I’ve been writing online in different capacities since graduating college two years ago. I like online writing for a lot of reasons. It gives the ordinary person the capacity to express themselves in a manner that was previously reserved only for very privileged persons, either privileged because of education or financially or otherwise. I don’t want to discount my own privilege in writing online; it is still something that is relatively restrictive especially with regard to the ability to grow audiences and opportunities to write for large audiences. I have been very blessed with regard to my educational privilege and the opportunities given to me.
Outside of corporate writing or content creation for web publications, I really enjoy writing from my own perspective. It is therapeutic, and there is a lot of immediate feedback for it from people, which helps you be attentive to all your areas of growth. But there is a downside to it, like everything else.
1. Quantity sometimes overrides quality
The digital age is measured by rapidity in some ways. For most web publications or even lucrative blogs, the amount of content is very important. Content needs to be relevant and rapid. And the reality is that a lot of the time, traffic is a concern. The more content you have, the likelihood that you’ll be getting higher traffic. Google, which is basically the King of the web, likes fresh content. Sometimes all of this comes at a sacrifice of writing posts that are thoughtful and imaginative and take a lot of time. It’s not most writers favorite part of the job but it’s a part that we have to do to able to build an audience that allows us to also write about the things we want to write about.
2. Constant creativity
The thing about writing is that it’s hardly a mindless task. Even if you’re writing about something that millions of people write about every day, there is a need to put in effort to at least find a different way of saying it so that it captures audiences. There have been many times where I’m writing about something that’s relatively easy and I’m just stumped. I have nothing coming to me and a deadline is in the next hour. Unlike other capacities of work, it’s constant creative brainpower to please often very demanding audiences who will not hesitate to inform you of what they think about your work.
3. Misunderstanding what the writer is saying
One of the my favorite quotes from David Cain, who you can find at Raptitude, is, “The secret to connecting with people is this: Always try to understand what people really mean when they speak.” I think that should be applied to all forms of communication but especially online writing. There is a lot that gets lots between what a writer types and what the reader reads. Writing online has made me very careful with regard to how I interpret what people say and write because I have experienced the backlash of people misinterpreting the meaning of a piece or my thoughts on a particular subject. And admittedly, sometimes what I have to say or write needs evaluation or reconsideration. But I’m also not the type to go and reply to every single commenter that doesn’t get it because I just don’t have the time. Moreover, it is a very interesting phenomenon for me to observe how people interpret things. People think that online writers must suffer most because of hateful comments. For me, I enjoy when people disagree, and I enjoy learning what others have to say about a subject matter. Many times I even find the hateful comments humorous. But when an entire piece is taken out of context or completely misconstrued, that’s when I feel most discontent with feedback.
So what do you do as an online writer? Well, you learn to not take a whole lot personally. You also learn to bust out pieces when you’re feeling most creative so you can have some fall-backs in case you need them. And most of all you just learn to be grateful to have a voice. A voice that can help someone who’s having a bad day or talk about something that makes a subject matter better understood or simply touch someone with your words in a way that gives them meaning, and these things will always outweigh the downsides.