Breaking Internet Writing Conventions in 2021

Guo Zhenhao
5 min readDec 31, 2020

Efficient Writing Shouldn’t Overshadow Diverse Writing

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that writing has changed a lot over the past decade. Heck, the first thing I did while drafting this post was plugging the title into a Title Case Converter. And title crafting is just one of the many aspects of writing that have been standardised by the giant matrix that is the internet.

I’m not saying that we should bring back old writing conventions. Popular writing today is concise and allows us to consume information more efficiently. Back in the 2000s, the Internet had no shortage of long-winded articles that were a chore to get through. It’s a good thing that these articles have been buried by Google’s algorithm to make way for more readable, informative content. That said, although today’s writing landscape is a lot leaner, it may be in danger of losing its original purpose.

For me, writing is like pickling thoughts. Words are essentially preserved thoughts that can be transported across the world and stored for later consumption. Contrary to what writing blogs and workshops might suggest, human thought is way more diverse than the handful of saturated Medium themes. While there’s nothing wrong with trying to reach a wider audience through trending topics, every writer should ideally create niches that are uniquely their own. With that, here’s how I’ll be attempting to diverge from constricting norms to develop my own writing style.

Writing can expose you to perspectives you would never have encountered otherwise — Photo by Snapwire via Pexels

Publishing on an Irregular Schedule

This is all about setting up the right conditions for optimal writing. If you write in any capacity, you’ll know that there’s a vast difference between writing when you’re inspired versus otherwise. For better or worse, consistency has become one of the golden rules of content writing. Apparently it boosts your domain authority, but I’m willing to bet that any boost from consistency alone is negligible at best. Otherwise, anyone would be able to land on Google’s first page by publishing poor quality content at 9am everyday.

More importantly, posting uninspiring content turns off both readers and the writer. I certainly don’t have the stomach to upload writing that I’m not proud of every week. Besides, as someone with virtually zero following, uploading at the same time every week is akin to opening a shop on a street where no one’s walking. I’m no social media expert, but I suspect that consistent uploads will only make sense after one of my articles go viral.

One of my favourite YouTubers, Natalie Tran (communitychannel) is someone who never posts on schedule. In fact, her inconsistency was a running joke for awhile. She would promise her viewers to be back soon and her comment box would be flooded with audiences lamenting her abscence. Natalie’s signature comedy style was so well liked that viewers continued holding out for her, even after a four year hiatus. I’m no Natalie Tran, but I’d rather create content worth visiting over and over instead of forcing myself to post on schedule just because.

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that schedules don’t go according to plan anyway — Photo by Zhuo Cheng you via Unsplash

Refusing to Include Numbers in Titles

This is a bit of a lie because I already have some listicles planned. But do a quick Google search on any topic and you might find results pages dominated by listicles promising questionable solutions to your query.

Listicles were effective around 2013 when Buzzfeed discovered the art of clickbait. But today, listicle titles resemble rows of deceptive packaging along grocery isles. When every box is screaming for attention, nothing leaves an impression. Don’t get me wrong, listicles definitely have their place, but I don’t want pointlessly add to the sea of listicles unless it is absolutely warranted.

Yes, I wonder why they’re all the same, too — Photo by Dang Tran via Unsplash

Not Attempting to Get Everything Perfect

There’s so much pressure to get everything right on the first try these days, that it feels like people have forgotten the value of honing one’s craft over years or even decades. When researching on how to write on Medium, I found myself reading success stories of other Medium writers, some of whom claim to have gone viral in as little as four days.

I’m not discounting any of their efforts. In fact, some of them give very legitimate advice. But I’m choosing to take the scenic approach, documenting my journey as I go. What these success stories often don’t mention is the years of accumulated writing and real life experience prior to their explosive success. All these are ingredients that contribute to building compelling stories.

One of my favourite table tennis players is Liu Shiwen also happens to be one of the best in the world. Despite her abilities, Liu only won the World Table Tennis Championships after 10 years of failed attempts. Chinese publications fittingly used the proverb 十年磨一剑 (shí nián mó yī jiàn), which literally translates to ‘sharpening a single sword over ten years’, to describe Liu’s victory. In a world where everyone is constantly looking for the silver bullet to success, masters remind us that there are simply no shortcuts to certain things. Besides, long-awaited victories probably taste sweeter, too.

So Here’s My Contribution to Diversity

I’m just an undergraduate in his final year of university with an increasing awareness of the world out there. But that’s exactly the perspective that I want to represent; a Singaporean millennial on the cusp of entering society. I only get one chance to experience this phase of life, and there’s no better time to talk about something than right when you’re in the heart of it. So I’m going to write fearlessly, however it comes out.

Originally published at http://guozhenhao.wordpress.com on December 31, 2020.

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Guo Zhenhao

If I’m not writing, I’m gathering information