Reasons to write on the internet

This is first post on my blog and is appropriately self-serving. Blogging more is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time so I used the opportunity to kick it off with my new website.

Good reasons to write


If, for no other reason, write to improve your thinking. It’s a common misconception that writing is the artefact of thinking when, in fact, writing is active thinking with fast feedback loops. Lingering thoughts and ideas are the raw materials, but you have to do the work to piece the puzzle together. Often, you come up with new ideas (that you wouldn’t have had if you didn’t write the thing) once you have an outline of your argument. Logical fallacies and flawed reasoning become more evident that way, too. Having an app idea is not the same as shipping the app. So, if you’re serious about thinking through about a certain topic or concept, write an essay on it.

Manufacturing luck

It’s very uncomfortable to put yourself and your work out there. Perhaps I’ve convinced you with my previous point that you should write, but why bother make it public? You already reap the benefit of better thinking and having new ideas. However, since my post is titled “Reasons to write on the internet”, I’ll argue that sharing costs little effort on your side but can bring outsized returns. And I don’t mean this in the sense of writing click-baity engagement-hacking posts on Twitter or LinkedIn. I mean exploring your own curiosities or sharing things you’ve learned. You become a node in the network of your interests. People who share your interests can read, link to you, comment and learn who you are. We live in a world that rewards densely connected nodes so you actively manufacturing your own luck. It’s networking “for free” if you will, since you let your writing do most of the work (and it’s more fun than going to conferences).

Organising your own thoughts

I am not a particularly disciplined or organised person. I leave a trail of fleeting notes and unfinished ideas around. As with anything else, some sort of accountability or external purpose to “finish” or at least put a shape on things can unlock more value from your own work. The problem with unfinished work is that value it creates for you isn’t a linear function of with progress. Finishing and publishing work (or even sharing in private conversations) can be exponentially more valuable to you than various states of WIP. In fact, this applies to most types of creative and writing is no exception.

Your Job

Writing is an under appreciated skill (especially for software devs like me) in a professional setting. The more senior your role is usually involves thinking through problems and then clearly communicating ideas and strategies to solve them. In a more general sense, writing down things, documenting decisions and historical texts is very valuable and massively underappreciated.

Bad reasons not to write

Blog pollution

Most people (myself included) worry about “polluting” the internet with more stuff. It’s understandable, we are already drowning in information. It has become a competitive advantage to skilfully manage your inputs and curate your feeds. I also have an aesthetic bias towards authors who create less but more focused content. I find it hard to get into the discographies of musicians with a double-digit number of albums or pick where to start with writers whose archive makes my scrollbar barely visible. Being prolific certainly helps with having more “hits”. Apparently, Picasso averaged two artworks per day throughout his adult life. But for others, the creative process has slower cycles, and that’s OK too.

The problem with “pollution” thinking is that it imagines the internet as physical space that you fill with garbage. A more accurate way to think about it is as a living network of nodes and while mainstream topics are overly dense nodes bursting with content, the long tail of niche content is impossible to fill up. Write about stuff that you wish had been written. Don’t think of your writing as a linear log or a feed that gets stale over time but rather reference your own concepts you’ve written before to build up your own graph of ideas. This way you’re more likely to contribute interesting datapoints on topics of your interest that has built-in longevity. The beauty of blogging is that there’s no algorithmic incentive to catch the trend or hack the engagement metric of the day. The only thing that matters is where your curiosity leads you.

What I have to say isn’t interesting

It’s common to think that just because you’ve learned or realised something, everybody else must have too. But obviously that’s not true. There might be other resources on the internet on what you’re writing about but if your specific metaphor or style of teaching makes it click for even one person, it’s already worth it!