In an interview
with entrepreneur Tim Ferriss, writer and creator of the Wait But Why
blog Tim Urban says that a lot of advice to young writers, especially advice targeting writers who want to build an online presence, centers around trying to win readers over.
As he puts it, “If you think of your potential readers as pegs, this advice is about trying to mold yourself into the right-shaped hole – a hole that will fit a lot of readers or draw in a bunch of readers quickly, or some other means of getting a writing career going.”
But Urban argues that the opposite advice is a better approach: you should obsess over figuring out the most exciting and natural shape of yourself as a writer, and start doing that.
There are tons of people on the internet, and they can all potentially access your work with a tap on their phone. Even if only 1 in every 1,000 (0.1 percent) happens to be a reader whose interests match your writing style, that amounts to over a million people who will love what you’re doing.
This is the exact approach Urban used to create Wait But Why: “I started out basically imagining I was writing for a stadium full of replicas of myself – which made things easy because I already knew exactly what topics interested them, what writing style they liked, what their sense of humor was, etc.”
He ignored the conventional wisdom that articles should be short and frequent.
And it worked.
As Urban points out, by focusing inward on yourself instead of outward on what you think other people want to read, “you’ll end up creating the best and most original work, and that one-in-a-thousand person who happens to love it will end up finding their way to you.”