Learning To Write | 2019
Each year, I write a guide on what I have learned in the year. This guide is for 2019, and you can read 2020 edition here.
“We are all born as storytellers. Our inner voice tells the first story we ever hear.”
― Kamand Kojouri
Want to write? I have written a lot till now and read a lot, about writing and marketing too. Thanks Quora for inspiring me to read that much.
But the problem is now inaction. I am constantly trying to put things into action. And yes, I succeed in some and learned a lot in process. In this article, I am going to discuss that thing only.
Writing and Art
One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.
- Jack Kerouac
Writing is an art and boils down to your story and how you tell it.
We all learn something daily. Even though it seems not, but we get into conversations, we observe, and we all have some experiences and lessons.
Noticing things is the most human thing we have.
Write those down.
Some people have a ton to say, but they do nothing about it. It sucks to be that way, but I was one of them. The reason being, I couldn’t come up with the courage to write my thoughts down.
‘Write? Are you kidding me? What will they say? What will happen if people don’t like my way of writing?’
And the many lousy past writing experiences in school and competitions discouraged me more from writing.
I used to think I am not those guys who can write for hours. But now, that is exactly what I do.
But you never knew how something you have written can be the exact thing your readers need to read. You never know if what you have just written down worth it or not.
I am a slow learner, and it took me five years to change my mindset about these self-limiting thoughts.
I don’t want to embarrass myself on the internet.
I don’t want to make silly mistakes while writing.
I make a lot of mistakes.
And most significant contributor was reading.
I didn’t have any mentor, but there was no excuse, the next best thing is reading. It has transformed me a lot.
And especially one book that really appeals to me was ‘7 Habits of Effective People.’
In the introduction, Stephen has explained about P and PC balance. In which,
P is ‘production.’
PC is ‘production capacity.’
P is what you create, your work, your studies.
PC is your fuel, knowledge, and gaining experience comes under this.
At that time, while I was reading, I came to realize that I have fucked up P/PC balance. I was reading and doing nothing particularly useful.
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If all you do is just PC, learning only, then you are a lousy student. And if all you do is P, then you will burn out pretty soon. You need to keep a balance intact.
That’s when I decided to start teaching. And whats a better way to teach rather than to write? I have been reading a ton about starting a website and write on it daily (which later part of writing daily I am still struggling).
And one thing I noticed, the more I write, the more I gain self-confidence. This is, I think, due to the following two reasons.
having a body of work. And thinking clearly.
1. Having a body of work that you can show anyone. Either in form of a website or as a book.
A work of mental work and hours spent, still gives me chills down my spine when I see it. This body of creative work will serve the reader forever.
With the words that you have written down, you can help your readers to go down the path that they wanted and needed to go but coudn't.
2. And the second thing I noticed is thinking clearly. When you learn something new and reproduce it with your personal examples in your own words, things get condensed into you.
The teacher learns the most. If you read something. You get to know about a new foreign idea. But if you teach it with your life observations and experiences (through oral or by writing), it becomes an internal part of you.
And as a bonus, you make your summaries with you. Your knowledge grows with you.
And it doesn’t matter if you publish it or not.
Building the Habit
You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.
- John C. Maxwell
Before you go all in, I want you to reconsider whether you are willing to spend hours of work into an article or a book that maybe nobody will read if that sounds boring and harsh for you. I have a reality check for you.
External and internal goals.
Most people set external goals.
For example, I will get this many views or this much traffic. If something gets high view and engagement, if something gets more upvotes, if something gets excellent views, then it’s successful.
I have seen shittest answers on Quora getting more than thousands of upvotes. And some authors have less than 100 followers but are TopWriter of Quora.
The world is unfair, but if you play the game of speed, clickbait, sexualized content, then you may get initial attention.
Still, that meaningful connection may not be formed. Do you think if you make people click on your headline by hook and crook, will you read another article by you? Hell No!
Slow success builds character, fast success builds ego.
I observed this some days ago, I haven't read NewYorkTimes that much when recently I got to know that an article written by one of my favorite authors, Cal Newport, is published there, I seriously didn’t even read the headline and clicked on to read it.
And that’s what I try to achieve with my readers. That feeling, if this author has written it, then it's worth it to set aside my time and read it with full attention.
I want you to answer yes to this question, will you still do what you do when you are the only one on this planet?
Setting the Goal, The Correct Way
If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy and inspires your hopes.
- Andrew Carnegie
Your goal should never be depended upon certain circumstances that others think worthwhile.
I made that mistake too. And it leads to inconsistent output and low motivation. And the reason why we all usually set external goals is that we buy that idea into writing yourself.
Stephen King earns millions of dollars per book. So people probably think that writing has money. But when they get to work. Their romanticization gets wear off.
Another example I come up is,
External goal = Million dollars. (an arbitrary number)
Internal goal = Financial freedom.
Usually, external goals are set to show off, and the problem with this goal is that it’s not worth enough. It isn’t worth waking up early (or staying late night) to write content.
Not worthy goals lead to the least efforts.
But, here is the solution, set internal goals. Those goals can be completed regardless of whether the external circumstances met or not. And the most exceptional example could not be writing ‘words per day.’
Five days ago, I set out to write 1000 words/day. You can start with 250 words and work up from there. I am progressing and will eventually set it to 2000 words/day.
What to write about? Whether you are a professional writer or a new one, do not write about what you are not comfortable with.
If you don’t know what you are comfortable about, tell me this,
Suppose you and I went out to hiking, we had fun, on the way back home, our car’s ventilator got bust off, now, we have no choice but to wait till the next morning.
you are sitting with me, what you can talk about all that night?
Don’t concert whether that will be interesting for me or not, just think of anything that you find extremely interesting. You can explain to me every bit of it and won’t get irritated by me asking dumb questions.
Find it out? Probably not, that’s why please do try out this activity on a real paper with a pen.
Setting unrealistic goals in the beginning.
Many new writers become so much ambitions that they try to write the best selling book in the first attempt, which inevitably fails.
This is the worst possible goal you can set as a writer. First, it’s hard to write a 300 pages book. And that too for becoming best selling.
You won’t even start to write due to extreme self-consciousness.
I have talked about books here, but the same applies to articles. (I hate calling them blog posts, blog post sounds for me very naive. The article says severe, and that’s what I am trying to aim. Haha)
My Writing Story.
There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.
- Maya Angelou
I didn’t have the money upfront to start a website just now. But I would love to have one. The idea of owning a website always has intrigued me. For over a half-decade. And if you think that much for this long period, you should just fucking do it.
But how can I start one without planning? And how just I can put up this considerable money upfront? (well it doesn’t cost that much to start one)
I then started to build my writing habit by writing on the telegram channel. It performed really well and I have achieved two things,
I got a sweet audience (thanks to word to mouth marketing)
I have developed some skill and habit of writing consistently.
That’s why, if you want to get started in writing, the best advice I have ever get and I will pass it to you too about writing is this, to write.
I am not joking here, seriously, if you don’t write, you aren’t even in the game.
But write about what? Whatever you write about, remember one thing to follow (for non-fiction), always try to include your perspective or your real-life example.
And this advice alone was the reason. That’s how my telegram channel got so popular without any paid ads (or any ads at all).
Another strategy I can give you is this,
Go to Quora answers tab, cross-questions you don’t like, after some 5-6 questions crossed, Quora will start to show great questions.
Write the answers, if that answer looks perfect, rewrite it (adding more details to that) and publish it with the question (or extract topic) into your website. (or on Medium).
Website and Publishing Advice
“Don’t focus on having a great blog. Focus on producing a blog that’s great for your readers.”
- Brian Clark
Now, finally, I started my own website. And please keep your expectations low. You won’t get traffic for a really long time, (and the traffic you are getting would be you checking out your website on many other phones so that it looks good).
As I have already discussed that before you invest money in getting your professional blog, consider developing necessary skills and habits.
Now, after you did this, you will get to make a decision when to start your website.
In my case, I was getting a good number of views on my telegram channel (’ Using Social media as Documentation’ article got more than a thousand views! Thanks to people sharing it to their channel).
I started my blog after ten months of my learning project on telegram. The benefit I got was that I wasn’t feeling overwhelmed about what to write about. I just selected four good articles from my channel and published them.
Do not overthink whether this is good or not. If you don’t publish it at all, you shall never know. And look, never stop writing on other platforms too. I find Quora enjoyable because I usually find myself in what they called, the writer’s block. I get amazing ideas from there. Try it out.
Thank you for reading. It means a lot to me.
Thank so much Piyu Yawalkar for priceless insights and feedback. :)
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