Mom: “Remember … don’t forget to write to me at least once a week – even better – every day.”
Me: “Every day! There wont be enough to say every day!”
Mom: “You will find that the more you write the more you will have to say, because then everything is important. If you only write once a month, there will be nothing important enough to write about.”
I’ve found it incredibly difficult to make time for long-form writing the past few years. When I have, the catalyst has been reminding myself of the tremendous ROI as a designer, manager, business owner, and so on.
If you want to be a better designer, write more.
If you want to be a better manager, write more.
If you want to be a better biz owner, write more.
You can also substitute “speak more” for each of these.
The act of synthesizing what’s in your head for an audience of critics leads to increased analytical thinking, self-awareness, clarity, and much more.
Last but not least, you inspire others to write—or at the very least ‘write’ by joining the conversation you’ve started.
It’s something I’ve been thinking about lots the last couple of weeks. I’ve been wanting to post to my blog more because I think it will be beneficial for me in many ways, one of which to help me build discipline and self-control in other areas of my life.
The thing that really strikes me about this Twitter thread, the whole thing would make a good blog post. It probably would’ve been easier to post to a blog as well, likely have a longer life span, and consequently have more of an impact. Not all writing on a blog has to be long to have an impact, if it’s worth stringing four tweets together in a thread to make a point, it’s worthy of a blog post.
Today when you say “nest egg” many think of money saved and put away, but a literal “nest egg” is a real or fake egg that you put in a nest to encourage a bird or a hen to lay more eggs there. So what Thoreau is saying is that by simply writing down a thought, you encourage more thoughts to come. When you have enough thoughts pushed together in the same space — a collage of thoughts, juxtaposed — they often lead to something totally new.
This is the magic of writing.
Austin Kleon wrapped up a recent post with the quote above. The post on one level is about journaling and writing in general, but do you know what else that quote describes? A blog.
A blog is nothing more than a series of thoughts written down over a period of time. When you think about it that way it’s incredibly freeing. There should be no pressure. Instead there should just be turning up to write down a thought and seeing where it takes you.
The desire to tinker is strong in this one.
I have this problem when it comes to my blog. The more I start to post to it, the more I want to tinker. The more active I am on the site, the more I notice little things I don’t like and want to fix. The more I post to it, the more I want all my internet posting to originate on it. It’s like an illness.
It’s something I’ve always struggled with, and I confess it’s a side to blogging that I enjoy. The trouble is, the more I tinker the less I post. The more I craft the design, the less time I spend writing.
It’s a battle, although one I’m sure I do not face alone. It’s not just the battle of a blogger, it’s a battle of a designer. Most of the tinkering I do is design related, little details and quirks in my theme which I notice but very few others will. I also know from experience, that I will get to the point where I’ve caught the little tweaks I need to and they will be fixed. Then it’s just a case of resisting the bigger things I’d like to do. Or at least knocking off the major ones first, like finding a way to post photos here and on Instagram, displaying them in a way I’m happy with. The key though, is to keep the posts flowing. Keep to my challenge of posting everyday, and getting through the tinkering stage until I get to the point where I’m just posting each day and all my published content originates here.
Or is it just a pipe dream? Should I just keep posting and ignore the little bits that nag?
But I know I can’t just ignore the nagging. I’m a designer, I like details and its in my nature to keep refining bits until they’re gone. To keep crafting until they as close to perfect as can be, it’s just important to keep the perspective, to keep in mind that perfect doesn’t exist. It’s about getting things to good enough whilst keeping on posting each day and building momentum so that the writing takes over the tinkering and becomes a creative outlet in its own right.
I know what you’re thinking. It’s only the second day of the challenge I set myself, to post to my blog everyday from now until the end of the year, and already I’m asking the question of what do I write about.
I would imagine it’s a familiar story to anyone who’s decided to undertake such a challenge. Going from barely writing or posting to your blog to posting everyday it’s only natural to find yourself wondering what to write about. If I hadn’t been here before it would be a big worry, it might even be so discouraging that I would just abandon ship straight away. Whilst this morning when I decided it was time to write today’s post I didn’t have anything in particular I wanted to write about I know that if I keep going and posting each day I will eventually end up with too many subjects to write about. It’s the nature of the beast, the more you do it, the more ideas you have.
There are a number of different tactics that I’ve come across over the years that are aimed at helping you come up with subjects to write about. Unsurprisingly none of them have ever worked for me, but there is one thing that does. I know it works because I’ve demonstrated it in other parts of my life, be it reading my bible or doing the work for my freelance business.
Showing up every day.
So here I am, showing up. A new sheet in Ulysses, my headphones in and I’m writing. In fact through the course of writing this post I’ve already come up with the topic for tomorrow’s post. There it is in action. Showing up today has triggered the process. The more you do something the more idea’s you have, the first step is showing up.
Never had a truer word bee spoken about blogs. Your blog really is what you make of it. Mine is a bit hit and miss, but it’s still mine, it’s where I write first, share first and the site I point people to about myself. I don’t have much of an audience, and whilst I’d like that to change, it’s ok, I’ll still write it.
A glowing review which I couldn’t agree with more. Ever since I downloaded it for my iPad I’ve been using the app, now it’s on my iPhone as well everything I write for this site goes through the app. Paired with the Mac app, it’s great for writing sermons in as well.
Just hit Command‑N. Those are the words I just read in a post from Manton Reece, and so that’s what I’m doing. I may not be a developer or someone who’s had much of an audience in my life on the Internet. However, for the last few weeks I’ve wanted to start posting to my site again but for whatever reason I’ve never known what to write. So here I am pressing the plus button in Ulysses on my iPad and writing.
I remember when I first got in to the whole blogging way of things. I wasn’t really selective about what I wrote about, I would just write whatever came to me. Of course there was a set of themes that would be covered, but they weren’t chosen with intention, there were just what my interests were. They were me. Since discovering Manton’s blog towards the end of last year I’ve been reminded of my early blog and the early blogs of those who I still follow. They were genuine and full of interesting things because they weren’t overly focused, they were just personal sites. Of course those sites, at least the ones that are still going, are still interesting but they’ve become more focused over time. Although that focus may have happened by a natural evolution as people found what really makes them tick, those sites are interesting in a different way now. Thankfully what I’m starting to see, and what I hope I continue to see, is more variety and new sites that are personal and reflect the whole of the person who writes them. That’s what drew me to this hobby we call blogging, and it’s what I hope will help me return.
So here’s to new beginnings, to starting to write more and to being less bothered about what I should write about and instead just posting what feels right.
A really interesting and comprehensive post by Ben Brooks about Writing.
What I like about this post is that it isn’t just a list of tools or a workflow. Although he covers those topics, the main meat of the piece is about why he writes. This is the kind of thing we should be reading more of, of course it’s fascinating reading about apps and workflows, but it’s more thought provoking and interesting to hear about why people do it.
I’m great at making statements and promises about things that I want to do. It’s easy. I think of something I wish to do, decide there and then a means by which to do it, then post to my blog declaring it in the public domain.
In principle it’s a good tactic. The public declaration should be enough of a motivation to make sure I stick to something, but the reality is that more often than not I fall short. I might stick to it for a couple of weeks, but then life will happen and that’s it, the idea slides out of existence. Why? Because of a lack of discipline.
When it comes to discipline I’ve generally been quite good when it comes to doing something that really matters, or something that I have to do. The trouble was when it came to doing something I wanted to do, like writing for this site. So as part of getting back into it, I’ve been taking little steps, to build integrity, trust and discipline.
Building integrity with myself is critical. The number of times I’ve set out with an aim to do something, then not succeeded to do it are countless, and this carries over into starting new things. Whilst the intention and desire can be strong, the belief that I can do it less so. It’s been erroded by years of unfulfilled promises to myself about starting to write on a regular basis.
The trick, I’ve discovered is to start small. It’s not a new technique, but I testify that it’s starting to work. I started with The Week in Links, my weekly post sharing a few links to good articles or interesting things that I’ve seen around the internet over the week. As of the time of writing, I’ve now posted an edition of that post for nineteen weeks running. I’ve built integrity with myself that I can post to this site on a regular basis, on a schedule I decided and wanted to commit to.
Now I have built some integrity and belief that I can do something I want to do and not just something I have to do. I’m building trust in myself that I can actually do it. I trust that I can manage the rest of my day well enough, to be able to set aside time to write.
The trust in myself that I can do this, builds the discipline that I need to actually do it. Having established a pattern of turning up each week to post The Week in Links, I’m now disciplined enough to carve out that time each week to make sure I keep doing it.
It’s a knock on effect, or maybe more of a circular cycle. The more belief that I have in sticking by my stated intentions, builds the trust I need to be able to make those intentions in the first place. In turn, that builds the discipline I need to execute those intentions, thus giving myself more belief. It’s why this week I’ve added another step into my morning routine so that I can be sat here at my desk and do a half hour of writing before my work day begins. Not only am I building trust that I can work on writing for my site with regularity, I’m also building trust that I can get up and go through my morning routine with the time to do all that I both want and need to do.
Of course there is another side to this. If I do miss one of my carved out writing slots, I must not give myself a hard time about it. Life happens and I won’t always get to do these things. When that’s the case I need to be able to say nevermind, reset and go again the next day remembering that for the past however many days I’ve been able to do it.