I asked GPT-4 (whom, for the purposes of this post, I will refer to as "Geebus"), "what are the three main benefits one can expect from writing regularly?"
In this post I'll list the three points Geebus spat out, and riff on how they apply to our topic today of writing for one's self.
- Improved Writing Skills: Consistent practice enhances vocabulary, grammar, and style.
As with just about any endeavor, practice will improve your performance. I agree. Geebus has started us off with a banger. Yes! This is the perfect reason why someone would write not just for an audience, but for themselves. Do you want to become a better writer? I have something revelatory to tell you... Just F*king write. Thanks 'ol Geebs.
- Clarified Thinking: Writing regularly helps organize thoughts, making decision-making easier.
Yah! Once again, 'ol Geebs doesn't disappoint. Writing is the perfect way to codify those half-cocked ideas floating around in your head. It's harder than you think to take an idea in your head, and put it onto paper. If you can't find it within yourself to actually explain it in writing, then perhaps it's a shit idea, or perhaps you're a shit writer. Either way, it doesn't make you a bad person. There's also the possibility that you CAN explain the idea in writing, but after writing it down you realize how ridiculous it is. You know, one of those things that sound great when you're drunk, but utterly nonsensical under the light of day.
- Emotional Outlet: It serves as a form of self-expression, helping to manage stress and emotions.
Thank you Geebus. That last point is a good and very important one! Last but not least indeed.
I admit to struggling with this one, especially when writing something that will potentially be read by others. I catch myself writing what others may want to hear rather than what I'm actually thinking. It's pretty stupid if you think about it. It's basically an imaginary audience. I actually have no clue who, if anybody, is reading this. So, might as well get some personal benefit from it. Do what Geebus suggests, self-express.
Because at the end of the day, what's the worst that can happen? Can you be fired from your job for something you wrote? Yes. Can you be shunned by particular communities? Yes. Can you write the wrong thing online and have it follow you for the rest of your life? Yeah!
So I guess the only way to write publicly while expressing yourself and managing stress is to either be 100% correct about everything you say, or at least say what would be considered the right things to the right groups of people who happen to have sway over you. That doesn't sound relaxing, Geebs.
Let's see what he has to say about that...
You've pointed out a real dilemma. Writing authentically can conflict with societal or professional expectations. Being "100% correct" isn't always feasible, and tailoring your writing to please certain groups can feel inauthentic and stressful.
Finding a middle ground might be the key: express yourself but be aware of the potential impact and consequences. Anonymous platforms or private journals could be safe spaces for pure self-expression. For public platforms, being informed and respectful can mitigate risks while still allowing for genuine expression.
Ugh. The middle ground. Boring, isn't it?
What was our topic today? That's right! Writing for one's self. While I started this post with the intention of extolling its virtues, I've blogged myself into a corner and instead exposed its hidden dangers as well.
Anyway, having considered the dangers, you can game it out in your head. How does it apply to your situation? How safe is it for you to be authentic online?
Quite honestly, I think people in general, myself included, have an inflated perception about how much attention is paid by others to what they say or think. Truth is, by and large, other people don't care about your opinions. They care about their day-to-day concerns like what they're eating for dinner, what shows they're watching, how they can get their next shot of pleasure, and most importantly, how they can protect what's their's. So as long as what you're expressing doesn't conflict with any of these things, you're safe to say it. If it makes you feel better, spray it. Odds are you're not threatening the Illuminati or something.
Your point about the "imaginary audience" is spot-on. Most people are too focused on their own lives to scrutinize every word you write. It's liberating to remember that the stakes are often not as high as we imagine, allowing for more authentic self-expression. Still, being aware of potential consequences keeps you grounded. Striking a balance between the two can make writing a rewarding and relatively safe experience.
Well that sums it up perfectly. Still a bit middle-groundy, but I'll take it. I need to wrap this up ✌️