? Is it because when we write for someone, we are being true to ourselves, we are using a voice this person understands? Is it because when we write for some specific individuals or individual, we think about them as we write.

And is it that when we try to write for an audience, we are thinking about ourselves – about how good this writing will be, how well its going to be received, how popular and famous it can be (or fear the opposite) – but the end person affected is us?

When we write for someone, we see their faces, or maybe we glimpse ourselves, and so it frees us from being ‘correct’, or ‘good’ or ‘shocking’ or ‘popular’. We don’t really need to try to conform to someone else’s ideas and can just be ourselves – and the ‘ourselves’ of this moment – not the ‘our self ‘ we used to be last month or we are trying to be.

Maybe this stepping outside what we need, what we want out of our writing and just writing for someone else, with the hope of entertaining someone, or learning ourselves better or even trying to help someone is what makes writing good?


About the 200 Words Project

Once every week, on Monday morning, I will post my ‘200 Words Project’ post where I will ruminate on some idea which caught my interest in the current book I’m reading, or maybe (sometimes) from a blog post or podcast – in 200 words or more, never less!

Tags: 200-words-project

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