In A Year of Flânerie, I mentioned a desire to write again.
As a kid, I was an avid reader and writer. Partially because a liberal arts education naturally involves a lot of reading and writing, but also because I enjoyed it. While my parents frequently had to force me to do math exercises, I would devour books of all flavors without any prodding. At the same time, I’d write anything and everything – strategy guides for games I wasn’t very good at, nauseating love poems to girls I didn’t have the courage to deliver, and a journal I kept for most of the seventh grade (until it was tragically/thankfully destroyed by a flooding washing machine).
Although I continued to read, the writing fell by the wayside as I entered adulthood. Perhaps it was easier to consume than to produce. Or maybe spending the day writing dry regulatory documentation didn’t leave me excited to keep writing after I got home. But I suspect the main culprit was a fear of putting my ideas up for criticism.
Ultimately, writing is the sharing of ideas that you think are worth sharing. When I was 11, I wrote with the irrational confidence that comes with youthful ignorance. But as I got older, I realized there was a very real chance that my ideas were not as correct or valuable as I had imagined. And now I felt like I had more to lose. Being wrong or useless when you’re older seems worse because you think you should know better, especially if you view yourself as a smart person (as I do).
But, as usual, the ego is the enemy here. I have to open up my ideas to criticism if I want to grow. I have to express my ideas through writing if I want others to criticize them. I have to do so under my own name if I want the kind of accountability that leads to leverage.
And the obstacle is the way.
08/13 Update: David Perell explains why you should write, preferably publicly.