I started this blog in 2015. I’m not sure why I started writing other than I wanted a medium to get the many thoughts out of my head into reality. In hindsight I guess I was looking to self-actualise and express myself in a way that I had not previously had the courage to fully do.
I wrote sporadically from moments where I felt inspired to write out my thoughts in as coherent a manner as possible. I didn’t spend much time thinking about building an audience and following. At most I was operating from the idea of build it and they will come.
It’s funny because this idea filled me with a sense of doubt and insecurity. I wasn’t really sure about putting my innermost thoughts and opinions out there on the web for the world to scrutinise. Yet somehow I overrode this insecurity, perhaps because I knew this was an area I could experience some modicum of growth in and help some like minded souls in the process.
Here are 3 key lessons that I started to learn as I reached the 100 blog post mark:
- External validation doesn’t make a writer, writing does.
When I started to write, external validation was a process that played on my unconscious mind. I thought that there were right answers that I needed to produce and wise insightful statements that I needed to make. I thought that external validation was the barometer that would tell me whether I was a writer or not and whether it was a good idea to keep writing.
What the superior man seeks is in himself; what the small man seeks is in others — Confucius
To this day my most frequent visitors to my blog are crickets and tumbleweed but quite surprisingly this hasn’t dampened my spirits three years later. When the audience and engagement were slow to come I found that this gave me the opportunity to dig deeper. I had the space and freedom to experiment and express myself when I was still quite insecure about the whole thing.
I am grateful for this. Had I acquired an audience and followers earlier on then I’m sure that I would have become more risk averse, more unwilling to dive deep, more obsessed with pandering to the crowd and generally more insecure about the whole thing.
2. The person reading your blog is a person and not a number
When I started my blog I found it difficult to see past the numbers. It seemed like the only reason people wrote was to make a living doing something that wasn’t soul destroying. The popularity of a blog post, and hence the livelihood of a writer, is determined by numbers and so it was easy for me to forget about the person behind the number.
It has only been in recent months that the penny has dropped that there are people who read my posts. People I can engage with and form connections with. People who I can have conversations with around topics that have meaning for me and topics that I want to improve my knowledge in.
The axiom iron sharpens iron is one that I have begun to associate with writing. Writing has become less about me and more about the subject matter and my understanding of the world around me.
3. Make it easy for the Reader to Read your Writing
When I started to write I felt that I would have a natural style that my reader would be able to relate too without actually working on it. I felt that if the reader didn’t get my writing then well they weren’t my intended reader. I thought that structure would stifle my writing and I looked down on writing lists.
At some point in time I started to invert this equation. I started to realise that I didn’t usually read articles and blog posts that made me work unnecessarily. I started to see that the most popular Medium authors all had structure and a certain flow to their posts.
I realised that I could become a student of structure. I started to see parellels behind using a structure in writing and frameworks in programming. I started to tell myself that there is no point in trying to reinvent the wheel when I can use the blueprint to create my own unique wheel.
Over to you..
What have been your biggest insights around the writing process?