Change the Way You Think About Your Writing
The inspiration I needed to resume writing publicly came from Jason Feifer, editor of Entrepreneur Magazine, in an article that challenged me to think differently. Jason shares an Editor’s Note in each issue that I frequently find insightful.
The Words You Choose in Thought Matter As Much As the Words You Write
Jason explains that the words we use in speech and in thought should be carefully considered. He often asked others if they enjoyed his podcast but then realized that the feedback he got never focused on enjoyment; it was frequently about the usefulness of his content.
Jason’s aha moment struck a chord with me. At the top of my daily journal is a statement that says, “My fundamental truth is that I love learning and helping others by sharing knowledge.” My mantra for the year is “Writer.Creator.Teacher.Leader.” My whole being is centered on sharing and being useful!
I Published Today Because I Wanted to Be Useful
Unfortunately, sometimes I get stuck overthinking how to fulfill my mission to help others. My ego tells me I have to be liked by everybody and create entertaining work. Neither of which is true.
I want others to read what I write or interact with me in the courses I teach and feel they have gained value or insight or seen things from a different point of view. Of course, if they are also entertained, all the better! But entertainment is not the primary goal. I’m not a fiction writer nor a comedian.
Putting Usefulness to Work
The questions Jason asks himself before he begins to write help point him in the right direction, again by using careful words. He suggests, “What subject will be most useful?” or “What will my reader learn from this?”
The majority of what I read is business, marketing, financial, productivity, and self-help-related. Not surprisingly, these are also the areas I have an interest in learning and writing about. I read to glean helpful information, and I wish to write content that is valuable for others.
Change Your Response to Readers
Jason explained that he consciously changed the way he replied to comments about his work. Instead of saying, “I’m glad you enjoyed that.” he now responds with, “I’m glad you found that useful.”
Once you start to refer to your own work as valuable and not just enjoyable, you identify your efforts’ real contribution. For me, this was the spark that encouraged me to publish again. I have been writing behind the scenes but have not formed finished posts for the world to see.
The further I traveled in time from my last published post, the harder it became to put something out there again. However, realizing my thoughts have value, not just entertainment value, made it imperative to publish again, as soon as possible.
What If This Could Be Easy?
Just after I read Jason’s Editors Note, I happened to receive an email from Greg McKeown, one of my favorite authors. (If you haven’t read the books Essentialism or Effortless, I recommend you do.) Greg asks you to consider “What if this could be easy” and encourages simple solutions to complex problems. The simple answer to beginning to publish again was to open a draft blog post and just begin writing.
I made this even simpler by following an article template I had downloaded from writer Nick Wolny, which I had stashed in a folder of other useful blogging tools instead of deciding on a structure for this story.
I have been gathering all the tools I need to help me with post creation, but not making use of them, which is silly and counter-productive. At some point, you need to move beyond preparing to doing, even if the work is messy and imperfect.
All I needed to do was follow the inspiration, pick a template, open a draft post and start writing. By keeping it simple, I can allow myself to enjoy the process of creating valuable content.
How to Get Back to Being Valuable
- Recognize that you are creating value first.
People are looking to enhance their lives, sometimes that means being entertained, but it always means getting value from the content they consume. Make it a goal to be useful. If only one person finds value in what you have created, you have still made a difference.
- Use the ideas of others to spark inspiration.
You don’t have to be a big thinker or full of original ideas. When you run across something that creates an “aha” moment or helps you, share how you applied that idea in your own life, and help others learn how to apply it to theirs.
- Start sharing right away
I read the article that inspired me late last night and reviewed it again this morning. By putting my thoughts on paper soon after, I was able to capitalize on the energy of my inspiration.
- Collect tools and template (and use them).
Make difficult tasks easier by employing shortcuts, templates, or best practices. They only work if you actually use them. I reviewed a few of the article templates I had saved in Google Drive and picked one to write this article. I also wrote my draft right on my website, which is hosted by WordPress and built for blogging, so it was easy to publish once I finished.
- Keep it short
If you are jumping back in after a break or are hesitant, keep it short, simple, and to the point. This is not a magnum opus. Just share your thoughts and be done with it.
- Make it easy
I shortened the distance between me and publishing by writing a draft right on my website (hosted by WordPress and built for blogging), so it was easy to publish once I finished. And you just read it!
Get Out There and Be Useful, or Entertaining, or Both
Writing is about sharing. If you never publish, you lose the opportunity to share those wonderful thoughts inside your head and add them to the world’s collection of knowledge and art. You are creating value!
Like me, your drive to write may center on being useful. You might lean toward entertaining writing. You might want to do both. Choose that path that inspires you to publish. If you can make one person laugh or smile, nod their head, feel understood, consider something new, be encouraged or inspired, you must do it and do it now.