Headlines up front: it’s the one-year anniversary of this newsletter (more or less), so I’m inviting you to take this quick reader survey to help me discover what this newsletter already is, and what it should become.
Then, if you’re curious, read on for more background on why I’m doing this.
When I started this newsletter last year, I didn’t really know what it was going to be about, and I intentionally avoided deciding up front. I often advise writers to think about their work by imagining a writing hierarchy of needs, like Maslow’s. You shouldn’t worry about the upper levels until you’re certain you’ve mastered the lower levels. And the absolute bottom level of this hierarchy—below finding an audience, or having a clear niche, or even writing well—is just writing regularly.
In the vast majority of cases, aspiring writers—especially aspiring newsletter writers—fail because they don’t actually write enough. So when you’re just starting out, you should remove as many barriers to consistency as you can. That’s why I aim for consistency over quality in my writing, and it’s also why I’ve just been writing about whatever’s on my mind. The last thing I wanted was to pick an overly-specific theme, get stuck coming up with new topics that fit the theme, and then end up not writing anything at all.
The other reason I left this newsletter’s subject matter open-ended is that I believe niches are discovered, not invented. Figuring out what your work is “about” is a continual process of exploration and adjustment. You can’t just sit at your desk trying to craft the perfect elevator pitch for your newsletter. You have to just start writing and see what comes out, and what resonates with other people. A lot of the time, you’ll surprise yourself: this newsletter has already turned out to be very different than I expected when I got started.
But you can’t stay in pure exploration mode forever. I’ve been writing this for a full year, long enough that I’m confident in my ability to generate shelter and food. Now, it’s time to self-actualize.
Historically, this newsletter has been mostly for me: it’s a forcing function to get me to write more. You, as the audience, have been almost incidental (no offense). Your presence motivates me to keep doing this, but your enjoyment has been a secondary consideration. In year two of My Super Secret Diary, I want that to change. I want to refine this newsletter into something a little bit more concrete—something with slightly more describable contents and, yes, maybe even something with an elevator pitch.
Although I have some early thoughts, I’m not actually sure what this newsletter should become yet. I’m not even sure how I’d describe what it currently is. But we’re often the worst judges of our own work, so I suspect you might have a better idea than I do. That’s why I’m asking you to take the reader survey: to tell me what you like and don’t like about this newsletter, what you want to see more and less of, and what you think it’s about.
I’m hoping that your responses will unlock some new insights and inspiration for me, or at the very least, help me understand exactly what it is I’ve been doing for the past year. And from there, I’ll be able to better figure out where I should go from here.
Yours in anticipation (and in my shortest-ever signoff, until I ruined it by adding this parenthetical),