The writing process is just a stream of thought that I lock into for long enough to pour out a hundred words or so.Gemm 2019
On a good day the words just flow, I don’t have to try and I don’t have to sit and hope that something interesting comes to mind.
But on other days it’s a little more challenging.
It feels like there is a blockage or resistance, the words come to me with much less ease. It’s not about self-expression or inspiration, it’s about getting it done.
I’ve taught myself to write on both days. It’s become less about good and bad writing days (and potentially giving in to writers block), instead it’s about accepting that some writing days will be easier than others.
If only it was as easy as 1, 2, 3!
Something for you to refer back to when you need it.
Write down how you feel. Write until you have nothing left to write. Write without trying to be perfect, let it be messy and make no sense. The important part is getting it all out and down on paper. Sometimes our feelings of being overwhelmed are caused by a build up of feelings or words unspoken. Even though writing them out won’t directly change the situation often all you really need is to let it out.
Exercise and get your body moving. It could be skipping, a HIIT workout, dancing or whatever works for you. Exercise releases endorphins that make you feel good but the movement also allows you to dispel the heavy energy of a low mood. If you don’t feel like doing a proper workout, have a solo dance party instead.
Listen to music that will boost your mood. I’ve previously written about having a pick me up playlist, it’s so easy to create and it actually works. Once you get into associating certain songs with boosting your mood you’ll get to a point where just a few seconds of the intro will be enough to make you start to feel better.
Looking through drafts is a great way to observe your growth as a writer. Many time you come across things your current self would never write and so you press delete. Other times you come across good ideas that are poorly written out and you then have the option to just delete them and start over or to tend to them with a fresh perspective.
I believe that most writers drafts or deleted content far outweighs what they’re shared and put out into the world.
It’s quite obvious that the things that get deleted aren’t considered worth sharing. Perhaps, it had been in your drafts for a few months or even years but every time you went back to it, you didn’t really like it enough to work on it a little more and complete it. Maybe it just wasn’t a good idea, it happens and it’s perfectly okay.
Then, there are the drafts.
There are days when you write, write and write some more. This results in an influx of ideas and some of these ideas are ‘microwavable’ whilst others are more like seeds.
The ‘microwave’ ideas don’t take much time to be brought to life. They’re not necessarily instant but if you set a little time to work on them you can finish them fairly easily. They don’t stay drafts for long.
Then there are the ideas that are like seedlings, these ones require time, care and attention. They can’t be rushed and if if you ever try to hurry them along, you’ll never be happy with the result. But if you’re willing to have patience these ideas will flourish when they finally come alive in all their glory.
I recently realised that I enjoy writing about current events.
One of my most read posts is about Instagram guides, I think I published it a day after guides became available to everyone, it was a hot topic.
If I’d written the post a few days or even weeks later it would have no longer been relevant. Of course the post can be read at any time but it was written for a particular moment in time.
Yesterday, I published a post about Clubhouse. I first drafted the post over 2 months ago and at the time it was over 1500 words, significantly longer than what I would usually post. For various it took a while to make time to edit the post to something I was happy to share.
But, what I noticed was that each time I went through the post, things had changed. Things like the number of users and the other apps that had added an audio feature. I regret not publishing the post sooner as with any hot topic, sooner is always better than later.
I think it’s fair to say that Clubhouse is still very relevant and will continue to be for the months to come. However, the post I published yesterday is very much of the time. That’s the issue you face when writing about hot topics, they don’t always last.
In contrast, the posts I’ve written that focus more around life lessons, career and self-help are what I would consider evergreen. They will be just as relevant today as they will be 12 months from now.
I’ve always held writing to a high esteem, to such a high esteem that I always considered it to be out of my reach.
It’s undeniable that in the 9+ years I’ve been sharing my writing online, I’ve improved quite a lot. Yet, I always told myself that I could never be a proper writer.
But over the past year or after reading articles online, I’ve thought to myself, I could write something like that or even that’s similar to something I’ve already written. Suddenly writing no longer feels so out of reach.
And it’s not that I now plan to quite my job and become a writer, I think it’s more than fair to say I already am one.
Write more than one post a day. Even if only one of them is worth publishing and the other one, two or 5 are just a few phrases.
Writing and sharing something everyday becomes easier the more you write.
And on the days when coming up with something from scratch doesn’t feel easy you can go back to one of your drafts and flesh out the 2 sentences you wrote last week.
I recently listened to an episode of Akimbo where a listener asked Seth about who he thought his audience was. Seth’s answer was pretty wonderful.
It got me thinking about my own audience, my readers, people like you.
For me it’s never been about appealing to a particular demographic, age, race, social class, etc. I’ve always wanted to create a space where you can come as you are. I like to think if it as us sitting in a circle and me telling a story.
My readers are people with a curiosity for life, people who notice things, people like you and people like me.
Around 6 or 7 years ago I thought that I needed to be ‘inspirational’ and needed to be someone that others would put on a pedestal. I thought that was the way that it should be.
In aspiring to that, I then found myself getting distracted by the idea of not being good enough especially when the numbers weren’t high enough.
These days I just focus on the writing.
If often goes that the pieces you put the most effort into, spent the most time writing and generally are the ones you put the most heart into are the least popular.
Turns out sometimes your reader won’t be as enamored with the work that you consider to be your best, in fact they may hate it.
And so you may now find yourself with the dilemma of whether you should continue sharing what you consider to be your best work when your readers don’t seem to like it.
For me the answer is yes, your work should be about so much more than simply pleasing the reader.
Just because something isn’t popular, doesn’t mean that it isn’t any good or that it isn’t appreciated.
I often wonder what I would have done if I was a twenty something year old in the 90s or even 80s.
Would I still write? Maybe I’d have written articles for a magazine or newspaper and I’d have tried to make a career out of writing. Maybe I wouldn’t have tried to put my words out there and instead stuck with journaling.
The advances in technology have allowed us to be our own gatekeepers. You don’t need to ask for permission if you want to have a website, write articles, put out music, be a presenter etc
And so if you’re willing to take initiative and do something, you can do all the things that would have been a lot more difficult 20, 30 or 40 years ago.
As someone that has never written for a publication or written a book, I have a hard time calling myself a writer.
I’ve always thought that having my words published in a newspaper, magazine, website or a book etc. would be the validation that I need to claim the label of writer, yet they are not things I actively pursue.
I think this is because when you do something for the love of it, trying to make it anything more is scary. There is also the fear of not being good enough, of my writing not being good enough for someone else to want to share it with a wider audience.
And part of having fear and being scared has resulted in me not putting myself in a position to receive feedback.
So overtime I have come to realise that the issue is not that I can’t call myself a writer, it’s that I didn’t meet the criteria of what I thought a writer should be. But further to that I am not yet the sort of writer that I aspire to be.