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Category : Writing

Writing

Here’s How to Write on a Web 3.0 Platform

Ethereum Writing Platform

Photo by Humphrey Muleba on Unsplash


Web 3.0 is like discovering the internet in 1996.

It’s one of the most exciting opportunities of our lifetime. Yet, because Web 3.0 is a tech revolution, it’s buried in hard-to-understand information. The biggest opportunity I see on Web 3.0 is the ability for writers to publish work and earn money from it. That’s my main focus right now.

I publish tweets regularly about Web 3.0. I realized yesterday it’s not obvious how to take advantage of the opportunity. I’m going to explain it in simple terms so you can get started today.


A 5th grader overview your grandma will even love

Web 1.0 was desktops connected to the internet. Web 2.0 was mobile phones connected to the internet with apps on them, including social media apps that allowed us to leave comments on content.

Web 3.0 is built on top of blockchain. Blockchain enables trust. With blockchain, the internet slowly transforms from centralized to decentralized.

A decentralized internet isn’t controlled by big tech companies. A decentralized Web 3.0 is owned and governed by the users. The users benefit when the network grows. The network doesn’t care what color your skin is or whether you’re based in a country with sanctions.

When you hear Web 3.0 it’s a code word. There are many technologies all competing to lead the internet revolution. The primary one is Ethereum.

When you hear the phrase “Web 3.0” it simply means “built on Ethereum.”

Let’s make Ethereum easy to understand.

You have us the internet users. We use apps on our phones. Those apps then connect to Ethereum. Previously, there were many layers that sat underneath the apps you use on your phone, like ‘the cloud.’ Not anymore. Ethereum replaces all of that and more. That’s the simplest definition of Web 3.0 I can give you. Love it?

How to write on a Web 3.0 platform

Social media/writing apps sit on top of Ethereum. This space is so new that many of the apps haven’t even been built yet. Hello, entrepreneurs!

Let’s explore the two big writing platforms.

A new version of social media not run by Zuckerberg

Bitclout isn’t actually built on Ethereum but that detail doesn’t matter. Bitclout wishes to decentralize social media, including for writers.

They learned from Bitcoin and Ethereum that tech could be built around communities and open data — rather than being built around billionaire’s egos, shareholders, and profit.

Bitcoin and Ethereum are designed to fix the centralized financial system that creates money out of thin air and pretends that increasing the minimum wage will have an impact on everyday people. When in reality, they’ll simply create more money out of thin air to offset the wage increases.

Bitclout seeks to fix social media.

The part that confuses writers is what Bitclout can do. Bitclout allows you to invest in your favorite creators. That’s just version one. Bitclout has launched a decentralized version of Twitter (see example here), although it’s hard to navigate and find writers you love.

There is also a decentralized version of Spotify and Youtube coming to Bitclout. The ultimate role for Bitclout is to allow writers to manage our followers, reputation, investors who give us money, and all of our content.

Let me oversimplify this concept. Imagine all of your audience and content sat on Bitclout. Imagine you share your content via a decentralized version of Youtube called Bootube.

So you’re publishing content each day and life is good. Then one day Bootube’s users decide to change the rules and restrict users like you who have a belief in green aliens. Well, you could simply move all of your content to another decentralized video platform that sits on top of Bitclout. That’s the power of Web 3.0. That’s part of the Bitclout vision.

As writers, we can join Bitclout, claim our account, and publish short pieces of writing on the platform. There’s one easy way to write on Web 3.0.

A blog you own with full monetization

The second Web 3.0 platform for writers is Mirror.xyz. Mirror is built on top of Ethereum and allows writers to publish, own, and earn money from our content. It’s still new so gaining access requires entering a writing competition to prove your skills. Don’t worry, this requirement will go away.

Mirror.xyz allows your article to become an NFT.

An NFT is simply a digital representation of your piece of writing. That may seem insignificant. It’s actually huge.

Once your article becomes an NFT, it is then registered on the blockchain forever as being created by you. Tokens are easy to split up, sell, buy, move, and put together again as a brand new piece of writing.

NFTs make your writing portable. Your writing is no longer handcuffed by big tech. You can move your writing from one platform to another without having to pay a freelancer from Fiverr to copy and paste all your articles, resize the images, add/remove article links, reformat them, etc. Does that not blow your mind?

Decentralized writing platforms transform your articles into portable tokens you can monetize. Read that again.

Making money as a writer with Web 3.0

  • You can sell your article as an NFT.
  • You can have your audience invest in you as a writer. Those investors can then get a dividend on the writing you publish.
  • You can charge a subscription to access your articles as NFTs.
  • You can put ads on your NFT and get businesses to pay you for access to your writing audience.

The opportunities to make money from writing on Web 3.0 are endless once your articles are NFTs that sit on a blockchain.


Bringing it all together

Writing on Web 3.0 simply means using a blockchain-enabled platform like Bitclout or Mirror.xyz that is completely decentralized and owned by the users. You can join both platforms today and start writing to feel the freedom of what Web 3.0 has quietly created behind the scenes for us.

There will be more decentralized writing platforms built on top of Ethereum. NFTs are here to stay.

Learn about Web 3.0 as a writer so you can make money from your work and never work a normal job again if you choose.

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Writing

Ten Secrets Online Writers Desperately Don’t Want You to Know

Photo by Jose Gil on Unsplash

Writers are liars.

This is the advice I once read from writer Niklas Goke. It got me thinking, what do writers not want readers to know? Well, I spend a lot of time around other writers. The patterns are too obvious not to point out.

You will understand writing online when you understand how writers think.

We think about views way too much

Don’t think about the views.
Don’t think about the views.
Don’t think about the views.

That’s what we keep telling ourselves. When our views go down we don’t feel like writing as much. Even worse, if our views really tank we can end up becoming negative towards other writers.

Views are how we measure our reach. Views help us measure our impact. We want readers to listen even if we pretend like we don’t. We do.

We want to make money from our writing

Not because we’re Lambo-loving assholes trying to get rich or die trying.

Nope.

We want to make money from writing because we love writing.

It’s all we want to be doing. That’s why we try so hard to escape the office cubicle to enter the freedom of our home office full-time. That’s right: we don’t have fancy offices with barista-made coffee. At best we’ll make some money, and then buy a property far, far away so we can escape the noise of the city and write more.

Writing is what we live for. Money helps us pay bills so we can keep writing. No shame in that, is there?

We blame writing platforms a lot

“Why’d they change the algorithm mate? I was going great guns.”

Social media algorithms destroy writer’s lives. They determine whether readers do or don’t see our work based on a bunch of random factors. Or in the case of Facebook, to prioritize ads over content from writers so they can make money.

That’s right — writing platforms are businesses, not writer sanctuaries where we’re worshipped and brought cups of English Breakfast tea on our writing breaks.

We check our stats too much

Commmmmeeeee on … don’t pretend you don’t. We all do. Writers are addicted to stats. Stats are our way of procrastinating. Stats are how we ask ourselves, am I enough?

The funny part with stats is we try and make sense of them. We draw comparisons between certain datasets. We email other writers and be like, “Yo, did you notice the trend with articles that have the word billion in them?”

Stats are the scoreboard of the writer’s game. But hey, who’s counting? Not me. Never. *Nervously smiles*

We try and repeat our popular content

The funniest thing: we have one successful article and then repeat the format multiple times, hoping to tap into the original magic. The truth is, we struggle to repeat the magic of a viral article.

As much as we hate to admit it, it’s not the headline or the topic or the point of the story. Nope. Virality is random. It’s luck.

Maybe you published the story on a good day at the right time. Maybe the advice was timely based on random news events you can’t predict. Or maybe an influencer on social media shared your article with lots of people, without you knowing. Or maybe the google search gods decided to bless your beautifully round, silky smooth butt today with some traffic to your article.

After we wake up from virality, we remember fame is a nightmare. We go back into our little box and pretend not to be introverted more often than we’d like to admit.

We have really bad days

Multiple articles in a row that are ignored is all it can take. Or a family member can die and the last thing we want to do is write. Then there are those days when we think we’ve run out of ideas or got a mysterious case of writer’s block. Thank god for James Altucher and his “write ten ideas per day!”

We think everything is content

Breakup? Content.
Quit your job? Content.
Love your dog? Content.
Bad day at work? Content.
Parents hate you? Content.
Got in a car crash? Content
Suffering from a random illness? Content.
A person you want to date ghosts you? Content.
A stranger calls you a worthless c*nt? Content.

The thing is, creative brains are annoying as shit.

I love ’em, of course, but they cannot, will not, RELAX. There is always something to analyze, unravel, spin into a narrative, or picture in painfully vivid detail at 4 am.

Creative minds have no brakes.

— Emily Sinclair Montague

Comments can be hard to read

We pretend to be Mel Gibson in Braveheart when it comes to comments. The truth is we suck at reading comments.

Readers find our typos, they point out our flaws, they hurl random abuse (because they can), they question our view of the world, they tell us we’re liars, they present a link to a scientific article that rejects our claims and makes us look stupid.

Comments can be bad for our mental health. Most of us have days where we can’t stomach the comments. That’s okay.

Other writers mention us without naming us

The writer’s code we all sign up to is to *not* name other writers when we mention them. Except a few rebels who simply want to light their careers on fire because they’re bored.

But we do reference other writers by mentioning small details. Often these details will come from a recent article they wrote or a headline. Although we do this rarely. It’s not a daily habit, but writers do get to us sometimes and we feel it’s our duty to write about it.

To those who know the writer it’s obvious. To the average reader, they have no idea of the backhander we’re giving a writer who does something silly — like repeatedly spread writing that’s bad for our mental health and destroys our sense of hope after a difficult time in human history.

We don’t write a book soon enough

We write a lot of articles. We know we need to write a book and publish it on Amazon so we go beyond the blogger label. We know our best articles could easily be chapters in a book with the title relating back to the most popular title we write about. But we don’t do it. Why?

I sent a survey to more than 11,000 writers. Why don’t we write books sooner?

We feel we don’t have the time.

We’re so busy on the hamster wheel of writing articles that we think a book is too much work.

That’s until we learn we can write a book in 30 days. That’s until we realize that books are simply longer form blog posts. That books are a lot more disposable these days than our ego cares to admit. Then we finally dare to go to level two and publish a book.

We take too long to get serious with our email list

An email list is how we writers own our audience. When we own our audience no algorithm dictates whether readers see our work.

But building an email list isn’t easy. It takes time. We need a free eBook, course, or checklist we can give to readers in return for them giving us their email address. We get lazy too with sending emails to our subscribers. Or we put in very little effort and send subscribers our most-read article for the week, hoping they’ll love us for the convenience factor.

We feel terrible about unsubscribes

An email list keeps us accountable. If we dare try and sell anything to our email list — like a book — the number of unsubscribes spikes. We start losing readers left, right, and center that took us years to get.

We tell ourselves “see, this is what happens when I sell.” Or worse, we keep selling stuff with every email we send our readers and eventually kill off a large part of our audience, by letting our financial goals and dreams get in the way of giving readers free stuff to help them.

We get frustrated with publications

How dare they reject my work? we think to ourselves in the shower. We grow tired of submitting articles and having suggested edits be made.

We get pissed with editors who have huge egos and talk down to us.

Or that worship the elitist writing culture that used to exist before social media democratized writing and gave a voice to indie writers, who don’t have a byline in the New York times, and frankly, couldn’t give a f*ck about writing for the New York Times.

We want to say whatever we want

We want creative freedom. We don’t want to water down our headline or be told what topics we can write about. Occasionally we want to be a little controversial. Or tell a story that makes our heart bleed, without breaking some random editorial guideline that isn’t written anywhere and feels like stepping on a landmine.


These are the secrets I’ve learned from being an online writer and hanging around so many writers over the last seven years.

Can you relate? I bet you can.

Now writing isn’t so lonely. You know what all of us writers are thinking. You’re welcome. Now go write your little heart out because your words matter and the world needs your stories.

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Writing

These 16 Mistakes Caused My Writing to Painfully Plateau

Man and camel writing

Photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash


If you’ve written online for a while then you’ve most likely experienced the online writing plateau.

Yes, it’s real ladies and gentlemen, according to science (joking). I’ve danced with this devil. I’ve had those hard days where you find yourself checking stats instead of writing your goals into reality.

Here are the mistakes I made that led me to plateau as a writer.

Mistake #1 — Trying to be too smart with headlines

Headlines can become a circus. It’s easy to overthink them or pretend like they will save humanity from hunger. They’re important but you can overdo it.

The best headline creates a small curiosity gap and explains what the audience is about to read and can expect to get from your writing. The moment you start getting cute, like a writer for the New York Times and playing with puns, expect a plateau.

Readers hate gimmicks.

Mistake #2 — Writing about stuff I know jack sh*t about

My writing plateaus often happen when I veer too far from what I’ve studied and experienced in my life. If you don’t know anything about finance then don’t write about it. If you don’t own a single Bitcoin then please shut up about why Bitcoin will die.

I’m am 100% guilty of this.

Not knowing what you’re talking about is excruciating for a reader. Honesty with yourself gets you back on track.

Mistake #3 — Too much potty mouth

Writer Niklas Goke said something to me I’ll never forget:

“Using too many swear words makes you sound deeply angry.”

I don’t mind the odd F-bomb. I’m a wannabe rebellious millennial, too, you know. Too many swear words can affect your writing. Dial the use of swear words back if you start to sound like a drunk on a Saturday night hailing an Uber he ordered with his phone.

Mistake #4 — “50% of succeeding on Twitter is how you format your tweets”

Writer Nicolas Cole wrote this. When I’m plateauing I notice my attention for detail with formatting goes out the door.

Your content has to look like it’s appealing to read. Your content has to subtly signal “this will be easy to read.”

It’s easy to use too many pictures.
It’s easy to have giant blocks of text.
It’s easy to have a paragraph in between every sentence.
It’s easy to have too many subheadings, or not enough.
It’s easy to use far too many block quotes.
It’s easy to saturate content with links to sources.
It’s easy to cite every damn thing when it’s not required.

Don’t forget your formatting game if you find yourself plateauing. Ease of reading is a huge deal.

Mistake #5 — Too long. CBF reading.

Okay, so when I looked back on my plateaus there was a huge problem. I went from 4–7 minute reads, to 8–10 minute reads. My long pieces put readers to sleep. My ability to waffle the way my grandpa did before he died had taken over my writing. I simply tried to say too much.

Readers are time-poor.

A tweet requires a 30-second investment of time.
An article requires a 4+ minute investment of time.

If you think of reading like investing it’s easy. Would you invest loads of money in a writer you barely know or are still getting to know? Heck no.

A reader’s attention is the currency/money of the writing world. People are careful how they spend their money.

Mistake #6 — Too many metaphors

Drunk as a skunk.

High as a kite.

Metaphors remind readers of university. Who wants to go back there and do exams all over again? Not me.

Mistake #7 — Too many cliches

“Take a walk in the park and do five minutes of meditation.” This cliche advice kills a reader’s brain. They’ve heard it all before. The solution I found is to repackage cliches. You can still use them, but find a way to say them differently or for them to pack more energy.

Mistake #8 — Trying to be too funny

I’m not Jerry Seinfeld. If I get a mild laugh in the comments then I’ve done well. We’re not all born funny. The worst thing is trying too hard to be funny. Humor should naturally come out in your writing.

Mistake #9 — Not enough quality editing

Whatever article you write, cut out 20%.

For example, if your final draft is 1000 words, go through it one more time and find a way to delete 200 words. It’ll be difficult at first, but I promise this step will revitalize your writing instantly.
– Anthony Yeung

I’d forgotten to edit ruthlessly. I was too romantic about certain sections that clearly should have been chopped. It was easier to just publish and pray, and hope the lack of editing would be okay. It wasn’t. My writing became too long and wordy.

Mistake #10 — Not enough of me

I stopped adding myself into articles at certain points. This rubbed off the personal touch that built bonds with readers. Personal stories make readers go “I felt like that too.” That beautiful moment happens when it’s your story.

Mistake #11 — Too much of me

I went the other route too. I started at one point talking too much about myself. My silly little Aussie face ended up on one-too-many articles. My social media channels contained far too much “I”.

Mistake #12 — Painful subheadings (labels)

My subheadings became boring. They turned into labels. Readers that skim saw the labels and went “yep, heard it all before mate.” As writers it’s easy to spend lots of time on the headline and completely forget about the subheadings. Interesting subheadings can transform a dull piece of writing. Look at Sean Kernan’s work to get subheading inspiration.

Mistake #13 — Too many cryptic sentences

Acronyms. Industry speak. Again, trying to sound too smart. There was one point where I mistakenly took up the job of a writer working for an ad agency. I started using puns and getting words to rhyme.

Readers don’t want semantics. They simply want us to get to the point without all the Indiana Jones cryptic clues.

Mistake #14 — Too much celeb name-dropping in the headline

At another point I started thinking I lived in Hollywood next to Billie Eilish. Celeb names started to appear way too much. Quotes from celebs became my obsession, and the audience’s reason to click on another writer. Celebs are everywhere. Other writers are playing the same game that leads to nowhere and makes you look same-same. Readers love an escape.

Do a Michael Thompson. Take everyday people from your life and turn them into unconventional celebs readers can fall in love with. Writers share stories. Who says you can’t find your own characters to change things up?

Mistake #15 — Not enough twists and turns

At one stage I had the ability to take readers on a wild journey. You had no idea where you were going to end up. (Look at this story about money that’s not about money for a clear idea.)

Unpredictability is a superpower in writing.

Mistake #16 — No stories at the start

I used to often begin with short stories in my articles. Somewhere along the line I began to sound like a journalist reporting the predictable Australian weather. Stories are a differentiator.

Stories are a great way to introduce a topic. My writing came alive again when I added short stories back in. I sourced stories from books I was reading and events that happened in my life.

Killer tip: Topics that stop you from sleeping make great stories.


Once you’ve been writing for a while you’ll experience a plateau. Writers rarely talk about this phenomenon. Like social media, we want to pretend we’re always fine and going viral every day. The truth is we’re not.

Being a writer is a long journey to a faraway place that has no coordinates. Plateaus happen for writers. Only when I went back and analyzed my work did I see the problem: I’d become the writers I was reading every day instead of being myself.

Writing online is about going from plateau to plateau and not giving up.

Keep writing. Learn. Iterate. Write because you love it.

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Writing

What I Wish I Knew Before Becoming a Writer 7 Years Ago

Writing Life Lessons Better Marketing

Image Credit: Unsplash

Most writing tips make me vomit in my mouth, silently.

When I started out as a writer the advice was terrible. Getting started as a writer is even harder nowadays. The advice is mostly written by people who have published very little online. You can’t blame them.

Writing about writing has become a weird summer sport.

I’m not special. I’m definitely not a gifted writer. But I’ve written an awful lot online and had a few million readers over the journey, so at the very least I know some shortcuts you can steal. Let’s go.

You don’t need a blog

Sure, it’s nice to have but you don’t need one.

Owning a blog can be a giant money pit. The problem? Wherever you write online you need access to an audience. Owning a blog gives you zero access to an audience, and it’s a huge distraction.

You’ll end up tinkering with logos and sidebars for the rest of your life, the way wannabe Einstein inventors do with their never-released innovations. Or the way the next JK Smoling does with all of the books they write that they never dare submit to a publisher because they somehow think they’ll one day be chosen. James Altucher was right: “Choose yourself. “

Ditch the blog. Start writing on someone else’s website/app.

The SEO underworld isn’t for most writers

Writing with SEO in mind is robotic. You feel like you’re writing ads or producing content for an AI. You don’t need to worry about keywords. You know what beats keywords? Telling good stories.

Quality content will always leave SEO for dead.

Spread the holy news. (But shhh … don’t tell SEO expert Neil Patel I said that. I’m still trying to have coffee with him.)

Make your email list a priority

Email started in the 90s. Email defeated the fax machine and it’s still going. Grow your email list. How? Use simple software like ConvertKit to set up a landing page and link it to an email list.

Then all you do is write stuff online, add a one-sentence call to action at the bottom, and link it to your landing page. When a reader subscribes via your landing page you give them a free gift — either a free eBook or a free email course.

If you do this for long enough, you will build an email list and own your audience.

But make sure you go beyond email

Building an email list is cliche. Most writers know about it. This is why I wish I knew before about other ways to build a community around your writing.

Let’s face it: people get a lot of emails, and most of them aren’t worth clicking. Why? Most emails are designed to sell. People hate being sold to. Plus, a lot of us have email overwhelm. Managing email has become a full-time job.

So you’ve gotta go beyond email as a writer.

All you do is create a second channel. Instead of only adding people to an email list, you can add them to a community you create. The community is based around whatever you write about. For example, I write a lot about personal finance. I could set up a community in Slack for anybody who wants to stay in touch with me and learn more about personal finance. Why is a community you manage through an app powerful?

Simple: the open rate of direct messages is higher than emails.

There is a community of people in a group chat. There is nobody but you hiding in your email inbox. Human psychology says you are more likely to pick the communication channel where you find other people like you. Nobody wants to be alone. So build your audience with loneliness in mind. This will increase the engagement rate of your writing.

Explore your curiosity

It’s tempting to follow trends, or look at what’s viral, or be like everybody else. Instead, follow your curiosity. Turn each story your write into a research assignment. Make the assignments about a topic you want to know more about and share with others.

I do this all the time. If I want to learn something, I write about it. Once you write about a topic enough times, you naturally become an expert. It’s counter-intuitive and awesome at the same time.

Forget being good at grammar or spelling in the beginning

Most people don’t care.

The ones who do care are probably professional literary critics. You want to stay away from those weirdos anyway. Start with an app like Grammarly. Near enough is good enough. You can spit shine your writing later by brushing up on your grammar.

Perfect writing is boring

A few mistakes make your writing human.

In fact, don’t tell anyone, but I often purposely add a few mistakes to my writing to rough it up a little. Writer Derek Sivers says, “Rub your work of art in the dirt.” He explains how he got his friend’s musical work of art played on the radio against all odds back in the day.

We took each letter out to the backyard and rubbed it in dirt, then crumpled it up. Then we put the crumpled letter and CD into each black envelope, sealed it with an alien head sticker, and finally covered it with the huge label that said “Confidential! Do not open for any reason.” And that’s what we mailed to each radio station.

Act like you’re a teacher

Be the expert from day one. Don’t write “I think…”

Teachers are confident. They know what they’re teaching. They don’t second guess themselves. Writers are the ultimate form of teacher. As writers, we seek to move readers to action or inspire them to think differently. Readers won’t properly listen to you if you’re unsure of yourself.

There’s no need to doubt yourself. Your experiences and lessons are more than enough to qualify you as a writer. Give yourself permission to be confident, and your writing will reach a lot more people because of it.

When writing is your passion and you earn money from it, things can go bad

Many writers are dying to make money from their writing.

They’ll sell their soul and write a clickbait headline for a few bucks. They’ll copy every trend, formatting tip, and random advice from a failed writer on Youtube to touch those crispy dollar bills.

I was like that at the start. Making money from writing seemed like a good thing. Until I depended on writing to pay the registration on my piece of shit car made by Honda.

Money can change how you write. That’s why it pays to get good at writing without focusing too much on money. Quitting your day job to become a writer is terrible advice for most people.

Write because you like writing. Then write because you like helping people. Starting with money on the brain produces copy (“ads” also known as low-quality content), not writing.

Twitter is a great place to test headlines

I take popular highlights from my writing and post them on twitter. I then use the data I collect to help me write better headlines. If your headline sucks or sounds like everybody else’s, then your writing will flop, consistently.

There are already a lot of flops. Buck the trend.

A headline makes a reader want to read your story. Why would you randomly guess with a headline and play the lottery? Why not use data to predict what will help readers find your story and read it?

Over time, collect popular phrases from your writing. Those phrases make for the best headlines that will help your writing reach bigger audiences later on.

Good writing leaves you better than it found you

Good writing is uplifting. You feel better after reading the story than you did before. That’s what good writing does. It just leaves you 1% better.

Write to leave the reader slightly better than you found them, and you’ll do extremely well as a writer.

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Writing

99% of Writers Will Give Up Writing Before 5 Years Is Up

Writing by Tim Denning.

Photo by Surface on Unsplash

Most writers I admired seven years ago have quit.

Less than 1% of my writing inspirations are still writing. This is a sad fact. They’re not stupid. I’m not better than them. They simply gave up.

Writing is a high friction pursuit. When something is high friction it takes away your energy and your willpower. When one of those scarce resources is depleted you give up writing.

The typical day of a writer

You wake up. You eat breakfast. You procrastinate. You watch too much Youtube and call it research. You post a lot of unnecessary stuff on social media and call it marketing. You pay some bills and call it “the business side of writing.” You think you’re about to start writing.

Then you get distracted again. Your browser tabs play havoc with your ability to focus. They always have another delicious idea ready to tempt you. You try over and over to write.

You end up looking at other writers and notice their progress. Why isn’t your progress as good as theirs? Why can’t you write a witty headline like them? Let’s say you survive all of this and actually write something.

Then you’ve got to live with what you wrote.

You doubt what you wrote. Then it’s time to edit and you have to revisit your writing. You feel stupid, or as though something is missing while you edit. The editing is done. Now it’s time to choose images. A good image is hard to find. It takes time.

Cutting corners and choosing a stock image of a guy in a suit doing a cliche pose and pretending to be happy is pissing on your Picasso. You can’t do it to yourself. So you waste insane amounts of time finding the right image. You finally find one and tell yourself “I can always change it later.” The next part is where writers lose their minds.

The online writing world is a series of gatekeepers. The mission written on their editing wall is one word: quality. They serve quality. In doing so, they have to accept or reject you. Some days they will like your work. Some days you’ll be the flavor of the month. Some days your writing will go so freaking viral you won’t recognize your own name as the author. You’ll smile at yourself, and perhaps, stand a little taller. You’ll even buy yourself a gelato to celebrate.

Then there are the bad days. When you submit ten stories in a row and they all get rejected without any feedback. Or when you submit a timely article and your friend who is also a writer covers the same subject and beats you to it, meaning your article is declined and theirs is accepted.

Rejection hurts no matter how many times it happens.

Then there are the days when the social media platform you write on does a subtle update. At first it seems like no big deal. Then your stats start falling off a cliff. You’re getting 500-view days again. What the hell?

The writer self-talk sounds like this:“You’ve been doing this way too long. You’re too good for a measly 500 views.” You feel frustrated. Trying to write frustrated feels as though a psycho burned off all your fingers, and all that is left are the stubs of your arms that push down multiple keys at a time for every keystroke.

Next comes feedback. You can choose to have your face ripped off by the comments section full of people who are clearly smarter than you. Or you can choose to read your email, where strangers send you thoughtful and unthoughtful messages. Some emails are long. Some emails are so short you read them ten times and still can’t work out the question. Other emails are a “what evs” and you delete them without a reply.

There are the pitches too. Random companies or PR agencies will kindly send you unsolicited emails every day requesting you to write about a purely self-serving topic. Their ask is wrapped in the promise of a good idea, but your ideas folder is already overflowing. Email takes a lot of your time and so does social media. Sometimes the point of all the communication can become lost.

You’re social.

But you’re a writer, which makes you a hermit crab on your best day.

Luckily, you close your computer. You head to the couch for Netflix decompression. You come back the next day. A blank screen full of white space stares right back at you. It’s you and the blank space again. You can fight her, or succumb to her power.

Whatever happens, it’s going to be hard.

This is why writers give up

As you can see writers have a lot to contend with. The failure rate of writers is high because the ask, and cognitive load, are enormous.

  • Writing is hard work.
  • You can expect results far too soon. You can want to be Ryan Holiday within a year.
  • You likely have another source of income to pay bills so you can’t write every waking minute. The balancing act is tough.
  • Your idea muscle gets worn out.
  • Getting rejected by editors and publications can be exhausting.
  • It’s easy to collect enemies who hunt down opinions to murder.
  • You’ll question yourself. You’ll feel inadequate.
  • Your boss or family could get pissed at something you wrote.
  • Social media is a full-time job.
  • You can’t answer every email. Emails take a lot of time.
  • There is no clear blueprint to follow. You write or you don’t write.
  • Falling for the viral mumbo jumbo is easy.
  • Comparing yourself to other writers destroys your self-worth.
  • It’s easier not to write than write.

I believe it’s natural to give up as a writer — it’s the obvious choice. But when you don’t give up, your entire life changes. Succumbing to the power of writing can change everything.

Writing allows you to create tiny ripple effects in the world. Writing is therapy. Writing is how you think. Writing lets you see your thoughts so you can challenge them.

Writing is hard but it’s meaningful. Writing is how you leave a few bread crumbs behind before you exit earth.

This is how to be part of the 1% of writers who keep going

  • Write what you want to write. Choose topics you’re genuinely curious about.
  • Pretend nobody is watching. Most people won’t read 90% of what you write, so dance with the devil.
  • Adapt and try new platforms. Maybe newsletters will work better for you. Maybe a career platform such as LinkedIn is a better home for your content.
  • Write to be helpful. Self-serving content is exhausting to read and will burn your audience quickly.
  • Get comfortable not replying to every comment or message. Nobody expects you to show up every time. Your writing has more value than responding to comments or messages.
  • Build an offline audience (Slack community or an email list). Owning your audience is massively underrated. An audience you own is an audience you can speak to using your own editorial standards. If everything you write has to follow someone’s rules you’ll eventually give up.
  • Do your best. It’s hard to write online. Expect bad days and they’ll affect you a lot less than expecting continuous home runs.
  • Don’t be on every platform. There are so many places to write, and writing on all of them will wear you out. Pick two places to publish regularly and focus on your writing. Platform-following and chasing trends like Clubhouse will eventually make you give up.
  • Take breaks. 20-minute breaks on a day you write can help replenish your energy. Taking entire days off every week can give your creative mind a rest. Taking entire weeks off every year can help remind you why you write in the first place. Travel gives you experiences you can write about, too.
  • Focus on the audience. Talk to them. Know them better than you know yourself. Ask them questions. Reply to their messages occasionally. You serve the audience — they don’t serve you.
  • Take feedback lightly. Simply say thanks to a negative comment or email. A reader’s opinion isn’t fact. They’re entitled to express themselves and you’re entitled disagree with them quietly.
  • Build a support network of other writers. These writers can help you edit your story, give you feedback, and share their journey so yours doesn’t feel as lonely.
  • Invest some of the money you earn as a writer so you can work less if you choose. If you are forced to always write to earn money then you’ll get stuck on the hamster wheel. You can work less or write less when you invest your money in real assets. These assets grow in value, as your writing grows in value, over time. The compound effect helps give you the energy to persist with your writing habit.
  • Be humble. If you write to please your ego you will eventually give up.

5 years is the magic number

It took me 5 years to make my writing goals come true. Many of the writers I interact with have found a similar number to be the tipping point. 5 years equals 10,000 hours of writing.

5 years of writing helps you hone your voice, get used to rejection, create a support network of writers, build an offline and online audience, discover which platform works best for you, find ways to help an audience, and learn what you enjoy writing.

If you can write for five years straight, then you can achieve the heights of the writing world. Don’t give up writing before it’s your time to shine.

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Writing

A Writer Is Only as Interesting as Their Life

Tim Denning News Break

Photo by Marcos Prado on Unsplash

There’s a lot of boring writing out there. I’m sure you’ve read it.

Dry, lifeless points thrown into a listicle and sealed with an overused, trending headline designed to make the writer go viral. What makes for boring writer is when the writer is boring.

Writer Isaiah McCall reminded me of a quote from the book “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up: The Complete Guide to Writing Creative Nonfiction.” The author explains “a writer is only as interesting as his life.”

Isaiah took the advice to heart. He interpreted what the author was saying to mean “have more experiences” to be a more interesting writer readers want to devour the words of over a bottle of red wine.

He joined the army for six months, became an ultramarathoner, began a career in standup comedy, and started writing for well-known publication, USA Today.

Those experiences are bound to make what he writes about more interesting. It explains a lot of his recent success as a blogger. He’s intentionally become more interesting. You have the same opportunity as a writer.

The missing component

What’s missing from a lot of writer’s work is a personal touch. They write a rushed intro that doesn’t grab the reader’s attention and then get straight into slapping the reader over the face with advice.

Context is crucial in writing. You’ve got to set the scene a little. Give some background. Explain your philosophy.

Add this sizzle to your intro

One of my favorite things to do in the intro is to define a key term. For example, if I write about being financially free then I define the term upfront.

Every term has a different meaning to the writer using it. The biggest argument I see in the comments sections of many blog posts is over terms. You can provide readers clarity when you define what you mean. If you say I can be retired by listening to what you have to say, what does that look like amigo?

Is the version of retirement you’re talking about involve Lambos? Are we talking private jets too? Or is it a small house in the woods that you can construct from materials you buy from Walmart? Does Ikea furniture cut it or are we talking primo leather couches with coasters to place your champers glass on?

Can I wear my undies while sitting on the couch or is this more of a Vanity Fair style retirement with photographers and the candy colors of the rainbow as background? Do I need to donate money to a good ol’ fashion Nelson Mandela endorsed cause or can I just gift a Ferrari to the nearest 21 year old in the street who is seeking a one night stand and qualify as worthy for this version of meaningful retirement?

Pro writing tip

You can create your own terms. People love it when you come up with a term. It helps people identify with what you’re saying.

A now-infamous Reddit User, Ryan, blew up online when he came up with the term “Zero Days.” He built a catchphrase off the term that went like this: No more Zero Days. It was unconventional motivation. It was a term he coined off his own personal experience.

A zero day is when you don’t do a single f*cking thing towards whatever dream or goal or want or whatever that you got going on. No more zeros….promise yourself, that the new SYSTEM you live in is a NON-ZERO system. Didn’t do anything all fucking day and it’s 11:58 PM? Write one sentence. One pushup. Read one page of that chapter. One. Because one is non zero.

You can create your own terms. Make them so simple, anybody can relate, and drop your newly created term into a tweet or a blog post of their own.

Experiment to become more interesting

I wasn’t born interesting. My career was crazy boring when it started in a call center. Maybe you can relate? The good news is you can use mini-experiments to become more interesting. Here are a few of mine you can steal:

  • Go to strange meetups with odd themes.
  • Read about weird topics — like the supernatural, higher states of consciousness, flow states, strange events in history.
  • Commit small acts of kindness. Notice how you feel.
  • Reach out to people you don’t know. Spend a bit of time researching them and then use what you’ve learned to see if you can have a 30-minute video chat with them.
  • Take several odd jobs in the space of a year.
  • Volunteer at a homeless shelter. See the brokenness.
  • Write down interesting conversations you witness.

If your writing isn’t being read. If you feel your writing is boring. If you find yourself staring at empty stats. The answer is to make yourself more interesting rather than get lost in chasing empty writing hacks — like headlines, virality, styles, or trends.

Do things that make you incredibly emotional

What makes writing boring is a lack of emotion.

Readers want to feel what you have to say, not only read your words. When we feel what you’re writing we can absorb it. You subconsciously ignore information that makes you feel nothing.

Emotion acts like a bookmark in your brain. You remember the emotion and then the writing attached to that emotion.

I remember reading a blog post with the cheesy title “How To Lose Weight In 4 Easy Steps” by Aaron Bleyaert. I have never been fat. (My look is more like a skinny version of the infamous green character Gumby.) I read Aaron’s post on weight loss and found myself sobbing like a child. It wasn’t a blog post about losing weight at all. It was a love story. It was the story of seeing the person you love move on, while you’re still stuck in the past loving them.

I was going through something similar when I read it. His words pierced my heart. As soon as I think of the headline for Aaron’s story I get emotional. That’s how powerful emotion is for memory recall.

You, too, can be Aaron. You can inject emotion into your writing. How? Simple. Ask yourself “how does this idea make me feel?” If you’re writing about playing tennis, then how does it make you feel?

If you’re writing about losing your job, then how did it make you feel on the day? If you’re writing about your friend that passed away from stage 4 cancer, then how did it make you feel to send them a message on Facebook, realize they were dead, and attend their Youtube funeral because of a pandemic?

Your writing isn’t intriguing unless people can feel what you’re saying. Too many writers prioritize quotes, facts, and throwing advice at readers. Instead, add the missing ingredient of emotion.

The beauty is in the tiny details

I am guilty of this one. My most boring pieces all go straight to big concepts that lack detail. You may skip over the tiny details to keep your writing concise. Don’t.

The tiny details help people relate to you and the humans you’re writing about. I tell people I’m Aussie for this reason. The Australian way of looking at things is laidback. “She’ll be right” is our country’s motto. It takes a lot to make us outraged. You can throw stones at our parliament building. It will take more than that to get our tanned buttocks off Bondi Beach, over to our phones, and logged on to Twitter to express disgust. Nature is just too good to take everything so seriously.

This tiny detail helps you understand where I’m coming from. You can do the same. You can reference your hobbies, what stage of life you’re in, your age, what you do for a living, odd quirks about yourself, or even the car you drive as a way to reference your beliefs about material metal objects.

Tell us the micro so we understand the macro.

Add energy before your writing session

Your writing reflects the level of energy you were in when you wrote the words. When you’re in a lifeless state your writing feels boring. A simple way to lift the energy of your writing is to change your state.

Do a workout before you write. Drink coffee to wake you up. Have a nap if you feel tired, then write. Watch a video on Youtube that makes you feel alive with energy. I often watch music videos of my favorite singers to energize me before sitting down to write. Why couldn’t you?

Everything in this world is either adding to your energy or taking it away. Add energy to make your writing more interesting.

You are more interesting than you think

I get writers tell me this all the time: “But sir, I’m not interesting enough.” Yes you are. You’re more interesting than you think. The trick is to document the interesting stuff you easily forget. When I drill into writers who give me this excuse they quickly see they are interesting.

Writer Tom Kuegler said readers buy your view of the world. I agree. How you see the world is beautiful. Describe it to us so we can enter your mind and witness another dimension. It’s easy for readers to feel trapped right now with all the crazy stuff going on in the world. Your writing has the ability to set readers free from what holds them back, and teleport into your world for a bit, thus giving them incredible value.

Share your world as an escape for readers.

Takeaway

Boring writing lacks emotion, context, the definition of terms, tiny details and energy. Add each of these components to make your writing interesting. Then, make your life a tiny bit more interesting by conducting mini-experiments. Become an Uber driver for a few hours. Or do what Isaiah did and try your hand at standup comedy.

The answer isn’t to make more money or to improve your writing stats or to dance around complaining about a writing platform. If your writing sucks (and you know it) then intentionally make your life interesting again.

Interesting writing is found at the intersection of YOU, your view of the world, and the experiments you conduct.

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