5 realisations that helped me write regularly
September 26, 2012productivity
I was recently talking with Eytan Levit, a really interesting founder who’s had a lot of amazing experiences. We were chatting about some of his current challenges, and amongst some things to do with the startup, blogging also came up as something Eytan wanted to find regularity in. I’m happy that our chat triggered him to start writing again.
I’ve also since spoken to Andy, Alyssa and Sunil, who are getting into regular blogging and seem to be going through some of the experiences I had at the start of my blogging journey. I thought sharing some of my realisations about what held me back might help people create a habit quicker than I did.
I’ve now written over 50 articles on this blog over the last two years, and I’ve recently successfully written an article every week for the last 5 months. Luckily people have noticed this, and seem to enjoy the articles, and as a result I get a few people asking me how I’ve kept up blogging as a habit. This triggered me to think about the key things that helped me:
1. Research or strong points are not necessary
I used to often believe that I needed some very solid research to back up any thought I penned down in an article. I also frequently found myself thinking that my ideas or experience were not interesting or valuable enough for others.
I’ve since realised that by simply writing from a personal experience perspective, sharing lots of details about any topic I’ve recently touched on in my startup, personal projects or thoughts about life, I usually creating content that was interesting for people to read.
2. Delaying an article with the belief spending longer will make it better usually just means it won’t get written
I used to create a draft in Tumblr every time I had an idea for a blog post. Then I’d let it sit there for a while, because I believed the idea wasn’t fully formed yet, or I didn’t have enough points to share about the topic. I believed by delaying, the perfect post would eventually come to mind.
What I’ve realised is that there is no better time to write the article than when the thought first enters your mind. I should only write it at another time if I simply can’t open my laptop and write it all the way through right at that moment. The content is freshest when it first appears in my mind, and in that state I write the best posts.
I’ve gotten much better at this over time, but I have 10s of drafts lying in Tumblr from the early days when this caught me out time and time again. If you delay, the more likely outcome is that it just won’t get written.
3. We should fear not publishing articles, rather than fearing the bad outcomes of putting something out there
Over time, the concept of “shipping” started to really fascinate me. I forced myself to, despite it being uncomfortable, “ship” everything I did earlier and earlier. Whether a product, a blog post, a speaking opportunity, I’d quit delaying and just put it out there or say “yes” to speaking.
One of my biggest learnings in the last year is that there is immense power in doing a huge volume of work. If I write a blog post every week, I learn a massive amount about what works, and it gives me much more inspiration for more articles. Also, if I write each week, I’m gradually reaching more people, growing my connections on Twitter and Facebook, and putting myself in a better position overall. I know now, that if I don’t publish one week, I’m missing out on these benefits. Therefore, I actually fear not shipping.
4. When I have a strong connection between writing and my higher level goals and purpose, it’s easy to write
One of my aspirations for some time which has driven many of my actions around writing and helping startup founders, is that I eventually want to be a fantastic advisor and angel investor for other startups. I want to be the kind of advisor who has been through many different experiences, and has a lot of thoughts about startup challenges and solutions right in my mind.
This higher level purpose is what often helps me go through the tougher times, since I need that experience first-hand in order to help others. It’s also what helps me continually write, because I know that if I write a blog post about a topic, it is always very clear in my mind from then onwards. If someone asks advice on something I’ve written about, it’s very easy to help them and add a lot of value.
5. Choosing a schedule for writing is a great hack to ensure regularity
Finding a pattern and rhythm for writing is really helpful of course. I’ve found that once I get 3. and 4. very clear in my head, that I fear that I’ll fail to put something out there, and that I attach my writing to a higher level purpose, then it is much easier to establish a regular writing habit. In this way, I’ve been able to write consistently once a week for the last 5 months.
In the early days of my blog, I set myself a rule that I would always write on a Sunday, and always publish by noon. This worked very well, and it also meant that people began to notice my pattern and look forward to the content. I follow a similar pattern now - I always write on the second day of my weekend (whilst here in Tel Aviv that’s been Saturday, normally it is Sunday).
Are there any cool realisations you’ve had whilst working towards a regular blogging or writing schedule?
Photo credit: Kartikay Sahay