Don’t Write Everyday
Yep. Writing every day has taught me not to write every day.
We’re not designed to do one thing all the time. Familiarity breeds contempt and variety is the spice of life. We require a diversity of interests and activities to keep different parts of our minds active.
Often, even doing the thing you love the most all the time can make you sick of it. It’s natural to need a break from anything one does very often, plus our brains need rest to consolidate information, memories and what we’ve learnt.
Rest and variety are key.
Write for Yourself, Not for Anyone Else
I had a very popular piece on Medium and found myself trying to replicate its success. When I wrote it, I wrote it out of a desire to express myself and tell my story.
When I started writing about what I thought people wanted to read, my writing suffered. Maybe audiences could sense insincerity, maybe it became too contrived, maybe I was pumping out content too similar to what’s already out there.
When you write only what you think other people want to read, your words can lose their personal touch. Especially when you start second-guessing yourself and asking ‘how does this sound to someone else?’
Write primarily to express yourself.
Don’t Write for Money
Once the notion of money gets added everything changes. Your outlook goes from self-expression to ‘how much can I gain?’
The most successful people in the world don’t focus on money, they just love what they do. Money comes as a side-effect, a consequence. Chasing anything is more likely to make it elude you. I just try and remember this:
I’m not a driven businessman, but a driven artist. I never think about money. Beautiful things make money.
— Lord Acton
A Good Headline Gets Them Through the Door
The title of a piece is so important. It’s the doorway, and if a reader likes the look of it they’ll walk through and spend some time in your mind.
It’s a real art to create good headlines, and Medium is full of how-to articles on them. It must intrigue the reader, but not be too clickbaity.
If you figure out what makes a great title, please let me know, because I haven’t cracked it yet.
People Want to Read What’s Easy to Read
This one almost goes without saying, but it’s amazing how I forget it when I write.
I over-explain, convolute concepts, and add way more information than necessary. Some people love the nitty-gritty, detailed type of info, but most just want to get the gist of a piece and move on.
I can’t blame them, for I am one. There are a million things screaming out for our attention all the time, so we must be selective with what we give our attention to.
Humans don’t like to needlessly think too much; we want to get the most out of something in the shortest time. Something difficult to read won’t help that.
You Can’t Plan When to Write
You must write when the mood strikes you.
When the idea’s fresh in your head when the words seem to flow effortlessly from your psyche, like a waterfall spilling into a beautiful tropical pool below.
Writing, amongst other things, is an art form. Art is an expression, and expression comes from creativity. It’s difficult to plan creativity, so when it strikes, use it.
Everyone Loves a Story
We love a story. It’s why Game of Thrones held the world in its grip for years (apart from the abysmal ending), and even given that the story had no connection to reality.
As humans, we have an innate need to connect to other humans. It’s written into our psyches, it’s come up through evolution, and a massive way of doing this is through narrative.
Weave your own narrative in and out of your writing, tell your story and you may find more people connect to you as a human.