It's about you

The Monday Visual #10

Welcome to another Monday. If you didn’t get the chance last week, I recorded another podcast where I sigh a lot and hit a gong. I introduced a new feature called B**nned Words as well. I then struggled to write a thing on Friday, and it ended up coming out over the weekend. It was all about how you see yourself after you’ve finished your audience-building. What happens when the audience is built?

Anyway, on with today. And it’s all about you.


Well actually, it isn’t about you. But you’ll think it’s about you.

It’s actually about me and a cautionary tale about how I used to take things personally.

I jumped on the Twitter train properly in May 2020 to finally ‘take things seriously’. To put into perspective of how seriously I was taking it:

  • I wrote 10 tweets per day for over a year

  • I replied to everybody

  • I stayed consistent—which is harder than it sounds when you’re dealing with Twitter reply guys

When it rolled around to May 2021 I started to reflect on my relationship with Twitter. Whilst there’s obviously postives to discuss—I’d built an audience of thousands and people now paid attention to my work—there seemed to be more negatives than positives creeping into my consciousness.

  • Rarely 20 minutes could go by without there being a urge to check Twitter. I’d liken the relationship I had as an urge—almost similar to needing a cigarette.

  • I was intensely struggling to write long-form. At the time I was working on a new book and I was finding it very difficult to focus and write any longer than 380 characters at a time.

  • I couldn’t read a physical book. This was a weird one, because I read my Kindle reguarly, but I couldn’t focus on a physical book. It was if my brain was rejecting things that weren’t screens.

  • I’d wanted to start a newsletter and also blog but I couldn’t be consistent with writing anything longer than tweets.

So. I’d built an audience, but at what cost? I’d destroyed my focus, destroyed my ability to write long-form and destroyed my ability to write creatively in a blog1.

What was really the problem here though? Was it that Twitter had taken over my brain?

Yes, to a small extent. But that wasn’t the big issue. That was a meta issue.

My big issue had become my relationship with my ‘audience’. To say I wanted to please them would be to understate the various stages of my journey this last year.

I was taking things very personally. I was watching the numbers so closely that every letter of Twitter-word I wrote dripped with desperation.

I created things because I was desperate for the retweets and the likes. I chose what things I was going to say next based on what I thought others would like.

Clearly, this wasn’t me because I stopped doing it (eventually).

My only goal was to get you to like me, by not being me.

Eventually I saw the light and started playing. I won’t bore you with the middle of the journey today, as this was just meant to be a cautionary tale.

Learn from my mistakes. Or don’t. Maybe they weren’t mistakes.

Maybe I’m wrong. It is after all received wisdom that we should make things because other people would like to consume them. We should be building things for an audience.

Maybe.

I began May 2020 with the idea to make content to build an audience. I sit here today wanting to destroy my audience and create for me.

1

Side note: if you look around at popular Twitter ‘writers’ you’ll find most don’t write long-form very often. They’re two different skills and extended Twitter-writing appears to atrophy the other one. Thomas and his community made me realise this one.