#51: Writing In Public, Thinking About Thinking & More Insights on Launching a Newsletter Platform
Ending 2022 with a newsletter appreciation post. Good stuff!
Evolving as writer is a steep goal to have. It is not easy nor painless. Squeezing every part of your brain, every bits and pieces of mental energy until it hurts is never fun. It’s exhausting work.
But I am strangely drawn to it. I’m addicted, it is my high. I love it. For as long as I can remember, I’ve lived for it (even before I knew what the word ‘passion’ even means).
What changed recently is that I took the first big step of finally committing to it, instead of continuously hiding and subjecting myself to unnecessary shame (‘I am not good enough’, ‘I am not smart enough’). When the time is right, people can make things happen, or at least stir themselves into the direction of that change.
I am a living proof of this.
And this newsletter is a manifestation of that commitment. I take a lot of pride in it. I’ve learned (and am still learning!) a lot from it. This is a post about what I’ve learned so far from this process. The grueling and fun and messy process of newsletter creation. I am not kidding when I said that this is quite possibly one of the most satisfying work I’ve done in my career (& I’ve had a lot of those).
The thing is, finding one’s voice is just the first part. The harder part is retaining it, growing it and shaping it to be the best it could ever be. By ‘best’, I mean it has to have clarity, integrity, relevance and perspective, among many others.
In today’s landscape, there are a myriad of ways and platforms to practice this craft. Perhaps, the easiest and the most accessible would be through a newsletter. At least, this was my thinking. Here’s a short summary of what I’ve learned so far…
The (3) big things I’ve learned since launching this newsletter:
How to be comfortable writing in public
There’s a certain level of anxiety that comes with putting yourself out there. I’ve never been great at it. The mental barrier comes with the activity, I think. It is quite healthy if harnessed properly and used at an advantage. Writing in public exposes your brain to a greater audience. If you are anything like me, it is almost impossible not to be insecure and proud at the same time. It’s a dance I was reluctant to participate in but the minute I did, I had such an adrenaline rush. In spite of the negatives, I want to keep doing this, over and over and over again. Some other perks to writing in public:
Meet and connect with likeminded, really interesting individuals
Develop and strengthen new & old professional relationships
Improve my social skills as an introvert
Gain confidence (lots of confidence!) with my voice
Sharpen & test the clarity of my thinking (quality of work increases the minute you force yourself to test it out in public)
My favorite path lately: write short insights on Linkedin → turn select insights into long form posts. (I have no Twitter. Although I miss it so, the cons still outweigh the pros on going back to it.)
Some of my favorites from Linkedin:
Write in public. It’s an incredible learning exercise. You’ll never know who is reading your work.
How to push myself to think deeper and wider at the same time
Writing itself is a practice and an application of thinking. It is one of the best ways to find one’s flow. It is also a tool that can be used to sharpen one’s brain. In order to write well, one has to think well. Otherwise, the quality suffers. By establishing a platform of my own, I essentially forced my brain to be a lot better. That means:
Having a system for consuming better content. See:
Carving multiple niches of my own
Creating a more disciplined approach to writing / content creation, in general
Reading more and following my own curiosities. See:
Why? Because my name is on this. I am putting my signature here, with every post. It’s my job to not waste anybody’s time with the attention I’m given by writing well, doing things right and hopefully changing a mind or two about how they see a part of the world.
At least, I could try. In the grand scheme of things, isn’t that the point? The minute I stop trying, I know it’s probably too late already.
By the way, I share the same view on this as the guys from Category Pirates. They’ve been such a huge influence to my work lately. “Thinking about thinking is the most important kind of thinking.”
How to effectively document and store a repository of my selected ideas
This is an obvious side-effect to writing online, specifically with public blogs and newsletter. Writers are idea-driven people. For most of us, there is no shortage of it. For me personally, one of the blindspots to my process has always been managing ideas as opposed to getting or acquiring more of them. I have way more ideas in my head (and google docs!) than I know what to do with. Having a platform allows me to create a filter on them. The constraint (‘which ideas to develop while maintaining consistency’) forced me to focus on those that are worth it. To determine what that is, I usually ask myself the following questions:
Is the idea coming from a personal pain point? Or from others?
Do I know enough about the topic? Do I care enough to invest some time into the research for it?
Can I explain this to a kid and/or an older person in a way they would understand?
It is fun? For myself? For anyone?
Can I test out my competence with it through open discussions about my thoughts about it?
Hypothetically, how would the end reader feel upon reading it? Is it worth their time? Have I given them something new to think about? Or is it just an echo of what other people are already sharing / writing?
Why do I want this out? What purpose do I have for doing the work that I am doing?
For the binary items, if the answer is mostly yes, then I usually go for it. Right now, I can happily say I’m so darn proud of all the posts I’ve written on this platform. 50+ and counting. No regrets for any of them…just maybe some edits.
Best part about this is having this feeling like you are leaving behind a legacy. It feels cathartic, at times, really. Creating a thing from scratch, iterating it based on a combination of reader feedback and personal intuition and showing it to people to spark a conversation? You can’t put a price on that. It is a priceless intellectual asset.
Is there a better way to harness all that the internet has to offer than this?**
** Value-filled content creation, in general. Not just newsletters
Fairly short reads that are worth your time:
Why investing in art and creativity is crucial in today’s economy from Entrepreneur Magazine
Podcast episode I’ve enjoyed thoroughly:
How Dan Koe Built A Successful One-Person Business From Scratch Writing Online from the Digital Writing Podcast
I’ve been following Dan on Instagram for over a year now and I’m impressed with his content. His approach to the business of content creation is commendable. It is filled with high level insights and strategies supported by practical tactics and practices. It’s evergreen and succinct and well-done in every way. Would recommend his stuff.
Thank you so much for reading,
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