Sitting down to write has been a struggle for me, and I’m tired of blowing it off as “too hard” or “unimportant”. I feel like my natural calling to the web is to write, and my skills as a developer and designer enhance its delivery.
Of course I’m simplifying things, but for the past few years I haven’t given myself permission to write. Any time I sit down and attempt it, I can never quite turn my brain onto “writing mode” because I felt other priorities (as a developer who sells software) outweighed it.
So naturally the less I write the worse I get at it. They say you have to train your writing muscle to get better at writing and I wholeheartedly agree with that based on what I see in others and myself.
My friend Mars writes thousands of words a day and in my eyes is one of the most successful writers I know for the simple fact he gets his words out there (and yeah, the actual words he puts out are great too).
My sights definitely aren’t set on where he’s at as his muscles are much larger than mine. If there’s anything I’ve learned from training at the gym, it’s that you have to start with what you can realistically achieve and build up from there.
Now maybe I’m making things too complicated, but I’ve been at a breaking point for the past couple of weeks. I’ve been more excited to start writing and its finally brought me here to this post.
I know I’m not the only one fighting this battle of procrastination, self-doubt, and bewilderment. I have all the ideas in the world but there have been things I’ve allowed to hold me back for so long that I think others can relate to.
Here’s how I’ve been conquering my weaknesses and finding my writing mojo again:
1. Sit Around, Do Nothing, and Daydream
My work and the person I am today would be nothing without all of the hours I’ve spent locked in my head daydreaming.
Daydreaming about where I want to take Kolakube. Daydreaming about what I want to write about. Daydreaming about where I want to be in life.
Writing is an act of creation and is fueled by an understanding of yourself. You can’t create anything worthwhile if you don’t have a vision for your creation, and nothing has helped my understanding of myself and my work trajectory better than daydreaming about it.
I have a hard time focusing, so this comes easier for me and oftentimes unexpectedly. I’ve learned to just go with it and when a vision comes up — try to write as much of it down as possible in a notebook and continue with what I was doing afterwards.
I used to feel guilty for daydreaming so much and even a little stupid because of how tough it can be to focus. But once I started embracing these things about myself and started executing the ideas from my daydreams, I found that I create more authentic and original pieces of work.
You should try it sometime.
2. Forget Templates and Best Practices, Just Bleed
There is an excellent quote from Ernest Hemingway that simply goes:
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
With the goal of building an audience, it’s easy to get caught up in following tactics to make your writing “attract” more readers. They usually go something like:
Readers don’t like reading long posts, so write shorter ones
Don’t use swear words because they offend people and make your writing unprofessional
Write headlines concisely so there’s room for people to tweet your post
These tactics all have their place in different circumstances, but I’m now confident enough with myself to say fuck ‘em and figure out what works best for me.
Maybe one day I’ll regret dropping that F-bomb and maybe I’ll have wished I wrote more clever headlines. But I know I’ll never develop a voice without writing what works for me now and always be willing to learn to get better.
3. Looking At My Past Writing For Inspiration (and a Shot of Realism)
I used to write around one thousand words a day when I was blogging at my past venture, Blogussion. Those words came to me, and I know how hungry I was back then to be a successful writer.
I like to think I did well as a writer at Blogussion, and I still love going through those old posts and rereading what I wrote. Reading them has shown me how far I’ve come as a developer, designer, thinker, and a person as a whole.
Ultimately, reading through my old work has shown me that I’m not the same person I was back then. Not even close, but that doesn’t have to be the bad thing I made it out to be for so long.
Although I’ve been on a hiatus from writing, I’ve been developing myself in many other areas that I can now use to transform my writing.
Maybe I stopped writing before because I burned myself out (as I so often do) and ran out of things to write. But I now have this new wealth of knowledge, experience, and skills to put into something that could really help and teach people.
How often do you use your past work to learn about yourself and influence your work now? Your past work says everything about who you are and what you do now. What can you learn from it?
4. Give Yourself Permission to Write
I mentioned this briefly at the beginning of this post, but has probably been one of my biggest struggles of all to overcome.
Like I said, for the past few years I’ve had more of a “developer” mindset and threw myself into learning programming languages to create WordPress themes and plugins.
In that time I neglected many other of my duties to hone in on my skills as a developer; I stopped giving myself permission to do anything else.
While a lot of good came out of the time I spent in my “developer cave”, I always had the urge to write while I was in there. I started a personal blog to try and create a low pressure environment for myself, but it was never the same as writing here on Kolakube.
Maybe I needed to throw myself into development to pursue the passion that overtook everything else.
Maybe I needed to take that time away from writing to create Marketers Delight and launch my vision for the product side of Kolakube.
Maybe after all this time I realized I did exactly what I was supposed to do to progress to the place I wanted to be.
Everything I’ve done in the past few years seem like a blur now. Looking back though, I understand why I needed to step away. I understand why only now have my “writing demons” weakened and why I feel comfortable writing now opposed to a year ago.
I’m ready for the next step.
5. The Million Dollar Notebook
I call the main notebook I use to write ideas, outline blog posts, and sketch designs my “Million Dollar Notebook.”
It’s obvious that notebooks are a great way to quickly write down thoughts in a more personal way (do you feel a deeper connection to your handwritten notes or typed notes?), but once you’ve filled enough pages with — you may have transformed that notebook into something completely different.
You may have created your own Million Dollar Notebook.
A Million Dollar Notebook is an original book created by you that no one else in the world has. Think of it as a collection of blueprints for your next invention that is going to be so good — you’re going to make $1,000,000 from it someday.
Here’s what mine looks like, and I swear if you shake it long enough a million dollars will eventually fall out of it:[NOTEBOOK IMAGE HERE]
I won’t tell you how to take notes, since note taking is really a reflection of your own unique thought process. There are various note-taking techniques I love to use, particularly mind mapping, but I’ve found it the easiest and quickest to make bulleted lists or just write blocks of text.
I will tell you that you simply won’t remember every idea despite how exciting it is. I’ve learned this the hard way and have forgotten tons of ideas by just simply not writing them down.
That’s why this notebook is valuable — it gives you your own medium to write down your ideas. Some stick and some don’t.
You never know which idea will be your million dollar idea.
How do you do it?
I feel like my journey as a writer has just started again, and I couldn’t be more excited. Writing this one post has been so fun and I can’t wait to get more out. I have a lot to say.
What do you do to stay strong as a writer? Can you relate to any of the experiences I’ve talked about in this post? You may be able to help other’s out by simply sharing your quick tip, so be sure to leave a comment below. Maybe you’ll learn a little something about yourself in the process.