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Write for Yourself

Getting past the distractions, excuses, and self-doubt

Write.as
Photography by Ron McClenny

I love to write. As a kid, I would wake up from a vivid dream and start writing a story about it. In high school, I wrote moody poems about feeling ignored by my siblings—classic middle child behavior. In college, I took classes and wrote essays on things that excited me. I quickly forgot everything I wrote on the Canterbury Tales and Jack the Ripper, but I always felt proud of myself for writing.

I still write a lot. I write for work and I volunteer my writing to a few organizations too. But I don’t often write just for the sake of it; just for myself.

Writing is really hard. When I think about other people seeing my personal writing, I feel anxious. It’s not easy to put your heart into something and send it out in the world to be judged. I think it’s the same with any creative process; it feels personal and vulnerable and nerve-wracking.

To make matters worse, my creative impulses to write are often buried under the pressure of self-promotion. I love to write but it’s too daunting to think about how to “brand” myself as a writer. “Do I have to start a blog? What if no one follows it? What if it's awful?” Pressure, self-doubt, fear, and endless distractions steadily wear away at the creative impulses I have, and I usually decide to try again another day.

Today is different—I am writing! It’s evening here, and I’ve got the “dark mode” of my writing platform switched on. I have 3 plain-text fonts to pick from, a word count (278 so far), and nothing else. It’s peaceful, clean, and free from distractions. I’ve started a few writing projects, just for myself, and I’m excited about them.

The platform I’m using is called Write.as. Founded by Matt Baer in 2015, this text-editor is essentially a place to be creative, away from ads, social media, and other distractions. It’s a minimalist writing and publishing platform that is primarily focused on privacy and personal expression.

Write.as helps you publish to the world, but it doesn’t push you to promote yourself to a target audience. There are no likes or comments or social features. Blogs are unlisted by default so people will only be able to read your writing if you share a link to it or choose to make it more public. Even better, you can write anonymously. It’s free to get started, although there are some helpful apps and features available that you may want to invest in.

The Write.as platform is helping me get past a lot of my barriers when it comes to writing. Its clean, minimalist design puts me in a good headspace to write and keeps me focused. The platform also puts me at ease when it comes to my online privacy. So much of our personal information and online activity can be collected and used in sly or downright nefarious ways. But Write.as doesn’t watch or track me or show me ads. When I write anonymously, my real name doesn’t show up on the article like it would on social media. In other words, I can write whatever I want because I’m the only person who will see it—unless I explicitly choose to share it.

Finally, Write.as removes the stress I feel about branding myself as a writer or having my work judged by others. Without that pressure of a target audience, I feel immediately more creative and at ease. I’m not worried about what anyone else will think of my work; I’m enjoying writing for writing’s sake.

This is a great tool for anyone who loves to write, but it’s perfect for those of us who keep finding reasons not to. I’m now finding that the pressure and distractions are not the problems they once were, and I’m rediscovering how wonderful it feels to express myself through writing. I haven’t written any new vivid-dream-stories or moody poems yet, but I feel the same sense of excitement and comfort with writing that I did when I was younger. And it’s all because I’m finally able to focus on the one person I really want to write for: myself.

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