When I started writing daily in January 2019, while I knew I wanted to create a writing habit, to improve as a writer, I had no idea that I would sustain it for a full year. I have written and published daily. Yippee!! I am so proud of myself.
What have I learned?
- Habits. There is so much power in creating habits to get things done, my writing became a habit within weeks and I never went to bed without writing. This means using willpower and changing routines for the first days and weeks but then it becomes second nature.
- The difference between long and short-form writing. This became a huge challenge when I was simultaneously writing daily blogs and my book draft (thank goodness for the support of my book coach!). To blog, I would determine my topic, write and simultaneously edit in one sitting. To drat y book I had to try and unlearn the editing step until the draft was complete. This was a huge stretch for me.
- Be prepared to make sacrifices if something is important enough. You have to make sacrifices to prioritise something you really want to do; for me, this was mostly sleep! I am rectifying this by creating a new habit of writing earlier and going to bed earlier, therefore.
- Inspiration. Everything around you can inspire you to write so you have no excuse if you’d like to find your voice. The trick is to make a physical note each time something occurs to you. I didn’t do this frequently enough and often forgot things that inspired me earlier in the day.
- Wellbeing. Writing is so great for your mental health. Through my most challenging times this year, it could have been easy to stop but I kept going and knew it was one thing I had control of and helped me to feel well and impactful. You don’t need to publish your work, you can write or journal for yourself.
- The value of sharing your expertise. People care about what we have to say and want to hear about it. Write and/or post videos, writing is an awesome tool for impact!
- Choosing a publishing platform. Medium was my initial platform of choice to blog from but this has now moved over to my website blog. I won’t continue with Medium in 2020. I’ll write a blog on Medium to explain why in the new year. Think about where your audience hangs out and ensure you share your posts there (more on that below).
- Time of day. I like writing at night, I find flow in the evening but the mornings are my best time to edit. It’s worth exploring what your best time to write is and this may differ if it’s technical or creative writing.
- Avoid procrastinating. Whether your aim is to write daily, or just more frequently, simply make a start. I found it useful to make a deal with myself, my deal was no sleep until I had written. However late this ended up being, I had to start.
- How to supercharge your writing. My formula is make a start, be consistent, draft and only then edit, remember self-care, reward yourself!
- Topics. It is hardest to write about yourself, but your audience responds strongest when you share aspects of your learning which are more personal, even in a business article. Write about what is most important to you. My key topics are creativity, collaboration, connections, mentoring, making an impact and that gives me huge scope. I also share some personal insight and experience when the motivation takes me because this is congruent with how I run my business.
- Quality. I have been torn between quantity and quality at times but reminded myself that my daily writing challenge was to help me improve s a writer. I am sure that my quality wasn’t amazing at times, but sometimes it was…. or so I’d like to think.
- Consistency. To develop as a writer you have to write. Sometimes you will sit and nothing comes, stay sat and start writing, write anything and everything. You will find flow and something impactful will eventually emerge.
- Don’t let perfect ruin good. Don’t overthink or over-edit your work. I have received some of the best feedback for work which felt incomplete or unclear, somehow they have resonated most with others
- Technology versus paper. Acknowledge if you create best on paper or electronically. Whilst all my writing is typed, I love my handwritten morning pages journal and could never type those. I have a favourite notebook and ink pen.
- Audience. Hold in your mind who you are writing for and remember, at times, this may just be for you.
- Comparisons. Don’t compare yourself to other writers. I am still not even comfortable to call myself a writer, partly as my mother is a writer and she writes so well, grammatically and in a “pretty way”. Friends have helped me to recognise that I don’t have to compare myself to anyone and that it is time that I acknowledged that I am an impactful writer. This phrase has made it onto my 2020 vision board to reinforce the message to me!
- Tools. Give yourself a hand with tools such as Grammarly which can assist you as you write. I don’t use this to its full potential but to have it routinely checking my blogs just before I hit publish has been helpful.
- Quotes and expert input. Its is useful to reinforce a point you would like to share with a quote from a subject matter expert or celebrity that your audience identifies with. You will also begin to notice how your audience starts to quote your own words in time. The ultimate flattery!
- Re-posting. Not everyone you would like to reach will find your blog or the original source of your writing. Ensure you share your articles across social media. Get people moving between twitter and Linkedin if these are the platforms they use already but beware the platform algorithms will work against you when you are encouraging people to leave them to your website for example. People tell me to post links in the comments avoid this.
- Removing self-sabotage. When you commit to doing something and it becomes a non-negotiable, by default you reduce self-sabotage. Whilst at times I may have drafted more than one article before publishing, there was never an option to destroy everything I had created, whatever I thought of it at that time. This also served me well when drafting my book. I got used to not binning the work I felt was rubbish. It rarely is, it’s just your inner voice and imposter syndrome creeping in.
I have written many blogs through the year reflecting on my learning and my joy of writing. I am in the process of moving these over from Medium onto my website. I also plan to share my reflections in a longer article and video and no doubt, whilst in flow, more reflection and associated learning will emerge.
I would like to wish you, my community of supporters, a very Happy New Year. I look forward to sharing more with you tomorrow onwards! And if any of you would like to start writing or guest blogging here, please do get in touch with me, I’d love to hear from you.