How many times have you found yourself ‘almost’ attempting something and then leaving midway?
Writing blogs would be such a hobby for me. And, this particular blog is inspired by one of the many drafts saved on my desktop. Writing a blog is not only encouraged here at Focus, but is also something I truly do enjoy. And yet, I often find myself struggling to collect my thoughts when trying to write. There are endless reasons that stop me from hitting that publish button. The common ones that I encounter range from – it needs more thought, who will read this, to the most common – it is not perfect yet.
And then suddenly one day, a safely nestled piece of writing appeared in the drafts section would just jump out and scream at me –
“Oh! Let’s see, why didn’t you make it to the publish button?”
And more often than not, I won’t even be able to recall what the reason was. However, a recent session with our internal content team and some introspection inspired me to write again.
And, what better topic to start but the lessons learnt about writing?
1. Write to express, not impress
Regardless of who your audience is, or what your niche is, writing should be done to express, and not impress. Storytelling is an art form, that rarely fails to express effectively. And yet, most people fall prey to the idea of writing with the sole purpose of impressing others. Using what can be best described as Tharoorian English, we try to come across as more knowledgeable than we are. But, somehow this superficial approach ends up taking the charm away from our content.
Instead, a simpler approach to the topic can help elevate our writing and make it more approachable. Such writing will have a natural flow and to the reader, it will seem conversational. And if we are being honest, most of us prefer reading content that feels easy, devoid of unnecessary words, and makes us feel something. Whether it tugs at our heart strings or leaves us with food for thought, content that makes us feel is the content we remember.
2. Write to learn
I recall how taking down notes when listening to a teacher’s lecture in class helped me remember things more easily. Noting down things, journaling our thoughts, or simply random musings that flow through our head throughout the day – all such activities can help us grow. This is because writing things down can help achieve clarity, like never before. Journaling every day not only allows you to provide structure to your thoughts, but also can help develop better habits in the long run.
3. Write to help
We either learn from our own experiences or from those that we hear (or read). I therefore, choose to share my learnings from the work I do or experiences I live. Writing about things I have experienced allows me to revisit the lessons, as well as share the lessons learnt with my audience.
4. Write to evolve
Writing is one of the most therapeutic experiences for me. The act of writing helps take my mind off things, every time. Also, writing about things that might be bothering me, helps me make peace with it. With the current pandemic situation, most of us are feeling overwhelmed with emotions we can’t find words for. Therefore, writing might just help you bring you a little closure and peace.
Some content is not going to stay evergreen – and that’s okay. Just like fashion, relevance of topics will change. I am a believer of impermanence and this applies to content too.
5. A year from now, this very blogpost will feel irrelevant
… and as it should.
How else will I know that I have grown as a writer? Knowing that this, or for that matter, anything else that I write, can become irrelevant in the long run hasn’t yet stopped me from writing. That being said, I do try to write blogs that can stand the test of changing trends and time. But, it’s ok to write blog topics that you are comfortable with, in the moment.
6. I may get an audience, or not
Views from an audience, likes, comments and shares are only a byproduct. I don’t let them become the focal point of my writing endeavours. External validation feels good and can help boost our self-confidence, but the flip side of it can be just as harmful.
In the age of Insta views and re-tweets, writing is an old school occupation. Your content may overnight become viral, or remain dormant for days on end. Either way, the only way to write regularly is not pay any attention to its overall performance. Just do your best to express yourself efficiently, and then let it go.
7. You can’t please everyone
… you are not chai.
Having written a considerable number of blogs over the years, I have come to realise that not everyone will agree to my point of view, and that it’s fine. The digital world we reside in, makes no space for mistakes. Every thing is constantly scrutinised, and people are quick to judge. Thus, it is important for writers to develop a thick skin. I certainly have.
Everything I write will not resonate with 100% of my audience. But, rather than trying to convince people to agree with my point of view, I focus on presenting it with as much clarity, as possible.
8. The easiest way to start writing, is to START
And, coincidently, the first step is also the hardest. A lot of well known authors have essentially the same thing to say about heir process. They did not start writing when they were ready, they started writing and that made them, ready.
If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”
― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
Drafts are good, but better still is published.
And, the last but definitely not the least important thing about developing a writing habit is – just do it. Write it and send it out int the world. It will find its home, the right audience will find the words, and you will find yourself wanting to experience it, all over again.