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🤯Unknown Unknowns #119 - Write For Yourself, Then Write For Others
A few weeks ago, I struggled with writing an essay. I had a story about how my Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) partner, after getting choked said, “That was awesome!” The dichotomy was really interesting, but I couldn’t think of anything else to say.
I forgot that there’s writing for yourself and there’s writing for other people.
Before I write for other people, I write for myself. I write until I discover an idea that I can share with other people. Until then, there’s an anecdote here, a lesson there. The parts won’t connect. But that’s ok. It’s all a process.
Writing for yourself is sharpening the idea and removing all extraneous parts. It’s like sculpting. When the Pope asked Michelangelo how he carved David, he said “It’s simple. I just remove everything that is not David.” When you write for yourself, you remove everything that’s not the idea.
This process clarifies this idea and you understand it better.
Only once I’ve polished the idea am I ready to write for others. This is when I add resonance hooks - stories, metaphors, and analogies that engage the reader and let them understand. Humans learn through analogy, not logic. We need narratives that we identify with, we need examples we can relate to.
Going back to my BJJ story, I had been focused on entertaining my future readers. I struggled with finishing the essay because, at that point in time, I hadn’t written for myself yet. I needed to keep an open mind and to keep writing until I realized that the reason I find BJJ so fascinating is that BJJ is a metaphor for life.
The story about my friend saying that getting choked was awesome was useless without the underlying lesson. I needed to save that story instead of focusing on that story.
Metaphors and stories are extraneous when writing for yourself, but essential for writing for other people.
1️⃣ I’ve talked’s “Do 100 Things” idea before. Here’s a great video by struthless that explains how a similar concept works for him.
"Motivation doesn't lead to action, action leads to motivation" - struthless
2️⃣ A couple of months ago, there was a meme about how often certain men think about the Roman Empire. Here’s a great story from Morgan about how she realized that she thinks about the Roman Empire every day.
The Roman Empire was a symbol of masculinity, power, competition, and legacy. I think I get it, I eventually confessed, but I just can’t relate.
Or so I thought. - Morgan
3️⃣ An amazing essay fromabout fatherhood and committing to a process.
We don’t only become fathers when our first child is born. We become fathers anew EVERY SINGLE DAY. Every tomorrow offers the possibility of dusting ourselves off and reclaiming how we want to father. It is an ongoing PRACTICE. - Christian Simamora
Writing of the Week:
I’ve been writing unpolished, around 100-word mini-essays. Just reflections on ideas from podcasts or things on the news. Here are the latest:
Quote of the Week:
"Knowing something is not the same as *doing* something, which is not the same as *wanting* to do something" - John Mark Comer
You can find more of my writing at chr.iswong.com.
Questions, suggestions, complaints? Email me at [email protected].
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Leaving you in peace,