Apart from the obvious answer — Just write 1 post a day and keep doing it for 10 days — there are some strategies that can help you increase the amount of output you can generate.
There are certain hurdles that will make the task insurmountable: lack of time, lack of ideas, fear, impostor syndrome, ego and many others. Here is how I deal with them:
Make yourself accountable. I’m using it right now. This is my first post in Medium and somebody (like you) will read it. I’m making a promise that I will deliver 10 Medium posts in the next 10 days, I don’t want to fail you, so now I have to do it. It’s out there, I don’t want to lose face, I don’t want to be inconsistent so I have to deliver.
We hate under delivering when we make a commitment with others, there is a need for consistency in our promises that push us in the right direction to get things done.
Social media is a great tool for that. If you go on FB, Instagram or Twitter and say that you are going to loose 10 kilos in a month, write a book in 6 months or run a marathon in a year, you will do it. The odds of you fulfilling that commitment increase dramatically when you go public. That is peer pressure at its best. It is very powerful and you will see results.
Producing vs Consuming.
I’m a voracious reader. I love reading books, blogs, Medium, Quora, even the instructions on how to use the hand dryer (yes, apparently we need to be told). But I’ve realized that reading is passive, you are not creating, you are consuming. Nothing wrong with consuming but at some point you want to produce something, to make your voice heard.
We are all consumers, we consume food, books, music etc but there is also a human need to create, to make, to produce content. Most people never actually do it because of fear but we should listen to that inner voice, the one that wants us to create not the fear one, and express whatever we have inside.
I’ve always wondered why people who love food don’t have a go at cooking, people who love music never try to play an instrument, people who are avid fans of football never try and kick a ball. Even if you are rubbish at it, it will enhance the experience later on and will make you understand the complexities and nuances of a particular field. I’m convinced that only somebody that cooks can truly appreciate food, only a writer can properly understand a book and only a musician can fully enjoy music. You don’t have to be very good at it, you just have to try.
By writing, you’ll discover many nuances of the trade that were invisible to you before. That alone will make you a better reader and you’ll enjoy the activity more than ever.
So, give it a go, produce something, be active, be a maker.
Everyday you have dozens of ideas, they might be triggered from something that you read, from a conversation, from a movie or just simply by observing reality. It’s impossible not to have ideas, in fact, if anything, you are probably having too many ideas, you are a brainstorming machine.
The problem, often is, that you don’t realize you are generating ideas as it happens. So the first thing is to cultivate awareness of your own thought process, observe your mind as if it were a separate entity. That is actually meditation and it is a great tool for bringing consciousness to everything we do instead of just doing stuff automatically. When you eat just eat, when you walk just walk and when you think just think.
For example, I was at the airport the other day and I noticed how people stop walking the moment they get in a moving walkway. Now, these walkways are designed to take you faster to your gate so you are supposed to keep walking, if you stop you are defeating the purpose. But instead of getting annoyed at people slowing me down (actually, is a bit annoying) I realized that maybe there is something to it, that it is difficult to predict human behavior and that when a tool is developed is impossible to predict how people are going to use it. It got me thinking about what other examples there are of people using stuff not in the intended way. And just like that I realized that a have a mine of ideas that could be used as material.
So, observe your mind and every time you have an idea write it down, if you do that, I guarantee you that soon you’ll have too many ideas from where you can pick the best ones. Use and app like Evernote to record your stream of consciousness, make sure nothing gets lost.
Our ego tries very hard to protect ourselves from embarrassment, from taking risks and from damaging our self-image. We must fight that tendency.
Unless we are prepared to put ourselves on the line, to face criticism and to risk ridicule, we will never achieve anything worthwhile.
You have to be prepared to fail, to look stupid and to suffer public humiliation if you want to grow. The alternative is never dare to share what only you can deliver- your message.
Don’t Die With Your Music Still Inside You
Kill the Ego.
Ego is the enemy. Everything you haven’t achieved in life can be blamed on the ego. Your ego is trying to protect your self-image but in order to grow you need to destroy that image and create a new one, over and over again. Your ego feels threatened and will use any trick to stop you from changing.
You have to stop your ego by putting yourself in situations where you can fail, grow and act in the face of fear.
Every time you hear that voice in your head: “Don’t do it” “It’s risky”, “You are not good enough” , “You’ll fail” etc, do the opposite. Take action and show your ego who is in charge.
Feel the fear and do it anyway.
Kill your ego or it will kill you.
We all think we are not good enough, even the best players have doubts from time to time about their performance. In some cases it could be true but mostly it is not.
As I am writing this (my first Medium post) I realize that I’m not a very good writer, English is not even my first language and I’ve never learnt to write by joining a course or taking any kind of lessons. I feel like I have no right to be joining a club like Medium where there are brilliant accomplished writers who are not only extremely talented but also half my age. I feel I can never get to their level because I started too late. Can you see how many excuses I’m able to generate? How I am talking myself out of it? and how doubt and fear is creeping in?
That is exactly Impostor syndrome: You don’t deserve to be here so don’t even try.
But I say: F**k that!
I might as well be an impostor but I’m going to do it anyway and by doing it over and over again I will improve. In a few years I will be much better than now but I still probably feel like an impostor. I should get used to that feeling and not let it stop me.
If you wait until you are good enough to do something you’ll never achieve anything. You might as well quit before you even start.
The trick here is not to become good and then do something but the opposite: Do something repeatedly and you will become good.
Be an impostor but ship.
Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.
Everything can always be improved, a book, a painting, a recipe but there is a point in which you have to say enough is enough. At that point you have to deliver, publish the book, the blog post or ship the product.
But how do you know when is good enough?
For that, you make a checklist before hand specifying what is your MVP (Minimum Viable Product)
For example, for me writing this, I will be happy to post when I have fulfill the following criteria: I have rewritten the article 3 times, proofread it and have a feeling that it flows nicely.
Even as I’m writing this I realize that it’s not going to be my best work but hey! It’s only my first post, cut me some slack! (note to myself)
Do the most important task first thing in the morning before life gets in the way.
Get up one hour earlier every morning and produce content, the rest of the spare time you got, use it for less mentally demanding tasks like proofreading, research, marketing, publishing, etc.
To create content you need all your energy, all your focus so make sure it gets prioritized.
Avoid all distractions while you are producing content: phone off, TV off, Internet off, music off. Just you, the pen and the paper (Yes, it’s better to write on paper first)
And finally, things never happen unless you have a deadline. My deadline for this project is one post a day for ten days.
I only have three hours a day to write so I have to use every minute I can spare. That means setting priorities, avoiding distractions and focusing in the task at hand.
Work Expands so as to Fill the Time Available for its Complexion.
If you have one week to write a letter, you will need the whole week, if you only have five minutes, you will do a similar job in that time.
So, set tight deadlines and you’ll see how fast you can ship. It will force you to go to the point and avoid the fluff.
If you want to produce something (and you should), make yourself accountable, commit to a deadline, focus on content creation, set priorities, manage your time and energy, kill your ego and deliver even if you think you are not ready yet.
This is my first post on Medium, I am an impostor but I don’t care. I’m afraid but I will deliver and you will be my witness.
Tomorrow there will be another post and in ten days there will be ten posts. I hope you read them and like them but even if you don’t I’ll keep posting. Thank you for your time.