Writing Without Expectations

Something that I’m trying to get past is writing in anticipation of audience responses. Ideally I ought to just say what I want to say, present the reasons for my opinion, and move on. That would be writing without expectations, in terms of how the readers might react.

Writing Without Expectations

It’s reasonable to try to anticipate questions. I can incorporate the answers into the piece, which really strengthens it and increases its clarity. What else will the reader want to know? If I were reading this, what other information would I be looking for? That’s not so much an expectation of the audience reaction, but just doing my job as a writer.

There are also times when it’s good to consider possible objections. When I’m doing things in an unusual way, or have a point of view that goes against the norm, it makes sense to just jump in and say “…and this is why“. I tend to include the pros and cons, to show that I have looked at things from all angles before making a decision. Again, though, this isn’t so much an expectation of how the readers might respond to my piece, and more about me being thorough.

Where expectations get me is usually in tone. My first drafts sometimes come across as defensive. I’m responding to a comment that hasn’t been made yet. I anticipate that someone is going to be dismissive, or obtuse, or flat-out shitty, and what I write sounds like a rebuttal.

The result is that I undermine my own argument. I put counterarguments into peoples’ head that they might not have considered. “I never even realized you don’t do X until you went on defiant rant about why you never do X“. I’m over-explaining things that don’t need to be explained at all. It’s just insecurity, really. Well, and an awareness of what the internet is like in 2019. Can you blame me?

So instead of feeling the need to justify why I don’t do X, I’m trying to focus on explaining why I do Y. Not instead of X, in a compare-and-contrast. Just lean into the glory of Y. Celebrate it’s merits. Talk about why it’s great for me, and for this project. Deal with comments about X if and when they come up.

 

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1 Comment

  1. I do this as well, not just in writing but sometimes in conversation, too. I think the process of blogging throughout last year helped me get rid of it a little, become more secure in my argument. It also helped establish, both to the audience and myself, that I am not a single piece of a statement, but rather part of a continuum of argumentation, with each piece giving context to those before and after. I still have my moments of preemptive defense, but I’d like to think it’s gotten better.

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