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Writing is a Single-Player Game

Your subscriber count is not the number of humans you're playing with, it's your power level against algorithmic demons.

If you can figure out the truth, you should share it. You might help someone.

But you're unlikely to figure out the truth because you want to help people.

You're unlikely to figure out the truth because you want to "join a conversation."

You're unlikely to figure out the truth because you want to build an audience.

You're only going to figure out truths if you're passionate about knowing the truth, if you find exhilarating the work of trying to figure out the truth.

Mustering the discipline to write on a regular basis is a battle against yourself, against your own feeling that it doesn't matter.

Finding the will to click the publish button is a battle against yourself, against your own feeling that it's not worth it.

You feel nervous about what your readers will think, but that makes no sense. They subscribed to you because they want to know what you think; you have zero reason to care what they think. If you really care what your readers think, then go subscribe to them. You are not subscribed to your readers because you do not care what they think. Now act like it.

Your ideas can help people, and it's selfish to not share them, but also beware the opposite illusion that writing is some kind of grand altruism. Your subscriber count is not an index of your social responsibility; it's a number you try to increase because it's fun to watch it go up, like your power level in a video game. Except that writing on the internet is not a massive multi-player game, as many people naturally presume. Your subscriber count is not the number of humans you're playing with, it's a measure of your personal progress against a world of algorithmic demons.

If you happen to be wrong about something, it's unlikely to matter much. If some people find one of your posts stupid, it's unlikely to matter much. If one of your posts is really amazing, it's unlikely to matter much.

Over the long term, everything finds its level. But only over the long term.

If you're smart and interesting, you have to write a ton of posts to rise to the top. But if you do write a ton of posts, you will rise to the top.

If you're really stupid and boring, you also have to write a ton of posts before you fall to the bottom. This should come as a relief to anyone who fears they are stupid or boring; if you are, you'll almost certainly quit before anyone forms a clear picture of your objectively low worth!

If you can write a ton of posts over several years, you're pretty much guaranteed to be better than the average writer. Therefore, if you're unsure about your quality, just use persistence to force yourself into the upper echelons.

Given that writing is a single-player game, you should play it in whatever fashion is most fun for you.

If you can make writing a game that’s more fun than anything else, you'll play it frequently. And you'll never quit. Therefore, you will rise. And you'll help people, but only because you didn't worry about helping people.

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Since we're talking about writing, the next cohort of indiethinkers will start on June 27. Make Writing Fun Again. Request an invitation here.

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