I like writing.
It feels good to put my thoughts on the page (screen).
But I’ve noticed that I go through periods of writing and periods of non-writing. Going from the non-writing to writing is 100x harder than the other way around.
(I mean take my writing more seriously, not write more seriously.)
I’ve been writing on my blog since before 2005 (my oldest posts have been lost due to numerous system changes). There have been times where it’s been consistent, maybe a post per day or per week. Other times I wouldn’t write for months.
Writing for me has always been for a few reasons:
- Composing my thoughts and reasoning through them helps me think about a topic
- Sharing what I think and discover helps others learn
- Writing has always felt like a natural medium for my marketing
Writing helps thinking
It’s been written by many other people that writing helps thinking. To write you need to assemble different thoughts into some structure that the reader can understand.
I think in fragments. My mind will jump from idea to idea and even the most unrelated topic will be connected back to other ideas randomly. This is why I have such a long todo list and a highly optimized note capture system. I write down everything because I’m never sure what other connections it will make.
Sidebar: This has been my biggest problem with using Getting Things Done: I make tasks out of a lot of thoughts, which aren’t actual tasks. My latest note capture system should be able to capture those thoughts without forcing them into tasks. The problem is that I trust my weekly task review habit (and do it) while I don’t have a habit for reviewing my notes yet.
Sharing becomes teaching
If I lived in a different century, I’d probably do my writing and idea capture into a private journal. Or stone tablets.
But I’ve always been a child of the Internet so writing about most topics in the public hasn’t scared me.
The best part about this is that other people can read what I write and have the opportunity to add it to. This makes the actual writing better and more useful for the 99% of people who are just reading it.
At the very least anyone who reads my writing is learning or solving a problem they might have. (Or at least I hope)
Natural medium for marketing
The final aspect of writing, and the most recent one, has been my realization that writing is one of my core strengths and that I can use it to market my products and services. Whether you work for an employer, are building a startup, or are a freelancer you have to be marketing and selling. It might be to your employer (”I’m useful, give me more responsibilities”), your customers (”I’d like to help you”), or your peers (“Check out this cool thing I built”).
For years I thought marketing meant one-on-one sales and advertising. In fact, in one of my previous businesses I used classified ads and then one-on-one meetings to try to sell my services. And boy did I suck at them both.
It wasn’t until I was freelancing for a few years that I realized, I didn’t have to only use those strategies in marketing. I could use something that I’ve always done and use my strengths.
Now my primary form of marketing is writing. Sometimes it’s a blog post. Other times it’s an email. Or maybe a book.
Realizing all three of these aspects and how they work together, I decided to really commit myself to my daily writing habit (well, every work day). Blatantly copying Nathan’s habit I set a goal of writing 1,000 words each day or for one hour.
It doesn’t always happen. Some days I only get 400 words down or have to stop 20 minutes into it. Other days I go all morning and really hammer out a bunch of work. But I’m sticking with it.
I now have an hour set aside first thing each day. My writing hour.
Today, I’ve been going for 45 minutes now and have written an entire blog post and this one, and am over 1,500 words in. I do this before I check my email. Before I plan my day. Before I do anything work-related.
(Well, I do check my email when I roll out of bed if I have a minute while my daughter is waking up. It’s more of a scan and quick sort than doing actual email work though).
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