“There has got to be more to life than the 9-5.” This is the thought that started it all. Without it, this site wouldn’t exist. I didn’t know what I’d get out of starting a blog, I just knew I wanted to write. I hoped it would teach me a thing or two about myself, and what makes me happy. I hoped my writing would inspire others who were asking themselves the same questions I am.
It’s been three months and 25 posts up to now, and as it turns out, it’s done both of those and more. In the short time this site’s been live, I’ve has some personal wins, fallen flat on my face a few times, and learned some hard lessons along the way. Some of them were expected, while others… I just never saw coming.
I’m thinkin’ maybe I should share those with you so that you stand a fighting chance of dealing with them better than I did at first.
Writing is hard…
And it’s hard for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, it’s tough to articulate what’s in your head to get it down on paper. Other times, you say it, but it’s less interesting on paper than it was in your head, and you scrap it. Sometimes you don’t know what to write about, and other times you know what to say but simply don’t want to say it.
…but it’s totally worth it.
Despite everything I just said, writing is worth the effort it demands of you. For one, it forces you to really understand what it is you’re trying to say. You can’t put something down on paper in an interesting way if you don’t understand it well enough in your own head.
Sometimes I have these half-baked thoughts that make me want to write, without knowing what exactly it is that I want to write about. Before I can actually sit down and get started, I have to stop and fully flesh out that thought in my head. In the process, I usually learn something about myself.
Another reason I like writing publicly like this is that it forces me to make a commitment. I’ve committed to writing twice a week, on Wednesday and Sundays. Is it hard to keep that commitment sometimes? Yep. Is it scary to make it publicly? Hell yeah. But that’s exactly why I did it. It pushes you out of your comfort zone, and you grow as a result.
Your writing will suck at first.
Most of mine still does 🙂 but the only way to get better is to practice. I’m also reading a couple books on the art of storytelling right now, along with reading other blogs with inspiring writing styles (if you want a few examples, check out this list). I think both of these will help me improve my own storytelling skills!
Despite what you thought, you’ll gravitate to some topics more than others.
I have a soft spot for my posts on the arts; specifically, karate and photography. Those topics are the ones I have the most ideas for, and the ones I most enjoy writing about. That’s why you see the most posts falling under those categories on my site; it wasn’t on purpose, it just happened that way. And you know what? Those posts are more passionate and, in my opinion, better-written than all of the others.
And because of that, I learned something about myself. I learned something about what I value, what’s important to me and where I’m learning the most in my life right now. All of this, because I’m writing about stuff on this site.
Getting people to your site is hard work.
The old quote “If you build it, they will come” doesn’t quite apply the same way to blogs as it may to other things! You can buy a domain name, set up a well-designed site, write some great articles, and still barely have any traffic for weeks. You can’t just flip a switch and expect people to flock in droves to your site, it doesn’t work that way.
No, it takes work. I think that for many, success involves writing your articles not just for people, but for Google too. It takes promoting in all of your social media channels. It takes commenting on countless other blogs in the fields you write about. It takes building relationships with other bloggers to co-promote your work. It takes guest posting on other sites.
And even then, it doesn’t happen overnight.
But you know what? Good. I’m glad it isn’t easy, because if it were, everybody would be doing it, and the value of working and working and building and building would be lost. Part of the reason I enjoy writing for this site is because it’s hard. It builds resiliency and perseverance, and I love that.
Sometimes you need to be vulnerable.
I guess you can hide behind the veil of anonymity online, but most people I know who blog don’t. If you put your real self out there, it means being vulnerable. You’re putting your soul onto the page, and posting that page up for the world to read about it. Some people will love it. Others won’t.
And you know what, who gives a shit?
See here’s the thing: I believe that if you want to put your very best writing out there, then it has to be writing that is unwaveringly, unquestionably, unrestrainedly you. You can’t have success for any extended period of time by writing in a way, or on topics, that don’t align with your personality. It’ll show in your work. People can smell it, they can taste it in the flavour of your writing.
What this means is that, sooner or later, you’re going to need to put yourself out there. The real you. And that’s a beautiful thing, because as corny as it sounds, being the real you is awesome. When you put it down on paper for the first time, it’s terrifying. The second time, it’s a little less terrifying. And less, and less, until it’s not so bad anymore.
Eventually, the real you starts to show through in other areas of your life too. Maybe you stop pretending with those “friends” of yours. Maybe you carry yourself differently at work. Whatever the outcome, take it from a guy who spent a large part of his living trying to be someone else: being you is way easier and more fulfilling than being the person you think the world wants you to be.
And if you don’t know who the real you is? Write some more. You’ll start to figure it out… trust me.
Wrapping it Up
It’s been a hell of a ride so far, creating, shaping and writing on this site. I’ve come a long way in three months, and I have a long way to go. But I’m going to enjoy every step of the journey, because after all, isn’t that the point? Isn’t it less about the destination, and more about the journey?
Thanks to everyone who has supported me so far. Your positivity has elevated me and pushed me to keep writing even when it was hard. I hope you know what your support has meant to me, and if not, I hope this article helps show you.
I can’t wait to reflect again after the next 25 articles, and see how the lessons have changed. I’ll share them with you when the time comes!
How about you? I know there are a ton of people out there who are wrestling with the same things I do, who are walking the same path I am, either a little further ahead or a little further behind. What have you learned through your writing, or through any other form of art? Share your story in the comments!