What this post is about: I want to establish a writing routine. I have found it very hard. Here is some inspiration and learnings on writing that I found useful.
Writing is hard. Writing well is harder. Writing consistently is the hardest. But the secret is writing consistently. It is what makes writing less harder.
That’s it, thats the secret. Just do more of what you want to do and eventually it’ll get better.
I watch this video often where Ira Glass talks about the creative process.
If you’re afraid of writing shit that people will judge you for, go ahead and do it anyway. One of the writers I admire is Julian Shapiro and he has this process called the creativity faucet. He looked at Ed Shereen and Neil Gaiman’s creativity process and realised that first mile of piping water that is dirty and required to be emptied has to go through the pipe anyway. It’s only then you get the clean water. The good stuff.
Creativity is exactly like that. You need to constantly plough through the shit first to get the good stuff later. This whole blog is my attempt at that. Writing more, writing often, sharing interesting things but getting better at writing eventually. I used to blog a lot and I inspired a lot of people to take up blogging. A lot of them carried on, some even made a killing of their careers becoming thought leaders, while I changed my blog and domain names over 10 times in the last 15 years.
I have over 10,000 words written in my notes on my phone (or keyboard) but I haven’t published any of that. Part of that is fear of it “not being good” but part of it is this irrational fear that I call “what if I put something out and felt good then I will lose the feeling of excitement and run out of ideas”.
Today, I discovered what that is called; Ideation inhibition.
You inhibit yourself from generating ideas because you think Ideas are a precious resource and you can only have so many.
Ideation inhibition is an enemy. It is procrastination in a new costume. It is the perfection illusion. I was always afraid of running out of ideas and debating how much of my life do I put online vs how much of it should be original vs how much of it is explaining vs journaling etc. All excuses to not produce for fear I’ll have nothing to say after that one amazing post.
When I began this post, it was about scheduling and writing, like a to-do list. It’s turned into routines and advice from prominent writers and I think we are all better for that. The journey is exciting, the destination isn’t always.
Morgan Housel on why everyone should write
Intuition is strong enough to put these ideas into practice. But intuition isn’t a tool; it’s a safety net at best, and is more often the fuel of biased decisions. Turning gut feelings into tools means understanding their origin, limits, and how they interact with other ideas. Which requires turning them into words. And writing is the best way to do that.
Some of the things I think I think, I find don’t make any sense when I start trying to write them down. You ought to be able to explain why you’re taking the job you’re taking, why you’re making the investment you’re making, or whatever it may be. And if it can’t stand applying pencil to paper, you’d better think it through some more.
Write with a specific person in mind. When writing Berkshire Hathaway’s annual report, I pretend that I’m talking to my sisters. I have no trouble picturing them: Though highly intelligent, they are not experts in accounting or finance. They will understand plain English, but jargon may puzzle them. My goal is simply to give them the information I would wish them to supply me if our positions were reversed. To succeed, I don’t need to be Shakespeare; I must, though, have a sincere desire to inform. No siblings to write to? Borrow mine: Just begin with “Dear Doris and Bertie.”
Fred Wilson’s a prominent VC and the most consistent writer I have come across. He’s been writing for over a decade. Recently he told me that he’s been writing most of it on his mobile so he doesn’t have an excuse to not write. He writes his thoughts on his blog, AVC
“They asked if there was any correlation to knowing what I am going to write about and the quality of the post. I told them that I don’t think so. The best posts come out in real time and often they start with me staring at the blank screen. Same with the worst posts.”
He writes about the blank screen,
" It is the ritual, the practice, the frequency, the habit, and the discipline that matters most to me."
But the real lesson to be learnt here is < Peter Rojas, who was my blog professor, told me what was required to win at blogging: “show up every day.”
When he began blogging from Fred,
“At the age of 42, I started blogging. And I’ve been writing daily ever since. Something like 5,600 blog posts have been entered into my Typepad CMS. Almost all of them by me. I’m getting close to Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours. My writing has improved immeasurably. But more importantly, I have learned to love writing. It’s creative. It’s a puzzle. How do I tell the story? How do I get my point across? How do I do it crisply and clearly? How do I end it on a strong note?”
Writing forces you to work out your views and articulate them clearly and concisely.
Read a lot. Write a lot. Repeat.
Professional writers write for 5 minutes straight and do it as a discipline first thing in the morning.
Morgan Housel, an excellent writer, has a few tips, here are the ones I liked
- You have 5 seconds to get someone’s attention
- Whoever says the most stuff in the fewest words wins.
- If you have an idea but think “someone has already written that” just remember there are 1,010 published biographies of Winston Churchill.
- No one wants a lecture. Everyone wants a story
- Writing is an art, and art is subjective
Alex Lieberman, co-founder of Morning Brew which is a popular email newsletter wrote about how he enforced the 30 for 30 day plan for the writers in his company. He wrote only up to 13 days in public but it was enough to give me a glimpse of how to write. But his plan is simple too which I put in a tweet.
- Best ideas come from writing a ton. Daily.
- Write small posts (atomic posts words <= 250)
- Don’t over think posts
- Don’t over edit (this is MY bane)
- Check back on the 31st day.
So that’s what I’m going to do. Start writing more but start with a short post (and longer if I can) daily.
See you daily (but also in 31 days).