Driven To Write : Three Years Old and Still Proudly Uninfluential

The Editor is amazed at quite how quickly time flies. Is it really three years?

Image: carwallpapers-ru
Possibly the most DTW car of all. Image: carwallpapers-ru

One most inclement evening in February 2014 two of my principals convened in the snug of a South London hostelry. The webpages of Driven to Write went ‘live’ that day, meaning the public were free to peruse its content. Sean and Eóin had already stocked the site with pieces written over several previous weeks. Now it could be seen. Think of it like opening a new restaurant. Would customers come? Would they want what was on offer? Had the toilets been cleaned?

Our readers current champion, the very fine Peugeot 406. Image: Autoevolution
Our readers’  current champion, the very fine Peugeot 406. Image: Autoevolution

As Sean and Eóin toasted the moment, they had no real idea what it would amount to, but did suspect that there existed other motoring enthusiasts who also felt increasingly ill-served by traditional media that seemed to communicate ever-more in shorter articles of ever-increasing vapidity.

  • Listicles: The Ten Reasons To Buy A 911!
  • Exclamation Points!! Why You Need Them!!!!
  • Hyperbole: “How the new M3 rewrites the rulebook!!”

Throughout their exploratory discussions, the founders appeared to have been kidnapped by a half-formed phrase repeated in the manner of a Puccini (or Lloyd-Webber) chorus: the impenetrable ‘if we build it, they will come’.

Honda 1300 rear suspension

Well, despite my own scepticism (based on seven decades of freelance work, for which I have invoiced) their faith appears to be justified. Three years on from that dark and stormy evening in Streatham, a more detailed picture has emerged as to the manner of edifice that has been created. From a slow start over the early months, readership has grown steadily and, in 2016, the number of visitors doubled over the previous year. If we were a provincial art gallery we would be overjoyed with such traffic. And if we had charged just 1p a view, I could have paid off my wine merchant.

1976 Jaguar XJ-S refuelling. They must have done a lot of this on that road trip: uncredited photographer, Motor Sport April 1976.
Jaguar XJ-S refuelling. They must have done a lot of this: uncredited photographer, Motor Sport April 1976.

What also heartens, especially in view of the tendency towards a degree of parochialism presently noticeable in DTW’s de facto home country, are the many lands from which our readership originate. Driven to Write has readers 36 hours a day: from midnight in New Zealand to midnight on the Western coast of North America. You never sleep. It seems that we don’t either.

In terms of popularity you, the readers, are as hard to predict as is our choice of daily subject matter. The top ranked article of 2016, by some margin, was Richard’s retrospective piece on the Peugeot 406 (I was reluctant to run it, frankly) and it also appears that our readership is particularly fascinated by the Citroën Cactus, the Lancia Thesis, the next (!) Opel Senator, as well as by the 1991 Fiat Tipo and the names of Hyundai’s colour range (all articles I also resisted vehemently as trivial or irrelevant). If nothing else, this suggests a readership with reasonably arcane automotive tastes, which I suppose shouldn’t really be too much of a surprise at this point.

cactusBut while we might slap each other’s editorial backs for the steady increase in readership – not very straightforward given our respective geographical locations – we owe any success that we have to you, our highly literate, informed and engaged readers. Thank you for responding so positively to what Driven to Write is offering, whether commenting or, in some cases, contributing full articles. And for those of you who just view us without commenting, thank you for doing so and we hope that, one day, we might hear from you.

26 thoughts on “Driven To Write : Three Years Old and Still Proudly Uninfluential”

  1. As a very frequent reader and not-so-frequent contributor to the comments I feel honoured to be the first to congratulate the mighty DTW army for your conquering the automotive world – or at least a part thereof that serves as a shelter for motoring enthusiast refugees being alienated by journalistic politics of their mother countries.
    Keep up the good work!

    1. Hi Daniel:
      Thanks very much indeed. We are very pleased to have delighted and perhaps informed our readers. I also feel I’ve learned a lot from the responses we’ve garnered. It’s been mind-expanding and pleasing to have a window on people’s diverse views.

  2. As a long time lurker of this site it is time to step out of the shadows to express my appreciation to the contributors to this non-influental but fine site for the subjects of different kinds or sorts. Sometimes unexpected, but always entertaining, aspects and views of our common automotive interest.

    I found DTW in the summer/fall of 2015 when I finally felt mature enough (but not too mature to dare) and fulfilled the dream of riding and owning a motorcycle. In the unexplainable ways of internet I somehow ended up reading Sean Patricks piece (Handlebars) of why he rides motorcycles. A great read which put clear words to my own thoughts and perceptions in disarray about riding motorbikes. Looking for more quality reads I found many great pieces on this site which I have enjoyed ever since. So, thumbs up and keep up the good work!

    …and also a thank you to the commenters for adding insightful and often amusing angles to the topics. Also ideas for new business models (e.g. high-riding / c-pillar decals) for a prosperous future for DTW…

    (My native language is not English, so please overlook misspellings etc.)

    1. Hi Markus:
      I find it gratifying that non-native English speakers find DTW repays the effort. Thanks for your comment and support and look forward to your continues lurking and/or comments!

    2. Markus. Thanks for the kind words and a belated welcome to the DTW community…

  3. Huge congratulations to everyone involved in this enterprise.

    DtW has got so much right – a refusal to entertain click bait is balanced by all that is good about t’internet: accessibility and the opportunity to interact and share with like-minded people, no matter where in the world they may live.

    I might even get round to submitting an article some day…

  4. Happy Birthday DTW, as has already been cited, a welcome change to the regurgitated content found elsewhere.

    The articles are of a consistent high quality and the user comments always bring a chuckle.

    I wish you all continued success.

    1. Thanks Melle and Sanjay.
      Simon Kearne is too inebriated to say it (Tesco Finest manzanila, reduced to clear) but we appreciate your kind words. I am not sure there was a more precisely defined wish other than to write what we liked (or more precisely they – Sean and Eoin and Simon Kearne – as I joined a bit later). Plus Astras.

    2. Richard, does that make you the ne plus Astra of automotive commentators perchance?

  5. Hooray for DTW! The only place to ever accept one of my written submissions outside of court.

    Am I right in thinking that the website sprang from Car Magazine’s online community?

    1. Yes, indeed it did. It was for a while an excellent community which I joined quite late in the day and was very pleased to find. Alas, unlike DTW, its members were not really appreciated by its hosts, except as clickbait. Fair enough for a Bauer media organ, but it was rubbing it in our faces to dump several years of interesting posts during the site revamp.

    2. Yes, it did. They probably didn’t care for our articles displacing attention from their ones. There was a window on the front page showing “latest comments” which were usually for the Community posts and not for the official stuff.
      I garnered 33,000 views for my CX article before I deleted it from the Car pages.

    3. It was a poor chain of reasoning that led to the Car community being shuttered. I understand the business arguments, the difficulty of moderation being the foremost. But failing to foster a forum for the views of readers betrays the prescriptive, patricianal attitude that is hollowing out print journalism. I am glad that DTW had the strength to survive and thrive once uprooted. Long may it continue.

  6. Eoin: actually I don’t know an astranomic amount about the cars apart from the styling. I’ve no methodic research as I have on the Thesis, 406 or 604 or Trevi. I imagine committed Astralogists know all the engines and upgrades but care little either way for the appearance.

    1. Can I propose to Richard and Eoin that they co-author a post segueing neatly from Lancia to Vauxhall entitled ‘Per Ardea Ad Astra’?

    2. Sean: I’ve been labouring on a piece titled ‘To Infiniti and Beyond’ but I’m having difficulty getting it off the ground…

  7. May I add my voice to the praise and congratulations for your third birthday. DTW seems unique in that there is interest in current and even future trends coupled with a depth of knowledge of the development of the motor car and its place and relevance in society. Its virtues are historical perspective, an attempt at a broad geographic view, egalitarianism regarding all contributors and most important No Exclamation Marks!!!! Is Archie celebrating in a hostelry or did he blag a drive to cover the Mont Carlo Rally?

    1. Hi:
      Thanks Barry, very kind.
      Alas Archie Vicar is no longer with us. He ascended the great off ramp more than three decades ago but he is surely with us in spirit and Simon Kearne could be said to carry on the Craven “A”/Stanwell/half corona of continuity (though he doesn’t smoke at all).

  8. Congratulations, DTW!
    I’m glad to have found, some two years ago, this blog. For me, it wasn’t uninfluential at all, making me think about some of my automotive preconceptions and letting me learn new things that I’d never have found in any car magazine.
    I really hope that the site will go on for a while with still enough topics to write about (I still have two or three ideas to contribute, should they ever dry out). I also enjoy the quantity of content – articles as well as comments. Enough to keep it interesting, but not as much as to be constantly overwhelmed.

  9. A hearty and belated congratulations!
    I wished I’d been able to read more, comment more and contribute more, but circumstances have prevented me. The site is wonderful, the writing beautiful, colourful and engaging, the intelligence of the writers excellent and the topic choices: odd. A great site which would could only be improved by more articles on knitted vests and canvas bags.

    1. Thank you Mark and good to hear from you. We’ve reserved authorship of that post on The Genesis Of The Tanktop for you, so any time you have the time …..

  10. I am a new reader and like what I see.
    A suggestion for improvement: could you try and organise your archives of old material a little so that it’s more easily accessible?

    1. Hello vaujot and thanks for visiting. When we started we didn’t anticipate this site being as prolific as it is – we thought maybe 2 or 3 posts a week. As it has turned out the archiving thing has turned out to be a headache which the WordPress platform doesn’t seem to have an easy fix for. We’re aware of the problem and will try to do something about it in the future. It’s a pity that a lot of the good stuff from months or years back gets overlooked.

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