This morning, as I was drinking my coffee and reading the modern version of the “morning paper” — scanning through my favorite blogs — I stumbled upon a post by Seth Godin.
“Popular vs. Good
They’re not the same.
We often strive to have both, but that’s unlikely. The price of having one almost certainly involves losing the other. We often end up compromising something to get both and fail.
Better to have one than neither.”
Every creator has the following dilemma, whether they realize it or not:
Write something for “likes.”
Write something for themselves.
Too many ambitious writers — like me — chase both.
But the truth is, if you chase both, you’ll get neither. It’s better to start with one.
I used to think that all you need is to play in the “easy mode” — i.e., build an audience, write something that goes viral, and then — only then — you can start creating art.
It’s much easier to say what you want to say to an existing audience, I thought.
It makes total sense:
You chip away 25–30 crappy self-help pieces per month.
You get all the likes, make good money along the way.
Then, once you’ve established your “platform,” you can start writing what you actually want.
Now I understand that there are no rules.
There is only a question:
“What kind of writer do you want to be?”
And a choice:
a) You can be the writer who writes for the metrics and cash.
b) Or you can be the writer who says something worth saying, “lifts people,” and stays true to his or her values.
You can’t be both, as Seth said.
But you also can’t be one now and then, once you’re “ready,” the other.
These are two very different paths. There’s a 180-degree angle between them. It’ll be harder — almost impossible — to switch later. You’ll have to start from scratch.
So you have to make this decision now, today.
This weekend, I decided that no matter what happens — I won’t pretend in my writing. Not anymore. Enough.
This place is sacred. It may be the only place where I get to be my real self.
Yes, I might write a piece or two in the future about “Medium” or something that gets the likes — but generally, I want my writing to be this way: brutally honest, without ulterior motives, or as Charles Bukowski would say — without “trying” too much.
Let’s see where it gets me.