I wrote daily for 8 months. Here is what I’ve learned
I’ve never been a “writer.” So when I wrote my first blog post back on February 24, 2016, I had no idea what I’d be getting myself into. It’s remarkable to think that since that day, I have written at least one piece of public content every single day.
I write for many different reasons. In my daily notes, I treat writing like I am exercising my mind. I explore everything from hard questions to my unique past experiences in business to the latest tech trends. The stories are not always beautiful, there are ‘somtimes tpyos.’ But it works, because this is where I practice, and share fun stories or interesting insights. This has been an incredible way to think out loud, and learn a ton about myself.
Lately, I have begun writing “more formally” for publications like Forbes, Business Insider, and The Huffington Post. There, I share my youth perspective on venture capital, tech, and entrepreneurship. Through this type of writing, I have become a better storyteller. Perhaps an unintended, but positive externality of writing here has been an influx of jobs and consulting gigs~ it has been awesome to work with more people!
As a result, I have had the opportunity to help brands and influencers create and strategize content for other publications, like Entrepreneur Mag, Inc., Fortune, and others. Always happy to help.
Above all else, my favorite thing to do is hit publish.
Whether that is for an article, (like I’ve been doing a good amount recently) or on a company or even a stupid side project, I am obsessed with that feeling: creating something out of nothing and then helping it grow.
As you can tell, I end up writing a lot. Probably like 10–15 articles every single week. Am I the best writer? NO. Am I a consistent writer? I’d say yes.
Writing on such a consistent basis has changed my life.
What I will add, as a caveat, is that I would never recommend someone else write like I do. It is often purposeless and care-free, there are many people who disagree with my strategy (or lack thereof). But it works for me and that is all that matters.
Tl;DR — I have learned a lot.
Here are 3 of the most important things to note
1. Think About Goals
I think the hardest part about starting anything is managing expectations. It is very very easy to get caught up in the ends without thinking about the means or how you are going to get there.
We often spend all of our time and energy questioning our long term intentions, and asking ourselves where we want to end up. In doing so, we often neglect to simply do.
I figured out, early on, that I needed to commit to something and do it. I did not have the wisdom to figure out where my “blog” would be in 5–10 years, I needed to know where it’d be in a month.
So I set clear, public guidelines for what would come.
How long am I writing for? 30 days. I am going to write for 30 days, in a row. If it works, it works. (it is February 24th, 2016 — as I am writing this).
Public goals are different, and I think better, because they force a different kind of commitment. All my readers (probably 1, maybe 2, at the time) were going to be expecting something. That kind of pressure motivated me to keep doing, and clearly I’ve never stopped.
But external motivations will only take you so far. Consistency is often far more about your own drive than anything else. Whether it is going to the gym or quitting an addiction or showing up to write your blog post, you have to want it bad, and no one can teach you that.
2. Always Move Onward
Just like anything else, my writing “career” has been filled with ups and downs. I think the old metaphor goes like “life is a rollercoaster.”
While I generally appreciate most metaphors, I disagree with this one.
Make sure you life and career is not a roller coaster.
The problem with roller coasters, and why you do not want your life to be like one, is that they always end up in the same spot. They go through all of these twists and turns, loops and flips, ups and downs, all to end up right where they started.
In life, you’ll go through inevitable turmoil. In writing, you’ll fail a lot.
But the last thing you want is to end up in the same place where you started. You always want to be moving onward (sometimes going backwards will help you go forwards). In net, you want to end up somewhere completely different from where you started.
I look back to when I first started writing and borrow this quote my friend Nathan Bashaw:
“When you look back 6 months from today and don’t feel embarrassed by your naiveté, there’s a problem.”
Always be learning. Always be improving. Always be growing.
3. Cut Out Excuses
Okay so here is maybe some more tactical advice that I’ve picked up to help me become a better and more consistent writer:
Cut out anything that can be construed as an excuse for you to not write that day.
The gym may be a better example to start with, so let’s do that…If you wanted to go to the gym every single morning, you’d want to make sure there was no room to make up a reason to sleep in. That’d mean your clothes would be already out, protein shaker filled, bag all packed, etc. You’d already have your membership set up at the gym. All that would be left was you going and working out. It is much easier to go to the gym this way.
Writing works the same way. I wanted to write a blog post every single morning. I started here on Medium because it’s the most distraction free place to write. I did not need to worry about a theme, managing comments, tagging and categorizing my posts. It was free, accessible. All that is left is for me to write words on a page.
The only excuse left for me not to write is laziness. And when you put it like that, it becomes personal. No one wants a personal shortcoming to be the sole reason that they do not get something done. You cannot not go to your boss and tell them that “laziness” was the reason you could not get something in on time.
None of this is rocket science. My mind is a muscle (idk technically). Writing is an exercise. When I show up to the gym often (for me it is every single day), I will inevitably get stronger. If you want a six-pack for a brain, you better be prepared to hit the gym.
I hope you maybe learned a thing or two from my experiences. As always, feel free to reach out if you have any questions!