Eric Karjaluoto

Why I Stopped Writing

TL;DR: Imposter syndrome got the best of me. So, I took a break from writing here, and lost a valuable outlet. Now, I’m taking another run at this blog.


“It doesn’t pay enough.” That was my (unintentionally) glib reply to a neighbor’s question: “Why haven’t you written any new articles?” I immediately regretted the response.

My real answer was complicated, and we were at a potluck. I wanted to save those around us from a long-winded explanation. I also thought I was being funny. (I am almost never funny when I try to be.)

What you end up doing

When I started blogging on Ideas on Ideas, I didn’t know what to write about. So, I started with what I was doing: operating a design studio. Something clicked, as designers found a commonality in the posts. A few people reached out to say (mostly) nice things.

Along the way, I wrote two books. The first meandered but had its moments. The second was bland but contained useful information. Both were too long. I learned a lot from writing those books.

I wrote for design magazines. I contributed guest-author posts. I also started writing on this blog. There were other projects, too. For example, I noodled with a blog about living purposefully.

I also wrote for pay. I crafted mission statements and brand strategies. I helped shape creative briefs and design directions. I wrote lots of copy for websites.

It’s curious: I went into the design profession to make visuals. Nevertheless, most of my work involves organizing words.

Books the Author Regrets — But “Grew From”

Anxiety and me

I stopped (and started and stopped, and started and stopped) writing on this blog for many reasons. One related to time. I don’t do anything in moderation. When I write, it takes over. This means putting client projects aside. It also means posting too many articles—and worrying that I’m bugging readers.

Fear of what others think is a problem for me. I worry that writing in the first person reads as self-involved. I then worry that writing in the second person appears bossy.

I regret the contradictions from one post to the next. I fret the possibility of giving a reader bad advice. I lose sleep over receiving an email that tells me I’m a shitty person.

Most of my articles are self-directed—sort of like I’m coaching myself around obstacles. Yet, I felt like many posts read as the blathering of some know-it-all. I kept asking myself: “Who am I to lend advice to anyone when I still get so much wrong?”

I figured it was time to be quiet. Actually, I aimed to be invisible. Read more. Reflect more. Go unnoticed. I’d come back and write once I had figured something out… but I don’t think it works that way.


Sometimes I wish learning was transactional. E.g.: Take a course and come out with x knowledge. In my experience, learning isn’t like that. Rather, it seems like you struggle to make sense of a challenge—and continually bump into new ones. What if you never truly know? What if you just make attempts and reflect upon them?

When I don’t write on this blog, I end up sending emails to myself. These help me make sense of matters I grapple with. I know everyone functions differently. For me, though, writing helps organize thoughts and make sense of situations.

It’s not only that. Writing allows me to get thoughts out of my head. I don’t know how your brain works, but mine obsesses over challenges, scans for patterns, and proposes hypotheses. Much of this is useless, or nonsense, but I do occasionally stumble upon insights that make sense. (These are almost always obvious in retrospect.)

I also write to connect. I’m an introvert and spend many hours on my own. This suits me fine. But, when I write I feel linked to others. This might be of little significance to you, but it’s important to me.

Two introverts broker a mutually beneficial arrangement.
Two introverts broker a mutually beneficial arrangement.

Where do I go from here?

I’m not sure that I should hit Publish on this post. It feels like an apology or cop-out. I can’t get over the desire to write, though. Before starting again I wanted to explain myself.

I am not an expert. I can’t say what works in design, marketing, or business. I have lots of opinions, but many are inaccurate. The best I can do is tell you what I noticed—or experienced.

I see this blog like a diary. What’s contained aren’t essays or position-pieces. They’re letters from me to me (and possibly you). I’ll try to post one article a week. This should give me enough time to reflect on a topic. I also hope this posting frequency is just infrequent enough to not burden you.

Mostly, I’ll write about making things, and running a small business. My work revolves around these two topics. I know something about both of them—yet they continue to elude me in new ways.

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