Writing with Sincerity

The world of writing is saturated. Words and opinions fall like so many drops of rain until the streets are flooded and the words have nowhere else to go.

Everyone wants to be heard and understood. Everyone wants to have value. So we write to be heard, to be valued and understood. But there is so much to take in, so many voices clambering one over the other. How am I going to be heard over the masses? What sets me apart from them? What makes my words worth hearing over the words of someone else?

I speak and no one listens. The silence makes me panic. So I plot and connive. I think of ways to be heard. I read the Freshly Pressed posts and develop an algorithm called “How to Get Freshly Pressed in 90 Seconds or Less.” I read all the articles about boosting traffic and growing readership.

And I cheat myself out of the truth.

I write shallow words to get a reaction and a boost in statistics. Sometimes the games work. Sometimes I feel good about myself because I get people to look at me and the numbers tell me I had a good day. But then, a month later, six months later, I read the words I wrote and their shallow trickery echoes off the walls. And I know I cheated. I cheated you and I cheated myself into believing cheap easy words were good enough so long as I got a reaction, so long as the numbers told me I had a good day.

When I’m honest with myself, I know the words I’ve written with the most sincerity are often the words with the least reaction from readers. It sucks to speak from the heart and not be heard. But when I read back over the words written from my heart, the words that printed my soul onto paper, those are the words that really matter. Those are the words that show me who I was, am, and am becoming. Those are the words that, even if ignored by others, will last and matter when the stats are forgotten and the euphoria of being noticed has faded away.

Why do I write? To be heard? Yes. But I realize now, finally, that I write not only to be heard by you, dear reader, but to be heard by myself. I write to hear myself speak out the breathings of my heart. I write to understand what doesn’t make sense until I can read it back in words articulate. I write to remember. To remember what I was thinking and feeling in a different time and place. I write to see who I was and better understand who I am becoming. I write because I can’t stop the words, however ignored or misunderstood they may be—I must put the words down in ink to know and remember. I write not just for you, but for me too. If we are to know and remember then cheap words won’t do.

Donald Miller said:

“The writing life really is like farming. If you keep planting and harvesting the soil without letting it rest, the crops suffer. In an age where everybody is competing for attention, a sense of panic can set in and we end up producing material that feels rushed and forced and written from a place of desperation rather than creative inspiration. But quality will win in the long run. And to create quality, you have to let the soil recover.”

I won’t cheat you or myself with cheap words written out of “desperation rather than creative inspiration.”

This is no game.

These are the breathings of my heart.

“I love you, and because I love you, I would sooner have you hate me for telling you the truth than adore me for telling you lies.” Pietro Aretino

39 thoughts on “Writing with Sincerity

  1. Very thoughtful and well-written, Kari. Four thumb-ups for this!
    I felt the same way. At first, it was quite intimidating on how I should gain readers. But as I write more and more (or should I say ‘blog more and more’) I found pure joy in writing and blogging, that I don’t really care about who’s going to read or see it. Anyway I always have my #1 supporter reading my writing: my darling husband! 😀
    Cheers 🙂

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  2. I’ve been meaning to comment but just got the chance. This is excellent and helped me so much with my current post. I’ve seen the stats just go up and up and then the times when they are just so-so and I question and doubt and wonder “What’s wrong with me?” It’s no use trying to play clever tricks just to get numbers. Being true to who you are is of so greater value. During my daily Bible reading I’ve read so many times where numbers were just pretty meaningless to God, even stirred him to anger. I have to do a bit of self-talk but I finally get it.
    Thanks for putting into words what I couldn’t. I’m probably gonna reblog this some time.
    Peace,
    Alexandria

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    • Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts. Sometimes I think being able to see the stats is a curse :] I’ve just started taking breaks from the stats altogether by not looking at them. I’m trying to think of this space as a journal I share with others, not me with a megaphone screaming for attention :]

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  3. In the midst of the frustration many of us students were feeling to be able to write a decent graduate paper one day in one of my graduate classes, my professor who is a successful author himself said something that has stuck with me. He said that what we were writing was nothing necessarily original or new, that everyone has similar thoughts and feelings in their own hearts. “However,” he said, “not everyone is able to find the words to write what they feel and think. This is why it is a special gift to be able to write.” This has helped me when I’ve felt “unheard”. I find I write better when I don’t care about statistics or if I ever do get “Freshly Pressed”. I write because I love to and it helps me process things and understand better! Happy writing!

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  4. Simple. The truth on why we write. Kari, your writing is wonderful. I loved this post. I do nothing anymore to gain readers. Maybe it will take off or maybe not. Nonetheless, I will write. I write for me.
    -Michael

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  5. What a beautiful post. Just when I was getting discouraged and thinking about writing shallow words, you’ve reminded me to continue to be genuine, even if no one’s reading. This couldn’t have came at a better time :). Thanks for your honesty, and allowing us to see your vulnerability.

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  6. Your words are very sweet, Kari. I listen. Write for yourself first, the rest will come. Sometimes your words inspire me. Sometimes they are humorous… maybe not by design… I enjoy those times. I hear your heart beat.

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  7. Bravo! Excellent post from your heart. And I agree. Writing for ourselves is the most important thing we can do…because that is what will enhance us as a person (whether we have a following of 1 or 1,000 or 100,000). Thanks for the great reminder.

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  8. when I first started my blog, I stumbled upon your writing. I was at once inspired and impressed. Your words pulled me into your world and I realized that yours was a blog that I wanted mine to aspire to, if you know what I mean. I look forward to the freshness in your posts. I was so thrilled the first time you “liked” one of my posts. It made my day, week and month. The gift of your writing is that, a gift and I am so thankful for being allowed to partake of this rare gift. DAF

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  9. this is what my Hubby just reminded me of yesterday, write from my heart, not to people please. i started out writing from my heart and then started to sink into people pleasing. i also have to remember to not find my value in stats…great post!

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  10. “Confess to yourself in the deepest hour of the night whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. Dig deep into your heart, where the answer spreads its roots in your being, and ask yourself solemnly. Must I write?” – Rainer Maria Rilke

    This is why we write. Any other reason is a betrayal.

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  11. The riskiest writing we do is when we go further than we’ve ventured before. It’s also the best work. Keep true to yourself and the good will come when it should!

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  12. Very well done Kari! It is when you write from your heart and soul that I see the real you come shining through. And those are by far and away your best articles.

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  13. This blog most accurately depicts my own internal struggle: writing because I am a writer or writing to get attention. It’s a conundrum. Thank you for your thoughts on the matter.

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