I write every day. Good or bad, I write.
Random thoughts leading to the daily writing, and few ‘good habits’ I chose to let go of along the way.
It is Day 21 today. For the past 21 days (including today), I have been creating two pieces of writing — every single day. I answer a question on Quora and write an article on Medium.
Most of the days, both pieces are on some topic related to startups and businesses. Then there are some days, when neither would have anything to do with businesses. Today is one such day.
There were a number of factors contributing to this decision/resolution of writing every day:
#1. A DEEP SEATED DESIRE
Make writing a habit. I have always wanted to write. Actually, a more accurate description would be — to get better at writing. Writing really helps you think, collate your thoughts, visualize how those seemingly random thoughts piece up together. And to that end I have made some efforts in that direction. I have created and maintained more than a couple of blogs in the past (only to delete them later). I have written fiction, satire, movie reviews, food reviews, travelogues etc. I guess I was experimenting with different genres just to diversify.
One thing I was never able to bring about was consistency. My writing behavior was chaotic, all over the place. One week, I would write a lot, and then for the next couple of months — not a word. I really needed to change that if I ever wanted to get better. And I am greedy. I always want to be better. Well. At everything.
#2. AN EFFORT TO CONDITION MYSELF
I used to be a fat kid. Not that fat, but yeah fat enough. So fat that you could see my cheeks shaking on a bumpy rickety ride.
And then one day I decided to change that. I ended up losing ~32 kgs in the 14 weeks that followed. There were a lot of things that helped in that transformation, but I owe it most to two things:
a. Persistence and grit — I was determined to lose weight. How much? I didn’t know at the time, I was just going through the motions. But I knew I wanted to lose weight.
b. Consistency — Whether it was sunny or raining, whether I had a good night’s sleep or not, I would stick to my exercise regiment. No matter whether the body begged me not to.
Consistency does have its benefits, and slowly your body gets attuned to that. You start enjoying it.
Writing is exercising for brain, or at least that’s the way I feel. The more I write, the better I could get. And writer’s block? I am sure the brain will overcome that. Till then, I will write about anything I can think of — no matter how shitty the thought.
One day I actually wrote about having no idea on what to write that day. True story. (All links at the end of the story)
#3. THE INFLUENCE OF GREAT PEOPLE
James Altucher, Mark Suster, Shekhar Kirani, Quincy Larson — I love HOW they write, and most of the times what they write as well. James has quite a unique way of presenting things, and could be an acquired taste for many. I like the quirky story like representation of things. Mark shares really insightful views — on all things startup. If you have checked out any of his Snapchat videos, you can see the energy he is packing. Shekhar is concise and precise enough to raise the most thought provoking business questions in your head — just by his LinkedIn status updates. I love it all. They all have really helped me in getting regular behind the keyboard.
I missed Quincy, didn’t I? Well, Quincy runs freecodecamp, and its blog (which happens to be a medium publication) has one of the highest follower base across all of Medium. There is an article on freecodecamp on how to send a story for submission on freecodecamp’s publication, and believe me when I say this — it is relevant to everyone. It doesn’t matter whether you just write emails or whether you are running a news website. You just have to read it! It is a 14 min long read, but totally worth every second of your time.
Long story cut short — I started writing.
I DON’T ALWAYS AGREE WITH THINGS. EVEN THOSE I APPRECIATE
Yesterday evening, I read an article by Rob Howard.
Beautiful piece. Talks about how too many links in articles are screwing things up, especially for journalism. Makes a lot of sense. Links embedded in the middle of a story takes your attention away, distracts you, makes you wonder the question — “Should I click on it, or finish reading this”
It is a beautiful message. Unfortunately, one that I don’t entirely agree to.
Why? Because in most of the cases, Rob’s points would be valid. And every single reasoning he gives in support of his argument makes sense and is bang on. But there are times when having links is a necessity.
Take the example of a journalistic piece. The journalism would need to give citation for his sources.
Take an example of this current story.
- I am praising this article, but if someone wants to read it, it would be very difficult for them. Not good.
- Quincy’s article. Without a link, I am depriving anyone reading it from discovering something that has helped me a lot.
- James, Mark, Shekhar — I love their writing in general. So, giving links to their articles wasn’t that relevant. So I skipped that.
- Someone may want to follow them. They helped me — howsoever unwittingly. Someone else may find that help as well. So, links to their profiles.
It has to be dealt on a case to case basis.
LETTING GO OF THE ‘NICE TO HAVE’ ITEMS IN MY WRITING
I started with quite some takeaways from Quincy’s article. These two are the most notable.
- Used Hemingway app to see if I was structuring my sentences right
- Used Headline analyzer to fix my post titles
However, I realized something. I was spending anything between 60–70 mins every day on writing on Quora and Medium, and I was spending close to 15–20 mins to fix my writing and improve my headline.
That’s fucking insane!
That’s 22% of my time being eaten away into fixing my headlines, making better sentences. So I started questioning that.
Who am I writing for?
What do you want to do?
What do you want to achieve?
I was writing for myself. I just wanted to get better at writing and write for my own satisfaction, growth and intellect. I just want to be more disciplined and productive, and sticking to a routine might help me inch closer to that objective.
So why do you need your headline to be perfect?
And that was the epiphany. I started saving a lot of time.
Do I not want my writings to be good? Of course I do. Would I mind if more people were interested in reading the article? Why would I? I would love that! I know a good headline might help with that, but its okay.
And then I realised something else. These tools didn’t exist few years back. Let us assume I am still living in that era and get better at forming better sentences and choosing better headlines the old school way — with more practice and time. :-)
Must say, it was a fulfilling change to let go of those time consuming apps.
It is day 21, and things are going great so far. See you again with a similar update next week. Till then, I will write about whatever thought pops up in my head every morning.