Writing for the Void

Erin Lynch
3 min readFeb 3, 2019

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As a new writer, one of the things you have to accept if you decide to put pen to paper is that most of the time you are writing for the void.*

Even in a hyper-connected online environment like the internet, audiences are hard to come by. When you first start writing, though, they are guaranteed to be non-existent. But having zero or few readers as you start out is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s true that most of what you send into the void will have minimal impact, and that’s okay. That time can be harnessed for good.

Getting your start means no one knows you. You’re making the sound of one hand clapping. But in that silence is promise. Readers don’t know how you write because you’re still developing—you don’t really know how you write either. That silence is a wonderful space to create in.

The period where nobody knows who you are is peaceful. Working in anonymity allows you to toil unfettered as you continue to hammer out things like voice and style. It can be a period of incredible growth without the worries and burdens that come with outside criticism.

Writing, much like designing, is an act of passion. Because of that it can feel a little off putting to push content into the void with no noticeable return. We want our passion to be consumed. We want our viewpoints to be acknowledged, and rightly so.

The period where nobody knows who you are is peaceful. Working in anonymity allows you to toil unfettered as you continue to hammer out things like voice and style. It can be a period of incredible growth without the worries and burden that comes with outside criticism.

Perhaps you’re feeling like you’re giving a lot of effort but with very little return. That’s normal. I still struggle with that from time-to-time myself. It’s important to remember, though, that we do what we do out of a love for creating, not the need for superficial accolades, vanity metrics and attention.

Along those lines, it shouldn’t matter whether you develop a huge following or if your work is only read by a few close friends and family. The act of writing is a learning process in and of itself. You’re not just learning you how to write — putting words to paper codifies the knowledge you already have.

Huge audience or none at all, writing is a solitary act…until it’s not. Use the quiet time as you get started to solidify the basics. Remember your passion for the written word is enough…even when it’s just for an audience of one.

* I refer to the void in the context of the internet as the publishing medium, and in conjunction with the author who is just starting to publish work that is not widely seen and not heavily interacted with.

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Erin Lynch

Designer, writer, pixel articulator, educator, and neurodivergent human. Subscribe to my newsletter, Past Tense, at erinlynch.substack.com