I have been writing for 10 years 😲
I was going through and collecting all my old blog posts to make a single collection which I can build on going forward. That's when I realized that it was exactly 10 years ago that I had published my first blog post.
You might expect that over the course of 10 years I might have published around 100+ articles, for example if you assume one article a month, that comes close to 120. However in reality, the count is something between 10 to 15 articles. I enjoyed writing each one of those, but there are a few factors which explain why I wrote as little as I did, and how I am planning to fix those.
I was too much of a perfectionist during my early days. It was my dad who instilled that mindset in me. I was afraid of judgement and also falling short of others' expectations. It was a major factor holding me back from publishing my writing.
As I grew older I came to the realization that there are very few things that are perfect in the world, and that it is more important to give your best effort and to keep improving bit by bit.
Nowadays I give priority to progressive refinement, aka iterative improvement. Just do the simplest or most basic first cut, then slowly refine, or improve, and just hit publish when it's close to 80% of perfection. Waiting for perfection means the article will never be published.
Not having a topic to write about
Another problem was that whenever I would sit down I would draw a blank. "What should I write about?"
Over time from reading and watching videos on how content creators manage to produce so much content, I realized that I was doing it all wrong. I was trying to combine two things at once, and what I really needed to do was to separate the "idea generation" phase from the "idea implementation", aka writing phase.
From that, what I do now is that I keep an Idea Inbox using a notes app. For me I am using UpNote as my notes app, but you can as easily start doing this with Google Keep, or Apple Notes, or Notion or any other simple note taking application. The important part is to develop a system that works for you which helps you capture your ideas quickly and is accessible from anywhere. Its as simple as just jotting down a title, as well as a few key points that you might want to talk about.
Now, you just need to observe things happening in your day to day, e.g. you are watching a YouTube video and someone mentions something that resonates with you. Or let's say that your junior at office asks you for help regarding something and there you have another topic to add to your Idea Inbox. Once you have committed to writing regularly, you will naturally spot these things in your day to day.
Essentially by now, you have the ideas for several topics. Now how do you make those into well written articles?
Waiting for flow
Waiting for flow is the common thing that tripped me up. I think there is nothing more unproductive and demotivating than this. You have your ideas, and you have sat down to write. And you are still stuck.
For me what works is to note down a list of points for each topic when I create the idea in my Idea Inbox. Now whenever you see this list of points, it gives you something to build on and refine into paragraphs or sub topics.
What I also do is that whenever I get some time, I come back to the drafts in my inbox and keep adding more points to it. And most often what happens is that just doing this triggers a flow and I find myself adding detail to the article then and there. At random times in the day! This works because everything is synced to mobile, and web, and you can continue from where you left off.
Just keep writing daily or refining your drafts. But how do you know which drafts you need to prioritize, if you are randomly working on it? For this, I have seen many YouTubers and content creators use a Content Calendar.
Content calendar sounds like a super complicated idea! Who likes calendars anyways?
But the whole point is that you don't write in order to publish immediately. You want to be able to separate out the writing part from the publishing part. Write daily without pressure. Once it is done, just schedule the publishing part. And continue on with the rest of your drafts.
Having this in place means that you are not forced to publish daily, nor will you publish an article immediately after writing it, unless you are already on the date you had planned to publish on. This gives you less stress on the day to day, and you don't just keep publishing articles continuously, and get burnt out and then stop doing that for the rest of the year.
It's not even required that you need to schedule it on a visual calendar. It could be that you decide any one specific article for the week, to give more importance to. On Hashnode, I just make use of the pinned drafts feature to keep one or two most important next articles that need focus. In this way you have a pipeline of drafts ready on the way to become the next finished article.
Consistency going forward
I believe that these ideas will help me to keep publishing consistently. I have already seen the difference that it has made just thinking in this way. Only time will tell whether I am able to fully make this work and continue with my love of writing and helping others through it. Until next time, have a good one!