Category : Writing


This Month Has Produced Millions More Readers for My Writing than I’ve Ever Seen

Tim Denning Writing Advice

Photo by Andre Tan on Unsplash

My writing has reached millions more people this month than any other month in the last six years.

This is not a humblebrag. It’s a moment to study and learn from.

What has changed this month with my writing? Let’s analyze so you can use the learnings to help your work outperform, too.

A dramatic shift in soundtracks

The soundtrack you write to affects your mood. Your mood affects your writing — big time.

This month I started writing to different music as an experiment away from the typical movie soundtracks.

A song like “Prodigy — Breathe” produced this insane writing style. It was hypnotic. Full of energy. Unstoppable, even.

Action you can take: Change the music you create to. Watch the difference.

10X personality

A lot of the writing I read online puts me to sleep.

I realized that writing puts me to sleep when there is no personality. Dry facts about meditation and walking are so boring. But a slow walk with Madonna or a meditation session with a crane hitting your house is interesting.

This month I have really let my personality be unleashed. I’ve stopped thinking about what might upset people and said what, to me, is helpful.

All of us have oodles of personality underneath our fragile egos. Let go of how people perceive you, and be yourself. You won’t get fired by being yourself unless you become a troll and tear other people’s dreams to the ground.

Action you can take: practicecreating content for social media that is unfiltered. Drop the F-bomb if you must and don’t feel guilty.

3X more flow

Yeah, yeah, yeah….you’ve heard it before. But flow states can change your life. This month I have experimented and life-hacked the heck out of flow states. I reached a record the other day of 8 hours in a flow state.

These flow states have seen me go from 10 blog posts a week to 14–15. The number of social media posts I can create has doubled too.

Here’s the trick to flow: wireless headphones that don’t leave your head.

Yep, I discovered this hack by accident. I started going to the bathroom, making lunch, and reading books with the same music repeating over and over. The non-stop music put me in a trance. Before, I would take the headphones off several times a day.

When you take your headphones off, you break your flow state.

Action you can take: buy some noise-canceling headphones and leave them on for an entire day. Aim to beat how much time you can spend in flow being creative.

An enhanced work ethic

This month I have worked my face off. I have really gone all-in rather than danced on the sidelines of excuses, blaming and fragile complaints.

I have put in a lot more work and not been tempted by pathetic distractions like another movie on Netflix that tells me nothing about life.

A simple creative hack is this: work more hours than you did last month. You can simply outwork your prior results if you choose. It’s so stupidly easy to do.

Action you can take: estimate how many hours you worked last month. Beat your record this month (without working yourself into the ground).

Contemplate this question:

What if what you did changed the world?

This question has changed the reason for me to be creative. When you attach yourself to a big idea like changing the world, you do what you do, differently. I keep thinking maybe I’m helping a person through one of the most difficult times in history. I have attached this idea to every writing day.

“Today I’m writing so someone doesn’t lose their job, or to help a stranger start a business.” This self-talk stops me from worrying about my precious goals and fantasies of sitting on a beach drinking water out of a coconut.

Action you can take: steal my question to be creative or create your own. Choose a question to ask yourself consistently that is bigger than you.

Get visual

My writing has become a lot more visual. I have added a lot more imagery to how I write. When I describe failure I use descriptions you can visualize. If your dream burned to the ground like the twin towers on 911, could you visualize that? Does it feel different?

Action you can take: describe the advice you can offer with relatable images.

Shake more hands

This month I have made it a daily habit to connect with a new writer. I have reached out to big writers like James Altucher, and writers many of you have never heard of.

These writers have supported my work and helped it reach larger audiences without me having them to beg them to do anything. These writers have also helped me get out of my creative bubble. They’ve said things like “that article you wrote made no sense.”

Fellow creators show you your flaws.

Action you can take: meet one new creator each day. Don’t ask them for anything, just talk.

Read to learn

I have read more blog posts this month than any other month (check my profile to see). A consistent learner eventually increases their results, subtly.

Reading other writers has been a lot of fun too. Maybe all you need to do is read more so you can learn more. Reading is an underrated life hack that any creative can use to be inspired more often and stumble across new ideas.

Action you can take: set one-hour aside each day to read short blog posts.

Treat strangers better

This one is hard to admit. Some months I have accidentally treated people badly. I have replied to a message with a smartass response or been accidentally unkind.

No one likes a smartass.

This month has been all about treating everybody well. If a troll messages me, I thank them and try to build them up, rather than tell them they are wrong. If my social media account gets taken away (one of them did) I ask nicely for the issue to be resolved. If a company that has my money (like a travel agent) goes bankrupt and I need to call them, I put myself in their shoes and talk nicely. Everybody has the capacity to be nice.

The crazy part is when you treat everybody — not just a few people — better, they treat you better back. Why is this important? You need other people to be creative and 10X your results. As a writer I rely on publications, editors, readers, business owners and freelancers to make my vision a reality.

Action you can take: stop yourself next time you feel like you’re going to lose control and be rude to someone. Choose to say nothing.

This article isn’t a brag fest for Timmy’s ego. Hopefully you have learned a few ways you can create more and level-up your results. If all you do is put more effort into your work this month than you did last month, you’ll see a tangible difference in your results.

Don’t be afraid to unleash your personality, treat people better, double down on your creative habits, contemplate questions bigger than you, and meet more people who can help you progress your goals.

Phenomenal results help you dissect your process, so you can go further in your life than you ever imagined.

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How Do Some Writers Gain Traction Really Fast? You Think of Writing like This

Writing is a workout Tim Denning

Photo by Martin Katler on Unsplash

Some days I’d rather sip lattes than write.

The motivation to write is not always there. So how do some writers like Sean Kernan gain so much traction so fast? They think about writing in a different way. Writing is a workout for their mind.

Each writing activity is a different exercise targeting a different muscle group.

  • Writing trains your biceps
  • Editing trains your back
  • Choosing cover images trains your shoulders
  • Choosing headlines works your abs
  • Pitching publications trains your legs

The number of stories you write is the “reps.”

You do each of these writing activities over and over to build each muscle. If you only train one muscle then you’ll be weak in another area of your writing.

You have to train each muscle, ideally on different days, so you don’t burnout trying to train your whole body.

Word count is your heart rate.

As you write more your word count increases, thus your ability to use your editing muscle to edit down your work later must get stronger so you’re not making people read a 90-minute story that rants about a flower box you saw.

You keep the heart rate of your work beating by keeping your word count up.

The number of times you write is your gym membership.

Do you let your gym membership lapse? Hell no. You keep building your muscle by showing up to the gym and paying your membership on time.

This means you want to make writing a habit that is scheduled in your diary and has a deadline at the end of your session.

Spontaneous writing belongs in books about fantasy lands.

Do your workout every week.
2 times per week is optimal.
Daily = huge writing muscles.

The level of vulnerability you use is the weight you lift in pounds.

At the gym you lift weight and try to beat how much you lifted yesterday. With writing the aim is to increase your level of vulnerability. Vulnerability feels like lifting enormous weights. You feel fearful when you hit publish.

If you’re not afraid to hit publish then up the weights. See if you can lift heavier weights and let your ego stop being a handicap.

Your brain will be exhausted at the end of your workout.

After a good workout you’re exhausted. You’ve let all the emotion, pain, wisdom and energy out of your mind, and placed it on the page for readers to read. The next thing you do is rest.

Your writing muscles won’t grow without rest.

Rest looks like taking your mind off writing.

Reading books is the recovery protein shake you take to help your muscles grow while you rest for the next workout. Writing short posts on social media are the boost amino acids give you when you come back to the gym.

You have to workout a lot because quality is subjective.

This is a great debate amongst writers. I believe that one-off workouts, every now and then, is for chumps. You won’t get anywhere.

You’ll go and chase a book deal. You’ll look for the one-time success of your first book becoming a New York Times Bestseller. You’ll expect a viral blog post, or a major publication like Forbes to pay you for the workouts you do, after the first three sets.

The truth is nobody knows what your best writing is. You can’t predict viral or popular. I have been able to predict the success of fellow writers like Sean Kernan based on their workouts.

If a writer is going to the gym, working out a lot, doing the reps, changing exercises, targeting different muscle groups and not trying to be Arnie Schwarzenegger with their ego, they’ll crush it… quickly.

After the workout comes the battle arena.

*Queues Gladiator Movie Soundtrack*

What comes after the workout is the battle arena where you hit publish and get your pretty little face beaten up.

The battle arena is where you will face the harsh critics, the people who cheer for you, the other writers who might envy you, the high school bullies who still want to kick your ass, and the bad bosses who think they can control what you write.

You can’t stay in the comfort of the gym in draft mode. Publishing is where shit gets real. It’s where your personality, thoughts, ideas and view of the world are tested. The key to the battle arena is to disconnect from the result.

Sometimes you will win in triumph glory as a writer. Other times you’ll enter the battle arena and an online troll will swing an ax at your face and leave you bloody and beaten. You get back up. You hit publish again.

You will face your own demons in the battle arena

Your negative thoughts about your writing are your demons.

Your thoughts that tell you to shut up or make you feel like you’re not good enough to have a voice.

Your own demons often can’t be beaten with brute force or your writing muscles. You beat your demons by working on yourself, not your muscles.

This is the part of your writing fitness where you believe in yourself and what you have to say, where you conquer those negative thoughts and win the fight. It’s a simple idea: everything is going to be okay.

You will write something stupid or drop a dumbbell on your foot in front of the good-looking person who is reading your writing. Take it from a skinny guy who enters the gym and causes eyes to roll with thoughts of “damn you need a workout bro.”

Mistakes are a given. Winning is an endurance test. How many years can you write and not give up? That’s the real test, and you can pass it and feel the power of victory as a writer by helping strangers with their problems or changing how they think about something.

Writing can change your life when you compare it to working out in the gym. You build muscle by working out. You become a writer who gains traction really fast by writing a lot and putting in the work.

Write like you’re going to the gym to workout. Do the reps with a smile.

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I Pitched James Altucher via Email - He Rejected Me

Tim Denning Self Improvement

Photo by Mikey Harris on Unsplash

I got out of my chair and yelled “I’m going to pitch James Altucher!”

Spur of the moment inspiration can teach you a lot. You have probably been inspired by a writer or podcaster or vlogger before and dreamt of emailing them to perhaps make a new friend or change your life.

That’s what happened to me last week. I listened to a podcast with James Altucher (Top 10 iTunes Podcaster) and blogger Jon Morrow. I have had a secret desire to help James on this platform.

His stories break all the rules: caps in the headline, odd formatting, the occasional clickbait title, confusing images, etc.

I thought I might be able to help. Maybe James would let me offer some free advice or allow me to manage his account. I was living in a fantasy land.

I sent James an email early morning. I made sure that I got straight to the point and didn’t waste his time. I told him my credentials, lowered my ego and offered to help with no hidden agenda. I even told him that there was no obligation to reply.

James rejected me. How?

The way all influential people do: by not responding.

I sent the same message to him via Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Every influential person has one platform they actually use and respond on. The others are managed by their team.

Even with my omnichannel approach, James still ignored me. I respect James for doing that.

James ignored me for many reasons. Let’s explore a few:

  • Too busy — Influential people are busy. They often see email and direct messages as a full-time job they don’t want. So they ignore almost all messages. They have a virtual assistant that skims their inbox looking for 1–2 nuggets of gold. The rest goes into archive without guilt.
  • Lousy pitch — There’s a good chance my pitch was lousy — despite me reaching some influential people like Derek Sivers via email over the years. A pitch you think is good could be tone-deaf. Unless you know someone who spends time with the influential person you’re pitching, you probably have no idea what they’re up against. Your pitch could be the last thing they need.
  • Doesn’t like advice from people he doesn’t know — I am a stranger to James. We have zero mutual friends. He has never read my work. So my offer to help is a long shot. Influential leaders get help from people they know or that are recommended to them. If Richard Branson recommended me to James then perhaps he would go “holy shit,” followed by hell yes.
  • Covid brain — The overwhelm is real.Being locked in your home and going to the shops with a mask can take its toll. A lack of human touch can make you feel disconnected. As a result, you develop what I call covid brain. It’s where you become numb. Your priorities change. A response to a situation is often your last thought. Non-reaction becomes your driving force.
  • The offer doesn’t match his goals — I have never seen James’s goal list. Perhaps this platform I’m pitching him is the last thing he cares about. Perhaps he is one month away from closing his account. If your pitch doesn’t match a person’s goal then they probably won’t respond.
  • He can find better people — I pitched myself as an expert. The reality is James can find people way smarter than me to help him with social media. He’s probably friends with Zucks, Bezos, Dorsey. So what the heck can I tell him that he can’t already acquire from people that own the tech platforms? Not much.

Do This Next Time You Pitch

A silent rejection to your pitch is a blessing. The key is not to let a failed pitch to a person like James Altucher get you down.

Expect rejection.

If you expect to be rejected then the outcome won’t matter to you.

The moment you attach expectations to a pitch, you’re screwed. I’ve said this many times before: an influential person, when you see how they act behind the scenes, will probably disappoint you. There are a few like Gary Vee that buck this trend, though.

Pitch for the joy, not the reply.

Pitching should be fun. To pitch an influential person is to believe in the impossible, the unlikely, the esoteric.

To send a pitch is to believe in yourself.

Learning to pitch is fun. It requires you to put yourself on the line and to be vulnerable. This discomfort from pitching pays off in the long run.

Expect rejection as the likely result.

Assume rejection. Then you won’t get romantic about the outcome and blame the world for the overwhelming blow to your fragile ego. Most pitches you send will be ignored because you can’t read people’s minds.

Follow up.

The secret to any pitch is not the first message you send.

The first messaged has a high chance of being ignored. Influential people like James Altucher appreciate the hustle. What is hustle when it comes to pitching? Following up on your message with empathy. Assume they are busy and send them a gentle reminder in 1–2 weeks.

This strategy has worked for me many times. I follow up at least four times across many channels. I reword the subject lines too, to see if I can get better cut-through.

Think of an email subject line like a book title or a headline. You have to grab their attention straight away.

Pitch someone different.

If James rejects your pitch then move on to the next person. The art of the pitch is to move on to the next person. You can always revisit an old pitch in a year’s time.

What I didn’t mention yet was that I pitched James a year ago. That pitch failed, too, so I let the storm pass. Don’t let one failed pitch stop you.

Keep pitching. Improve your pitch. Seek feedback on your pitch. Find the next person to pitch who might say yes.

Final Thought

The pitch I sent James Altucher received no response, and in a way, I’m glad. The lessons of rejection are far more important than the outcome.

A pitch is not about you and your selfish agenda for success. Someone might be going through hell right now and your pitch could land right in the middle of a disastrous period in their life. For example, your pitch for a podcast interview during the middle of an influential person’s divorce is meaningless.

Pitch often and don’t expect a response.

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Lessons from Millionaire Blogger Jon Morrow After 8 Years of Writing

Jon Morrow Millionaire Blogging

Photo by Chris Benson on Unsplash

There are some damn inspiring people in the world whose last name is not “Musk.” Jon Morrow is one of them.

I discovered him a few years ago. He’s a bright spark for those experiencing darkness. He’s not just a writer; he’s an inspiration. He’s the sort of guy that can make you wake up and change your life.

The most impressive part about Jon’s story is not the $5.3M he made from his website “Smart Blogger” or the other three blogs he has taken to over $1M in revenue per year — it’s the simple lessons you can learn from him.

Kick a horrific disease in the butt.

Jon Morrow has Spinal Muscular Atrophy. It means he lives in an electric wheelchair. He’s not supposed to live a long time either. His doctor told his mother when he was a boy that one day he’d catch an infection that would attack his lungs and give him pneumonia, causing him to die.

The doctor was right. Jon got pneumonia 16 times and didn’t die.

Jon lives his life in an electric wheelchair. He kicked the disease in the butt because he didn’t let it win. See, Jon can’t type on a keyboard like you and I can. Jon has to talk into a microphone and have his words turned into text. And that’s why Jon won. He screwed up his disease’s goals by finding another way to write. The score stands:

Disease: 0
Jon Morrow: 17 wins (and counting)

A handicap in life only holds you back if you let it.

You only get defeated by adversity when you decide to.

Online courses can make you a lot of money.

Jon makes over $1M per year from his blog “Smart Blogger” through online courses. Many people misunderstand the opportunity to earn a living from education.

Universities have been disrupted thanks to a global health crisis. A lot of the billions of dollars universities charge will be eaten up by people like you and me who can teach a skill online using a platform like Teachable.

Most of the writers I know make at least 50% of their living from teaching skills using online courses, than they do from actual writing. It’s the secret sauce behind Benjamin Hardy’s million-dollar writing empire too.

Don’t underestimate online courses as a way to earn a living online, even if money isn’t your goal.

People buy your attitude.

Jon’s attitude is infectious. As research for this story I attended Jon’s Webinars, signed up to his many email newsletters and took one of his courses. You know what was impressive: his attitude.

The way he looks at life as being slightly skewed in his favor is amazing. People like me buy his attitude not his products. Jon says “guys like me should be wasting away in a nursing home.” Not Jon. He wants to change people’s lives through writing.

Your attitude is the catalyst for your eventual results.

Let a car accident force you to leave your job if you’re unhappy.

In 2006 Jon got hit by a car going 85 miles an hour. The accident caused his legs to be broken in 14 places. He didn’t die (again).

The accident left Jon in hospital for three months. He had a lot of time to think. The realization he came to was “he didn’t like where things were going.” So Jon did the unthinkable and quit his job.

Get medical bill motivation.

The decision to quit his job was considered insane by Jon’s friends because his medical expenses alone in the US were $127,000 USD per year.

He needed his job primarily for healthcare. It made him feel like a corporate puppet. Insanely, he left it all behind and backed himself. He knew he would find a way because he had medical bill motivation in his life.

Jon crunched the numbers and realized he’d have to make a drastic shift in his life. This led him to quit living in the US and move to Mexico.

His goal was to find a way to earn money without having to worry about healthcare. The decision was to start a blog, which seemed wild to some people considering he could only move his face and nothing else.

Don’t tinker. Commit.

Many people try to do what Jon has done. Where they fall short is they tinker rather than commit. Jon was committed to blogging.

He started working on his blogging business at 8 AM in the morning and kept going to 11 PM each night. All he says he did was read, write and connect with other bloggers. No tv, chatting to friends or chasing girls down the street.

You can do a lot when you go all-in.

Fail at three blogs.

Jon’s first three blogs failed. They were a place for him to practice getting good. He was okay with the failed blogs because they taught him the skills that led him to become a millionaire blogger.

Your first blog should suck. Your first 100 articles will be terrible. Keep going beyond the initial failure.

Learn sales.

Jon is a secret salesman and I don’t think he knows it. As I listened to his webinars it was apparent that he knows how to sell.

He doesn’t flog you nonsense, though. He finds your problem and gives you the solution. The key is he gives you a lot of the solution upfront. In fact I’m willing to bet if you straight up asked him the solution to a blogging problem he’d probably tell you for free without needing your credit card.

Sales is just persuasion.

You need to persuade people to believe in you… to get anywhere in life.

“You can do this.”

People need to hear those four words right now. Jon says it a lot in his blog posts, podcasts and webinars. He explains what he believes in, in simple terms, and then tells you, you can too. We all need a little encouragement. Those four magic words help you believe in what is possible for your life.

Everybody else is busy telling you what you can’t do.

I believe you can. If you want to inspire people or earn a living online or write your dreams into reality, then go for it. There’s no one to stop you, only yourself.

Talk about your lifestyle.

Jon’s content is addictive because he shares the lifestyle his way of thinking brings. He talks a lot about how he doesn’t stress and can even afford to buy his father a car.

You don’t need to humblebrag. You can talk about how you live which can help others decide how they want to live. Lifestyle design is powerful in the online world. Design how you want to live your life, or a bad boss waiting for their next victim will do it for you.

Fuse your story into everything.

Your life story is unique. It holds immense potential that you can unleash when you tap into it.

Tell your story. You may not have gone to the moon and that’s the best part. People love common stories they can relate to. Jon sprinkles his story of defying the odds into everything he does. You can too.

Don’t be afraid to make money.

Making money online does not make you a sell-out.

You can sell your skills online and earn a living. It’s okay. Plenty of people are doing it. Why not you?

Jon is fine with charging money for his writing and his time. Master your own skills and do the same if you want.

A simple call-to-action is powerful.

Jon’s websites, email marketing, and landing pages all have one call to action: “Teach Me.” He shares his story and then tells you he can teach you. It’s subtle; it’s not too salesy.

Being a teacher is a noble cause. Anyone can be a teacher.

I don’t agree with everything Jon Morrow says.

Like any good teacher, not everything Jon says is on the money. Some of what he says is not so helpful. He promotes content marketing which can force people to write for the wrong reason.

You can get so hung up on writing for money and promoting companies that you lose track of what you’re doing. If all you do is promote companies you’ll probably get bored and quit fast.

Jon also loves personal branding. I do not. Personal branding forces people into a world of selfishness. They fall in love with their last name. Gary Vee said it best: “I really miss when people understood that people who consume their content are a community, not a group of people that are there to serve their ambitions.”

Final Thought

Find an unconventional online mentor like Jon Morrow. Find someone who is sharing a different narrative to the one that says get a job, buy a luxury car, have 2.1 kids and get into a huge amount of debt with a home that won’t make you happy.

You can learn from an online mentor and then become the teacher when you’re ready.

If you want to write online then don’t let anybody stop you. If a skinny dude from Australia with a bad education can do it, and if Jon Morrow can do it from a wheelchair, then so can you.

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Be Afraid to Hit Publish - If You Want to Reach Millions of People

Be Afraid to Hit Publish 

Photo by Brajeshwar Oinam on Unsplash

James Altucher is not just a man with a killer afro.

In an interview with blogger Jon Morrow, James gave this advice:

Be afraid to hit publish.

His words resonated with me. Vulnerability is the superpower I discovered, that helped me reach millions of people online. Without vulnerability, your stories won’t resonate. 

It will just be you quoting other people and letting their smartness rub off on your writing. People will get tired if you don’t fuse your own stories into your writing.

Writing without vulnerability is soulless.

You’ll have to hand back your avatar at some point

Your current life is nothing more than a name, date of birth, profile picture and a postcode somewhere on Earth. You are part of a game called life and you currently have an avatar — for how long, nobody knows.

At some point you will leave this world and have to hand back your avatar. If there is no afterlife, then you’re done. If there is an afterlife, then maybe, like me, you can hope to be handed a ladybug avatar and live a different life, where vulnerability doesn’t matter.

I explain life and the person you are as an avatar to give you perspective.

You’re not going to be here for a very long time. Your days will pass. So what the heck are you afraid of? You can hide behind an avatar or step into a faint spotlight and publish your words. Your words have power. Your words can help so many people. The trouble is, many people just like you, are too afraid to write a story that reveals their weaknesses and hit publish.

Hitting publish when you’re afraid is like an arm wrestle.

“Yes, I will hit publish. No, I won’t hit publish.”

This recurring thought happens in all writer’s heads. No writer is immune from feeling afraid when they utilize vulnerability.

Shatter your fragile ego into a million pieces and share those tiny pieces of yourself with millions of readers all around the world, who could do with a piece of you to help them.

I often wish I didn’t use my real name

Part of being afraid to hit publish has to do with your name. I decided early on to use my real name as a writer. This can be both a blessing and a curse.

You can hide behind a fake name or a stage name, but your stories won’t land the same. People want to know you are real. The hardest choice you can make is to use your real name when you write.

The huge advantage when you use your real name to write is that you have leverage on yourself.

I used a stage name when I was a musician signed to a record label. It was a bad decision because I never put all of myself into the music. I didn’t care about the outcome or try hard enough because the fake name meant I could always walk away with my ego intact.

When your ego is on the line, your words tell a different story. A story that is raw, and perhaps, breathtaking.

The best stories are the ones you feel like deleting

Last week I published a story about how life is like porn. Having my name show up in google with the word “porn” seems like a poor decision for a corporate man by day, and a writer by night.

I nearly hit delete on the story. I read it back and it sounded scary.

Publications, platforms, and readers could really get angry with a simple word like porn. It was a risk. And many people found the story helpful. By supplementing the word addiction for porn, it changed how the lessons came off. People could suddenly relate to it the story.

Had I have deleted that story because of a tiny little word that offends many people, I would never have got to sit back and see the beauty of people discovering their own version of porn in their life.

Holding back stories out of fear

I have a story I can’t publish.

I have been trying to publish this story for months and can’t bring myself to do it. It’s deeply personal, and I hope, helpful. Most of the time I succeed at publishing vulnerable stories or getting over my fear. But not this time. I’m afraid. Trapped. Alone with this boogie monster of story looking down at me and saying “who are you, you little punk?”

That’s why James Altucher’s words cut deep when he said “Be afraid to hit publish.” Somehow, he guessed what I was facing and became an unofficial coach in my battle to protect a figment of my imagination: my name.

When you hold back stories, you stop them from setting you free. What do I mean? A story that makes you afraid to hit publish, if you face it and defeat it, is a triumphant win. Every time you feel the fear and hit publish anyway, you win against yourself. The next time you have to do it, it gets slightly easier.

The rawer your stories the more people want to hear from you. Vulnerability can take you to the highest places as a writer when you unlock it. Why?

There is so much fake nonsense disguised as content on the internet.

A lot of content is purely selfish. It’s content published for the writer, not the reader. It’s content designed to feed a writer’s ego rather than help a reader escape a bad day or a tragedy.

Facing your fear as a writer and hitting publish makes you helpful. If you’re helpful for long enough, you have the potential to be a guiding light through all the darkness the world is facing due to an invisible illness.

Maybe you need to be afraid more when you publish

If all the stories you write are safe and easy to publish, and you feel you’ve hit a plateau as a writer — or worse, nobody is reading your work — maybe being afraid of the words you type is the answer.

My own writing sucked when I published ridiculous startup press releases and made entrepreneurs out to be superheroes in capes saving children from burning buildings.

The highest level you can reach as a writer is to feel afraid by what you write.

Jump in the deep end and let your writing scare you. Pretty soon, your writing won’t scare you as much, and you’ll have a new level to aim for.

Raw, unfiltered writing is life-changing.

There is one lesson I have learned after six years of writing online: Choose to be afraid to hit publish and you’ll reach millions of people.

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I Always Feel Ridiculously Stupid When I Write

Tim Denning Writing

Photo by Guillaume Issaly on Unsplash

Every time I open up a blank page to write, I feel stupid. Like what I have to say is inadequate and petty compared to, say, Elon Musk. How can I compete with Elon Musk? Well most of us can’t.

Elon has rocket ships. What you got?

What if I was to tell you that feeling stupid or inadequate was normal? What if I told you it was a must to be a good writer?

Your ideas probably seem stupid

I have these lightning bolt ideas all the time to write about. I suddenly think I have hit the writing jackpot. Then my mind says “your ideas are stupid. You’re not Ryan Holiday.”

My mind is quick to shoot down my ideas. Still to this day I hit publish on every article thinking my ideas are stupid. I cringe when I read the headlines of my work or dip my foot in the pool of sharks that is a paragraph typed by me. I just feel….so stupid.

What makes it harder is when the comments confirm my stupidity. “Great you just published the stupidest article on the internet, moron,” a commenter writes. Glorious. Just what my already beaten to a pulp ego needs on a Saturday morning right after a bulletproof coffee.

You feel like a fraud

It’s easy to feel like a fraud when you write.

I write a lot about kindness and humility. Am I like that all the time? Nope. I screamed at someone on the footpath the other day because of cabin-fever induced, second lockdown syndrome. (Don’t worry I said sorry.)

Now when I write about kindness I think about that footpath altercation. It tells me I’m a fraud. The truth is we are all frauds, sometimes.

There are always one-percenters that don’t align with who you are. Forgive yourself. Write.

You feel like you are a liar

Writer, Niklas Goke, was right: all writers are liars.

Retelling stories is hard work. Getting all the details 100% right is near-impossible. When you tell the same story over and over for years, your mind starts to forget some of the finer details. As you grow as a person, your mind reframes stories. My story used to be a tragic one full of darkness. Now I see my story as being similar to the hero’s journey.

This change from negative to positive means that I naturally add optimism or positivity to every story, even if it’s a bad story. I can’t help slightly twist the truth in favor of my new worldview. You feel like a liar because the person you used to be has changed.

Embrace the change to your story over time.

You feel naked

Sharing your darkest truths, the way I have on the internet, makes me feel naked. I walk into the virtual Zoom office each morning and see all the eyes staring at me. It’s intimidating. Are they looking at me weird because of that LinkedIn post about losing everything? Who knows.

To write well is to be vulnerable.

To write is to be naked. You feel exposed because you’re sharing your thoughts with the world for the benefit of others. It doesn’t make sense; until it makes sense.

Naked means your ego is stripped away. You no longer think too much about what people think because you’re not writing for yourself anymore — that’s how I feel. So whilst facing the world during an economic blizzard is freezing cold, your heart still warms your insides. Your inner warmth keeps you alive; it keeps others alive too.

“Feel the fear and do it anyway”

If you feel stupid when you write, and you will, then this quote can help you. Feel the fear and hit publish. Don’t dim the guiding light of your thoughts.

If you feel fear when you write, I’ve learned, you’re on the right path. Keep going.

You’re not stupid because you write. You don’t have all the answers. You will be wrong a lot. People will stab you in the eye with a toothpick loaded with hateful comments. Feel the fear and write anyway.

I still feel stupid when I write. The only reason I keep going and look stupid is because it’s not about me anymore. Get over yourself as a writer and you can do a helluva lot of good. Writing is not about you and your fragile ego.

Push past your selfish desires and see what you can discover.

If a dumb Aussie can write for six years, with stories that contain grammar errors, then you can too.

Embrace your stupidity. Feel stupid. Get over yourself. Write and hit publish like it’s a gym workout you do every day to stay healthy.

When you feel stupid, you grow into a writer you never thought you could be.

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