Write, write and then some more…
3 months ago I started this writing journey. Now, 50 articles later, I feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction in hitting this landmark. I never thought I’d get this far.
Before all this, I never saw myself as a writer. Now, 50.000 words later, I guess I am. Granted, nobody reads my stuff, I don’t make a dime from it, and there’s a lot of room for improvement, and yet, here I am, publishing content on the best platform regularly.
After a long search with many dead ends, I found writing almost by chance. While writing for personal use and some specialized blogs, I realized I’ve always had a penchant for the written word, and not just as a mean, but also as an end, in and of itself.
I joined medium in 2018 and was very impressed by the quality of the publications. Not only the best writers of this century publish here, like Taleb and Harari, but also heavyweight Medium talents like Ayodeji Awosika and others.
Ayo is a personal development author and a top writer in Medium. The moment I read one of his articles, I knew he was the guy to follow. He became my mentor and provided the inspiration to make me write these lines.
Thanks to Ayo, I developed a can-do attitude and decided I was done thinking and day-dreaming — it was time to produce and ship — no more “one day I’ll do it” — It’s now or never. Even if I’m not ready, even if all the planets aren’t aligned yet, even if the timing isn’t perfect, I’m moving forward and nothing is going to stop me. No more excuses.
Who am I to publish in a crowded place full of first-class talents? I often ask my self. But then I think, why the hell not? What a better way to learn than by practicing in public, by shipping almost daily, by making mistakes and learning from them, by developing a thick skin?
After reading Ayo’s book — Real Help — something clicked in my mind — he is so brutally honest that I couldn’t help but acknowledge that I’d been lying to myself for a long time and now it was time to take action. There is something about his writing that it’s very compelling and woke me up from a long lethargy. I’m a self-confessed self-help junkie but never really applied that knowledge to something tangible. Until now.
After this realization, I forced myself to press publish for the first time and then some more.
Here’s what I learned from this journey:
1. Ideas are infinite
Before I started, my biggest concern was being able to generate new ideas for posts consistently. As it happens, there was no need to worry about that, in fact, I am generating more ideas that I could possibly handle. The more I write, the more I realize ideas are infinite.
The brain has about 70.000 thoughts a day. Even if only 0,0001% of those are valid inspirations, that’s 7 a day. So, if you are thinking of starting blogging, don’t worry about generating new content, the more you write, the more you’ll produce. The river never gets dry.
Every conversation, every book or blog post, everything you see is a possible idea. Even when you close your eyes and ears, new thoughts will pop up non stop. Granted, most of them are rubbish, but still.
Ideas, thoughts and dreams reside in the universe and come to your head uninvited. All you have to do is listen. It’s impossible to run out of them. The more you have, the more you produce. They grow exponentially.
Now after writing 50 articles, I know I’ll write another 50 and then another 100 and so on. Every article I write generates al least 10 new ideas for the following one.
2. Impostor syndrome
It’s not that I suffer from impostor syndrome — I am actually a real impostor
So what? My writing has a lot of room for improvement, to put it mildly, but that’s why I keep at it. The more I practice, the better I’ll become.
I’m practicing in public, this way I can be judged, become vulnerable and develop a thick skin. This impostor syndrome will accompany me in this journey forever, I’ll use it as fuel. Every day I write, every day I ship. That’s the only way.
3. Thick skin
When you ship, you expose yourself, you are alone out there standing in the rain, wet, cold and vulnerable.
I’m aware of my shortcomings but hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day. I’m not fishing for compliments here or exercising in false modesty. I just acknowledge that part of the job is being criticized, ignored or even praised (sincerely or not), and that can’t interfere with my work.
Thankfully I’ve got a superpower — discouragement and criticism motivate me. I am a contrarian and I love to prove people wrong.
I realize that is not the healthiest attitude but… whatever works.
As Ayo says, it’s impossible not to become good at something if you keep showing up. Patience is important. Expecting quick results is not realistic. That’s why it’s important to choose something you feel passionate about so you don’t mind spending thousands of hours with nothing to show for it.
For me, this writing adventure has been a huge success already, despite the fact that my views are 0 and the money made negative.
I define success as doing something enjoyable while learning, improving, and sharing it with others that might find it interesting or useful.
In that sense, I don’t think patience it’s what keeps me going, it’s more the realization that I am on the right track and that’s an achievement in and of itself. I don’t endure the pain to reap the benefits later, I am enjoying the benefits already by typing these words in my old laptop. My reward is this.
Ego is a nasty beast. It’s going to sabotage you with self-doubt, impatience, distractions and fear.
That’s why it’s so important to keep the faith, trust the system and keep going even when you haven’t got everything figured out yet.
When you are driving at night, you don’t need to see more than 50 meters ahead in order to reach your destination safely.
When you start a journey, you can’t possibly know where is it going to take you, but you know that if you keep walking in the right direction, you’ll reach your destination sooner or later.
Your future self has faith in you.
One of the best things about joining groups is accountability. That’s why AA and weight watchers work so well.
We are social animals and we put a lot of value on our reputation. When you publicly commit to something, you are more likely to deliver.
Here is a little tactic. When you want to achieve a goal, like losing weight or running a marathon, post it online. Be specific and commit to a date. Then sit down and watch the magic unravel.
7. Keep learning
Blind practice is not enough. You need time to sharpen the saw, to hone your skills, and to learn from your mistakes.
There is plenty of information out there to keep learning and improving. Writing is what I’m trying to master, but there are also important complementary skills like marketing, SEO, social media, web copy, formatting, editing, etc.
Invest time and money in learning and your success will compound exponentially.
8. Build an audience
Admittedly, I’m failing at this but I’ll keep trying and pivoting until I find my tribe.
Building an email list and finding your crowd is essential. There are people out there eager to listen to what you’ve got to say. You have to make sure they can find you and follow you easily.
Choose your channels, post regularly, follow the people you admire, comment and like their posts, build an email list, solidify all your followers into your blog and website.
Make then come and then you build it, in that order.
9. Be flexible
You can’t possibly know where this journey is going to take you, keep your eyes open and use the opportunities that arise along the way.
Don’t be like Phaedrus in “Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance”: “The truth knocks in the door and you say: Go away, I’m looking for the truth”
Don’t plan every detail of your journey. You can’t possibly know where it will take you. Just keep going and keep discovering. Let life surprise you.
10. Enjoy the process
If you are not having fun, stop right there. You can’t force your way to succeed.
You know you’ve found your mission in life when work doesn’t feel like work. When you rather stay home writing, instead of going out partying.
Don’t try to rush to the destination, enjoy the journey, make it count, focus on the task at hand, and be present. Now is all you’ve got, you might as well enjoy it.
I’m a late bloomer. I wish I had started earlier but you know, better late than never.
Now I know I’ll never quit, I know I’ll keep improving. My first 50 articles have room for improvement but the next 50 will be much better and my 1000th article will be amazing. I hope you stick around to read them.
If you want to follow me on this journey you can find more of my stuff at www.albertoguerrero.net
Thank you and all the best amigo.