How To Tell If You're Wasting Your Time as a Writer
Before knowing this I wasted most of my time too.
For the past few months, I’ve been experiencing something that resembled writer’s block. It sucks to say. I picture myself as a disciplined writer who wakes up, sits down, and writes. But that hasn’t been the case the past couple of months.
This happened to me (as it may have happened to you) when I tried to improve my writing.
I started looking for advice. Advice from writers who have the following, the platform, the revenue I’m trying to achieve with my own writing.
It is helpful in many cases. But it has also slowed me down.
I was excited and hopeful when I started writing. I thought this would be something that relieves me of these thoughts trapped in my brain. But something changed. Something changed when my goal became better results.
The resistance set in.
As a writer, you face a frustrating paradox.
Anybody can write themselves numb with random blogger-like ideas that fall into their brain. Producing nothing significant. Nothing special except their own artful take on an old and hashed out topic.
The delusion is believing that it is you that’s special, and all you need to do is keep writing for someone to think, “You know what…. I’ve read tens of people write about this topic. But, for some reason, the way you say it is just so magical.”
Most writers, including myself, write under the belief that their life is the interesting thing. We read other bloggers who are praised for their interesting take on the world. But really, how much more morning routines and productivity processes does the world need? Do we really need yours? Just because you have nothing else to write?
I realized I wasn’t following advice that I heard, and loved when I heard it.
On one of Tim Ferriss’s first podcasts. His fourth to be exact. Ryan Holiday gave the writing advice that made me want to write.
“It’s not the technical skill that’s rare. It’s having something interesting and compelling to say. So, I think that’s the big thing, is people don’t have that much to say and they focus all their time on technical writing, rather than saying something that’s never been said before.”
Last night, doing some reflection, I remembered that phrase. I realized I was writing just to write.
- I’m looking for article topics by searching the internet for ideas that are already fairing well
- I’m solely focusing on my output. Write more articles to grow your audience, they say. It’s true. But why? Why are you writing what your writing? Because you need to write? Or because you actually have something to say?
- I’m too worried about my consistency of producing words, and not my consistency of finding helpful ideas. It’s not the words that matter.
These things resulted in wasted time. The time that I should have spent sticking to my own process. Sticking to the things that I have to say. Not writing things in the hope that this is what people want to hear.
This article is as much a criticism to myself as it is advice for you. You can’t be another writer. You can’t just scope the internet for talking points that people seem to like and comment on. It is not your style that matters, it’s your voice.
I hope this helps those getting bogged down by the process. The inevitable process of trying to get better at writing. The process that requires you to mold your voice to tried and true methods while paradoxically telling you to become unique and peculiar.
Write works that solve your own problems. Because you’re not the only one with your problems.