“Try not to offend anyone.”
That’s what most writers accidentally think when they set out to write online (don’t worry, I did too). So they follow this method for a while and eventually burn out. Why?
The smart way to figure out if your writing is too safe
Writer Isaiah McCall said “so much online writing makes me feel lukewarm. It’s not bad, but it’s not great either. It doesn’t make me feel anything.”
It stopped me in my tracks.
Straight away I thought “I feel like that too, brother.” I spend much of my time as a writer starving to find writing that makes me come alive. Why do I do this? Because great writing inspires me to do my best writing.
It’s just so hard to find good writing anymore.
Most of what I read is like McDonald’s Big Macs. It’s fast food full of calories but terrible for your brain’s information diet. Isaiah suggests we should avoid writing bland stuff as much as possible.
The way to avoid playing it too safe is to feel afraid when you hit publish.
The best writing can make you feel bad
Blogger Nat Eliason is a titan of the online writing world.
He got on the gravy train of the “Every Bundle” that succeeded as a newsletter on Subst@ack, then quit and went out on their own with a few other popular newsletters.
Nat says he felt bad about writing a popular article on Gary Vee called “No More Struggle P*rn.”
The article made him a lot of money and got read by 461,000 people.
The goal of the piece was to critique the bad idea that hustle culture is good for us. Instead, people read the article and hurled f-bombs at Gary Vee. It unintentionally defamed him and made the internet a worse place. The poor guy still hasn’t recovered.
The problem happened again when Nat wrote an article called “Yes, You Should Delete Facebook” which got read by 676,000 people.
I’ve felt bad about writing certain articles, too. Here are a few:
- Layoffs at Rich Tech Companies Show You Can’t Trust Any Employer
- Unsplash Is Officially Dead — Here Are the Smarter Alternatives
- You’re Missing the Point About Elon’s Purchase of Twitter
- Millennials Have (Finally) Figured out Bigger Salaries Are a Scam
Just like Nat, I feel bad because these articles are contrarian and sometimes polarizing. They’re not safe. They look danger right in the face and say “come get me punk.”
Strong views like these can cause a small percentage of people to become triggered and get angry. You’ll unintentionally offend a few people.
The comments section may snag a few filthy mofos looking to place their dirty laundry on the lounge room carpet of your writing.
The sh*t stain won’t clean off either.
And when people get upset, no matter how mentally tough you are, it might make you feel bad.
The thing is you can’t write for the 1% of crazies. 99% of people will be fine with what you write or mature enough to click away if it’s not something they want to read.
Nat says if your self-talk is “ehhh maybe I shouldn’t write about that” you should 100% write about it.
(Unleash your inner writer🔥. Learn how with my free email course.)
Safe writing is about to be outlawed
The days of safe writing are dead.
Artificial intelligence is now smart enough to write bland content full of platitudes and ideas that won’t trigger anyone.
The only way to compete with AI is to have some personality and tell human stories an AI will never be able to experience, and therefore, describe. Whenever I start to give a crap about what someone may think of my precious writing, I imagine the truth:
I could get hit by a bus tomorrow.
Then all I would have done is blended into the background of society out of fear generated by unpaid critics who go home each night miserable and cry themselves to sleep.
That’s no way to go through life man. I want to live, therefore I must write from the heart and block out all the noise.
This is what your most successful writing looks like
I’ve been doing this online writing gig for 8 years. I’m surrounded by people who are good at it and earn 6 and 7 figures from it.
So listen up … no BS.
Your most successful writing will be when you have the courage to speak your truth or say what’s on your mind — when you say what you really think, not what some dumb boss in a monkey suit at work wants you to think.
And if you’re worried about career risk, don’t be.
You can always get another job. They’re not scarce like gold. In fact they’re going out of fashion, so pretty soon employers will have to beg someone to earn a capped salary and ignore the opportunity the internet has created.
The goal of online writing is to put yourself on the line. To dare say what others haven’t said. To bleed your own blood on the page. That’s when you feel like you’ve earned the money from your words.
This easy-to-reach place is the nirvana of writing on the internet. Go there.
Stop writing for people who’d gladly watch your death and feel nothing.