Michael Nielsen on the risks of writing

Catherine Olsson asked on twitter:

I’ve believed for years that I would benefit from writing more, but I keep choking on it because I can’t settle on a topic, audience, or venue that doesn’t feel too risky or too useless. (Which is entangled with anticipating either too-large or too-limited reach.) Any advice? (#)

And Michael Nielsen answered:

I’ve felt those things! Rather sharply at times — it’s so much harder to write without a good audience! Of course, sometimes writers create an audience, and that can be a beautiful creative act.

I love this quote from Ted Carpenter via @vihartvihart’s They Became What They Beheld: Medium, Message, Youtubery:

“Artists don’t address themselves to audiences; they create audiences. That artist talks to himself out loud. If what he has to say is significant, others hear and are affected.”
— Ted Carpenter in his foreword to They Became What They Beheld (#)

On risk: good writing is often risky. It’s inherently transformative: you think things through so deeply you create a unique point of view. That’s scary. What if people are offended? Or think you’re stupid? Or wrong? But it’s worth the price, because in return you get personal growth (#)

I don’t say these things lightly. In my archives I have multi-thousand word critiques (mostly email) from people I admire greatly… telling me how disappointed they were in something or another I wrote. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that hurts. But worth it, IMO. (#)


Category  On Writing
Tags  Michael Nielsen · Being in Public