You Have to Make People Give a Shit

One way blogging makes you a better writer is it forces you to work hard for your readers’ attention. On the web, it takes less than a second to close the page or click a new link. Your readers are busy and distracted.

This means you must engage the reader out of the gate and take nothing for granted. If you start sucking in the second paragraph, you’ll likely lose the reader’s attention.

Contrast this to school. In a writing class I’m taking this semester, everybody writes essays and turns them in to the class to be workshopped. Our homework is to read each others’ essays. As a writer, you know your classmates and professor are going to read your writing — no matter what. It’s their job. In a recent workshop, I was thinking to myself, “This is good for what it is, but I would never read this in my free time.” I’m sure professors across other disciplines, like History or Philosophy, think this all the time. School, then, might breed a bad habit for aspiring writers and thinkers: the illusion that people will always read your entire essay just because it’s you.

The so-called real world is super competitive. Nobody will read your stuff (well, other than your mom) just because it’s you. The real-world reality is: No one cares what you think. It’s up to you make people give a shit.

The blogosphere, with its tens of millions of competing blogs just a link a way, captures this brutal “life” reality perfectly. Nobody cares what you did yesterday. Nobody is reading your archives. Nobody is reading your bio. Show me something today.

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