On writing every day

The biggest challenge involved with signing up for regular content generation is, well, content generation. Generating content becomes a lot easier if the content is tied with the news in some way. That way, there’s something new and interesting to write about every day.

I would argue that every daily blog is built on the idea of a news feed. Instead of seeing conventional news, we simply see a feed of ideas from the author’s brain. So, it is natural that Fred Wilson’s blog is mostly about technology, venture capital and entrepreneurship. And, it also makes sense that Seth Godin writes about marketing, taking initiative and writing among other such topics. As you might have noticed, what they write about has a lot to do with their chosen craft.

When I started writing here, I just wanted to change the way I thought about failure. I also fervently hoped that, over time, I’d build up my discipline muscles to be able to live up to my commitment to write a learning every day. I didn’t really believe I could, then. As I didn’t have any craft as a 19 year old in university, I was clearly not going to be writing about anything craft related. I wasn’t particularly wise either. So, I didn’t think I had too much insight to offer. But, hey, I figured anybody could look at their day and share a learning. So, this blog began as a theme-less blog. As time passes and I find myself committing to an industry (technology), I do find myself thinking about (often intentionally) technology more. However, a few posts aside, this blog has largely stayed, in my mind at least, theme-less.

Over time, however, I’ve realized that this blog isn’t really theme-less. It does, in fact, have a theme. Just one. It deals with an approach to life that is built on an idea – being a student of life. A few years into writing a learning a day, I realized that the act of looking for a learning every day had completely changed the way I saw the world. Things that were the same didn’t look the same any more. Writing here had changed me. And, I found myself switch from writing about my experiences and learnings all the time to writing about them some of the time. There arose a new genre of posts – posts about “how” to learn. And, since the grand theme was being a student of life, this naturally became about “how” to live. That was the moment it stopped being about me and my experiences and, instead, became about finding “the” answer to some meaty questions – how can you live a good life?, how do you learn?, how do you be happy?, etc. My experiences, thus, became just a means to carry out experiments and test the various theories that I thought made sense. This constant iteration-driven approach was intended at unearthing a set of principles which governed life on this planet. Lofty, I know. But, as with all worthy journeys, this was less about the destination and more about the journey.

All this brings me back to the idea of seeing a feed of ideas from the writer’s brain. As a result, blogging every day becomes all about seeing the world from the writer’s point of view. That is why I picked out topics folks like Fred and Seth write about – if they talk about their craft a lot, it is simply because they think about their craft a lot and see it everywhere.

(Seth, as per usual, has a shorter and better version of the above paragraphs in a post about “learning to see” that I’m unable to find right now. It is an idea I have only begun to appreciate over time.)

All of this, to me, is why writing every day is so powerful. It is just you, unvarnished – just your thoughts and your writing instrument stand between you and your readers. There is no act, no bullshit. You just learn to show up in your own authentic voice every day.

As of today, it’s been about 7 years and 7 months of daily blogging here. And, as I think about what this blog will look like in the next 7 years, I think I would expect to see more posts about my craft as my craft of choice becomes clearer. But, true to its roots, I expect the core of what I write to continue to be about “how” to learn. Teaching myself “how” to learn has underscored one thing – how we approach something is how we approach everything. That is why thinking about how to learn translates so beautifully into thinking about how to live.

I didn’t know any of this when I started on this journey, of course. It is only now that I’m beginning to grasp how this simple act of writing every day has transformed me. It has done what a great education does – not just changed what I see, but also shaped how I see. And, while I am benefiting greatly from a $200K education in the principles of business that is truly changing the way I see the world, I sometimes wonder what the real value of the sort of life education this blog has inspired is. It definitely gets an A+ for impact.

So, it follows that when I am asked the “how do I get started on blogging?” question from an aspiring blogger, I always try to get at the motive. If it is for someone else and isn’t something you’re getting paid to do, my experience dictates that it isn’t going to work in the long run. It is way too much work. The only way this can work is if you do so for yourself and if you focus on sharing what you see. That is why this blog goes against most conventional blogging advice – optimize heavily for SEO, spend at least as much time promoting as you spend on writing, get popular guest bloggers, focus on building an audience, etc.

The only thing I optimize for is showing up every day and sharing what I’m seeing. It is this simplicity that has made it work for me.

And, luckily, thanks to your thirst for learning related content on the Internet, I have gotten to have you join in the journey as readers and, then, hear from and engage with many of you wonderful people. So, for all of you who’ve joined the community over the course of this year, I thought I’d share the backstory of the thought process behind these daily notes.

As this year comes to a close, I’d like to thank you for sharing these notes with your friends and family, writing in every once a while, and, most importantly, for giving me a minute or two of your attention every day. It means more than you know. :-)

writing, write