What I learned from writing every week

Last December I committed to write every week for a year. My desire was to grow as a writer, refine what I’m thinking about, and (unfortunately) to be popular. More on that below. This is post #52!

I write on Friday mornings and on airplanes. When I can, I light a candle (not on the airplane). For every post I’ve published, I’ve paused (or deleted) another one or two.

Here’s what I learned this year:

“Publishing” is harder than writing. My first two posts were pretty good. I shared those to a few friends via email and on social media. The atta-boy’s felt good. It didn’t take long (about post #4) to only want to hit “publish” on the “good ones.” I began wondering about the critics out there. I got a little pushback on a few ideas, and wondered about people rolling their eyes when they saw another post from me (“who does he think he is” I imagined them saying). I got bored somewhere between posts 5-12. I tried writing in series, and too often pulled from what I knew then what was bugging me.

Sharing ideas is a muscle. Resistance takes resilience. I wasn’t as afraid of running out of ideas as I was of my ideas not resonating. Okay, the more honest way to say that is that I was afraid nobody would read them. I felt myself starting to play it safe, hoping to appeal to a broader audience then what interested me. I was more afraid of being called out than hopeful that I would learn something. This has more to do with arrogance than humility, believing that every time I stepped up to the plate I needed to hit a home run…one that everybody liked.

And then something happened. I got my first real complaint. It rattled me more than I wish it had. By about post 24, I was more confident. Some of these posts are going to be singles, some of them are going to be wiffs. I might not even know which is which.

The best writing was written to one person. When I look back at the last year, I like best the posts that were speaking most to one person (usually I had them in mind). I think I was most helpful when I wasn’t trying to write to a crowd. I was trying to put on paper what I was learning and what was bothering me. I also quit sending them in an email newsletter, quit having a CTA, and deleted the part of my website that asked for anything.

Nobody can (really) help you. I tried to set up some accountability to keep writing. Wonderful people though they are, it was pointless. The only person who can make me write is me. I could quit anytime. Movies on airplanes are very tempting, and the hardest words to write down are always the first five.

If someone else is writing longer, fine for them. If someone else is better, good for them. I need to write.

And frankly, I hope you’ll write too.

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