My friend Alex was a student on my staff a couple of years ago when he came to me and asked why I, at that time, posted on this site so infrequently.

I was surprised he was aware I even had this blog, much less that he cared how often I wrote. But he challenged me to write more often. He liked reading my stuff.

That conversation sparked a much more consistent writing habit for me. It’s one thing to share your writing publicly. It’s so simple now to publish and post and share on the internet. It’s another thing altogether to write with the expectation that someone actually will read it and care.

Before that conversation with Alex I had been writing without much awareness of an audience. There is great value in writing to better understand what you think, without regard to any audience. But writing with readers in mind will sharpen your thinking and your prose.

I said this last year (which was paraphrased from something I had read online somewhere):

Kind of like how you clean your house so much better when you’re expecting company, writing something with the awareness that others might read it will lead to clearer thinking and better work.

Today happens to be Alex’s birthday. We had lunch together today, and he reminded me again that he’s continuing to read my stuff. And I was reminded how potent an encouraging challenge from a friend can be.

And I’m also reminded that I need to be a more diligent noticer of the art and craft and kindness of others. I need to be like Alex more often (and Tim and Trey and Angie and Emily and other friends who regularly notice my work) and challenge those whose work I admire to offer their best.

Make art, people. Express yourselves. Do your part to make sense of it all and to enjoy the ride we’re all taking together.