You’ll never be as smart as Nietzsche. But you sure as hell can learn to write like him.
Friedrich Nietzsche knew that his readers wouldn’t understand him. But that didn’t stop him from writing. He’s a weird example for the point I’m about to make, because he tried to write as succinctly and directly as possible, unlike other philosophers who try to be incomprehensible. In his own words (paraphrasing), “some philosophers are afraid of being understood.” Nietzsche was an honest writer, which is why he’s one of the greatest who ever lived. It’s because he was so honest that his books are so hard to understand. We’re used to being deceived by philosopher’s made-up language and theories. Nietzsche wrote metaphorically, in a language that’s difficult to decipher not because it’s vague, but because it’s full of imagery – something us modern people struggle to appreciate. But its not his style that I want you to emulate. I don’t want you to think what Nietzsche thought, or anyone for that matter. I want you to consider emulating his approach to writing; the ‘how’ behind his writing, not the ‘why’.
Nietzsche approached writing as if it were the true test of one’s honesty. Nietzsche is the best example of a writer who wouldn’t care about likes, retweets, followers, or building an audience. And I don’t think that’s because Nietzsche was anti social, though he was a recluse. Nietzsche was a writer whose only reward came from the joy of creating works of “the highest rate,” for the sake of the creative process itself.
If you want to write like Nietzsche, then write honestly. Write what you think. Don’t write what you think you should think because you’ll get more likes and followers that way. The moment you do that is the moment you begin lying to yourself. And once you start lying to yourself, you’re no longer “you,” but a phantom of “you” which caters to what you think the masses want to hear. Your thoughts – your true thoughts – are probably not going to be popular with the masses. Good. They shouldn’t be. If mass-produced products break easily, then what of mass-produced ideas?
If niching down is the way to go, then what better way to niche down than to speak your mind, to go against the crowd?
If you’re writing online, you probably wont be rewarded for writing honestly. At least, not at first. The algorithm doesn’t reward honesty. The algorithm rewards outrage, bad news, screams for attention, clickbait. But you know what does reward honesty? Your conscience. Your conscience will reward you with the reassuring sense that you are fully, totally, completely expressing your thoughts, not the thoughts of whatever ideology or political side or orthodox views happen to be popular.
First, write honestly. Grammar, style, rhythm — the rest will take care of itself.