When most of us start a new Twitter account, or a new blog, or a new business, nobody cares. It’s not easy to find fans or an audience to help spread something you’re doing.
My entire goal in life isn’t just to have people on Twitter sharing a blog post of mine. But it is important. If it weren’t, I’d keep a private journal. Maybe invite my Mom.
But I like to teach. I also like to get the feedback an audience can give me. It helps me improve.
So 5 years ago, I’d blog randomly here and there, and I enjoyed it. Every now and then a post would get some nice traffic.
But it didn’t seem like I was growing any kind of audience. No one new would follow me on Twitter. The next blog post would have crickets. RSS subscriber growth was zero.
I gave up.
What an enormous regret. That’s why one of the best three decisions I’ve made in the last 18 months was a simple promise I kept: I would blog at least once a week.
That’s the commitment I made to Dustin Curtis, when he invited me to write on SVBTLE, the blog network you’re reading right now. And it’s changed my life.
Because of this promise, my writing has greatly improved. Feedback from readers on projects like Draft have been insanely motivational and helpful. And the momentum has created even more momentum.
Here are a few reasons I think you should finally commit to writing at least once a week.
Just like any diet or exercise schedule, it’s a lot easier to keep writing once you make it a habit. If you don’t create any kind of regularity, once you skip a few intervals, you’re off the wagon.
As Jerry Seinfeld would say, “Don’t break the chain.”
When you start blogging with a consistent frequency, you have a lot more room to experiment with techniques that make your writing better and more interesting.
I play with different subject matter, post length, story telling techniques, emotion. I even experiment with different methods of encouraging people to follow me on Twitter.
One thing I’ve learned from blogging is that it’s really hard to predict how well a single blog post is going to do. It’s like a new movie release.
When you’re only blogging occasionally, your wishes for a blockbuster hit just go up and up.
You get let down. Constantly.
When you commit to something like blogging once a week, your expectations become a lot more manageable. Maybe this week’s post didn’t spark the conversations and attention like you hoped.
It doesn’t matter.
You’ll show up again next week. Over and over again you’ll show up. And you’ll worry less about the weeks where no one seemed to care.
After awhile, you realize what were duds for blog posts weren’t that at all. There’s stuff I’ve written months ago that seemed to go unread by everyone. And then all of a sudden a friend mentions how important the post was. Or someone emails me about how they found it searching on Google and how much it motivated them. Sometimes an article finally does get the larger conversations and traffic that I originally wished for.
After putting in some time writing consistently, you start to realize you have invested in a valuable asset that finally starts to pay off.
There’s people that say: “It’s not fair. You have all that stuff.” I wasn’t born with it. It was a horrible process to get to this. It took me my whole life. If you’re new at this — and by “new at it,” I mean 15 years in, or even 20 — you’re just starting to get traction. Young musicians believe they should be able to throw a band together and be famous, and anything that’s in their way is unfair and evil. What are you, in your 20s, you picked up a guitar? Give it a minute.
Because I keep showing up to post something, I’m forced to pay even more attention to the world in order to bring something back to the page. I feel 100 times more creative than I did 18 months ago.
But there’s still plenty of days I’m staring at a blank page uninspired and unmotivated. I write anyways.
…write one true sentence, and then go on from there
And unfortunately, I was again reminded of this last week.
There is no such thing as waiting for inspiration. The idea of “diagramming” an essay in advance, as we are taught in school, may be useful to students but is foolishness for any practicing writer. The Muse visits during the process of creation, not before.