On Audience, Authenticity, and A’s
This article originally appeared at jonasressem.substack.com
I’m done trying to get my articles read. I just want to write them, you know?
I’ve been writing for four years now. Back when I started, I did it mostly for me. I had gone through a breakup, was engulfed in depression, and in that state I was desperate to try to understand what was going on. And that’s when I found writing. Instead of imploding by thoughts, there was relief in exploding my words into the notepad of my phone.
After reaching a decent level in my recovery, I began to feel the need to express myself. Coupled with the idea I could share what I’d learned with others in similar situations, I published my first words to the world. I was now writing for two actors.
This was a good start to my writing journey; a meaningful way to spend my time. About a year later, however, I made that horrid decision to try to make a living as a writer. Because with it, I concluded I had to get my articles read.
Although the original desires were still present, I began lusting for a new one: building an audience. And so, I started writing the kind of hyper-aggressive self-help articles that were popular at the time. (I was reading that kind of articles myself so didn’t think too much about it. I guess when you first get into trying to understand and better your life, everything shines).
As I trended my words towards the popular, I began to gain some traction. My articles were read by more and more people, and the little number on my profile page increased ever so slightly. It felt nice; perhaps I was making a positive impact.
In my third year of writing, the aggression eased out, and I further developed my skills as a writer. Although the original desires resurfaced a bit, I couldn’t help but stain my articles with the new. I was in too deep. Sure, some of these articles were good, which I proudly look back on today, but many I could have been without.
On this fourth year of writing, I’ve developed a distaste for this whole “self-help” scene. I’ve contracted the content disease; that twisting in your stomach when you encounter content made for…