The cobbler’s children are the worst shod

Régis Jauffret got it right when he said that he was disgusted by writers who think of their readers.

Jonathan Meades in Museum Without Walls

I currently ply my trade as a, variously, content strategist, ux writer, content designer, copywriter, communications consultant. I make sure the content I produce or commission for clients serves a purpose, as part of a tactic that supports a strategy that fulfils a mission.

But what about the content I publish for myself, like this blog? Well, here’s the thing: whether it’s imagined or self-imposed, I’ve felt a pressure to try and apply the ludicrously high professional standards I set for my work to my personal output. And that’s led to a paralysis that’s stopped me from writing here regularly because I end up overthinking things, leading to me either not starting a post in the first place (keeping it in my head) or, starting it, but spending so long trying to craft the flipping thing that I abandon it altogether because I don’t have the time or inclination to polish it to the standard I want. Even this selfsame blog post – the ultimate aim of which is to free myself from my own obligations – was started four days ago before finally coming together with the words you see now.

But that’s not the point of this blog. I’m not writing for any readers. I’m writing for myself: for the joy of writing; for the joy of sharing; for the joy of publishing something without having to get anyone’s approval but my own. If you want to apply a post hoc content strategy to it, it’s to say anything goes. The strategy is there is no strategy.

A particular passage in Jonathan Meades’ introduction to Museum Without Walls gave me the nudge I didn’t know I was looking for. Here’s the fuller quote leading up the one I put at the top.

These lectures, essays, polemics, squibs and telly scripts are intended to entertain, to instruct, to inform and to question […] But before that they are written because I want to read them, to watch them. If that sounds selfish and immodest so be it. But it is surely more honest to write for an audience of one whose peccadillos and limitations I understand than for an inchoate mass of opinionated individuals whose multiple and conflicting tastes I can only guess at and which I have, above everything else, to be indifferent to. Régis Jauffret got it right when he said that he was disgusted by writers who think of their readers.

Jonathan Meades in Museum Without Walls

So with this post I hereby give myself permission to seek forgiveness rather than permission and to chuck any old crap up here. Yes, I hope someone, somewhere finds whatever I publish entertaining, useful or thought-provoking, but if that someone is me and me only, that’s good enough.

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4 Comments

  1. I have no idea how I found your blog, but it was back in the day you wrote a post a day. Whatever you write on your blog I usually read until the last paragraph.

    > I’ve felt a pressure to try and apply the ludicrously high professional standards I set for my work to my personal output.

    I think this is a common problem. People gladly spend their days spewing content into the social media silos, but when it comes to blogging we set the threshold of originality so strangely high. Now you’ve started, so I guess you just need to keep at it. 🙂

    Regards from Sweden

    1. Thanks, Mikael. It’s good to get your point of view. I like the point you make about social media. I’ve left Facebook and I’ve weaned myself off Twitter and I guess they acted as the low quality outlets, so now what I’m feeling is that I still need a place to go for some – certainly not all – of the thoughts that would have gone on social media.

  2. I have almost finished Alan Moore’s magnum opus, Jerusalem. That was definitely not written with the reader in his mind and it is also a piece of brilliance.

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