Writing “Content”

I’ve been writing online (“blogging”, cringe) for over 14 years now, and there can be a sometimes strange (and strained) relationship between writing-as-service and writing-as-expression. I’ve mostly written whatever I want, or at least whatever I thought had two or three of this magic combination:

  • interesting to me
  • would be helpful to other people
  • either no one else was doing it or I had an individual (ideally unique) perspective

And yes, sometimes I just wrote whatever.

Over the years, this site has focused on a variety of topics until they’ve covered the ground I wanted to cover or exhausted my interest. I wrote a lot about studying in medical school (choosing books, approaching questions, etc) until I wasn’t interested anymore (not a great financial decision, but hey). I wrote a lot about approaching the residency selection process.

I wrote the book for the Texas JP exam because that test was a stupid hassle and no one had made what I thought should exist. So I did.

I wrote a lot about personal finance specifically for medical students and trainees and especially about student loans, mostly because content on student loans just did not exist at the time (I know, hard to believe). Now it does, and I felt I covered that sufficiently in the book, so I mostly moved on (also not a great financial decision, but hey). I’ll probably return to personal finance again in the future. I still have more to say, but I’d be kidding myself if I pretended even for a second that my opinions are particularly unique or interesting or that this space isn’t being adequately covered (frankly, it’s saturated; there’s plenty of content and almost infinite noise to wade through already).

I’ve written a lot about medical training, radiology, and various topical issues related to organized medicine like board certification (ABR I’m looking at you) or healthcare trends like private equity takeovers. People like these posts. I (still) like writing them. I genuinely think these issues aren’t talked about enough, even though my fly buzzing on the internet probably isn’t going to move the needle much.

I was going through my archives at the end of the year, and I noticed just how much of the writing that I thought was evergreen is slowly aging out. Posts that used to be perennial traffic drivers have eventually lost their mojo. A lot of that may be because “the blog is dead,” and some of it just that Google overall favors fresh content all things being equal, even if the classics are still fire. But some of it is because even things that don’t change quickly sometimes still change slowly. 14 years is a long time on the internet. I guess that’s both a testament to how long I’ve been doing this and also a little sad.

There has never been a shortage of things I’d like to write about. I could easily fill up my days writing full-time, and my collection of potential post ideas and article fragments is comically long. It only gets longer. I get a lot of topic requests, and they’re almost always things I’d be happy to write about given time. But there’s also that unavoidable truth that every yes to one thing is a no to another.

I’d like to have more of my writing be timeless. (Maybe it’s time to go back to fiction too?) We’ll see. I also want to keep being a resource for radiologists and other physician readers, but I also wouldn’t mind writing things that might be interesting to someone who doesn’t work in a hospital. Morgan Housel, who wrote the excellent Psychology of Money, tweeted:

I think “know your audience” can be dangerous advice for writers.

Write stuff you yourself find interesting and entertaining.

Writing for yourself is fun, and it shows. Writing for others is work, and it shows.

One perk of jumping around over time is that I haven’t had to worry too much about audience capture.

As for me, I want you to know this has been fun, and I hope that shows. Thanks for reading.


Internet stranger 01.24.23 Reply

Thanks for writing it, Ben. Your thoughtfulness is appreciated here on the internet. Not many voices like yours.

Ben 01.24.23 Reply

Thank you kindly, internet stranger.

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