Every once in a while, I have the privilege to answer the question: “Why do you do what you do?”
When I hear it, it hits me off guard. What I do is so ingrained in the fiber of who I am and what I value that, despite being grossly introspective, I rarely ever consider “why?”
But whenever I get to thinking, I always find the same answer at the tip of my tongue: how could I not?
When asked about whether or not there was a point, before his brand blew up, that he wanted to give up, Bobby Kim replied:
“It’s always hard, and it doesn’t necessarily get easier. But, we never imagined giving up. We did have another option. If you have a way out, take it. Only do this because you can’t not.“
To be fair, I do a lot of things:
I read books.
I film and edit videos for YouTube.
I listen to Run the Jewels with the windows open in my suburban neighborhood.
I put out a newsletter about SEO.
However, all of these things fall under the umbrella of creation. For me, the deepest form of creation stems from my burning urge to write and create.
If I were to try and force myself not to write, I know exactly what would happen. My ability to add to this world would be stunted. In terms of creation, I would have very little left to give. My existence would merge with a dystopian house of horrors, one where I lose touch with the part of me that I love the most.
Frankly, I don’t know what I’d be without it.
You know what? Thankfully, I’ll never need to live in that dystopia. As a writer, I have the drive in place to cultivate the habit that adds the most to my life, a habit I encourage anyone to pick up if they are searching for meaning. It works for me.
If you’re interested in cultivating freelance writing, creative writing or blogging but need a pinch of motivation, look no further. These daily writing tips got me on the right track and keep me going to this day.
Don’t Do It Because You Can. Do It Because You Can’t Not.
Bobby Kim, co-founder of the legendary streetwear brand The Hundreds, once tweeted something that has kept me going ever since I read it.
When asked by a user how he kept pushing his brand forward before it blew up, he replied: “It’s always hard, and it doesn’t necessarily get easier. But we never imagined giving up. We didn’t have another option. If you have a way out, take it. Only do this because you can’t not.”
Maybe that’s not what you expected me to say. Maybe you thought I would hit you with the trite “fake it until you make it.”
But no…if you think you can walk away from a pursuit unscathed, you probably should.
Nothing is inherently required to be happy. However, once you cultivate a passion, you might just reach a point where if you were to live a life without it, you’d feel empty.
To truly commit yourself to success, you need to work your way towards that mindset. You don’t need to write to feel whole but if you work until you do, that need will drive you forward.
You Have Something to Say
Bestselling author Ryan Holiday views writing as more of a therapeutic tool with a very specific purpose: to release all the things inside him.
To do so, of course, requires something within you that needs to be released; some message, idea or opinion for your reader. In other words, you need something to say.
“Think about it one more time,” Holiday says. “Is it that you want to be a writer? Or is it that you have this thing inside you that you want very badly to communicate to people and that writing in the best way to do it?”
It’s a simple question, but the answer might take some soul-searching. Even if you don’t think you have something to say, you probably do. Whether things happen to you or you make things happen, you feel some type of way about it all.
It’s rare to find a person without a story to share. What’s more common is to find someone who isn’t able to articulate their story…at least not yet. Find that story within you and then figure out a way to share it with everyone else.
If you haven’t found what you want to say yet, take a look at some writing prompts. Writing about any topic will increase your writing skills. Genuine passion will emerge soon after.
You can’t accomplish anything without ambition. But just like any potion, ambition casts a dangerous spell if you sip it too much.
We live in the age of distraction. Once you muster up the motivation to do something, it can be tempting to throw yourself in all sorts of directions.
As for writing, you might be thinking “I’ll write a blog post every day! I’ll write a weekly newsletter…screw it, I might even write a book!” Please hold your horses. For your own sake.
The more things you start, the less likely you are to finish any of them. Just because you have energy, doesn’t mean you need to channel it into everything you can.
One of my favorite bloggers and writers, Cait Flanders, only published one article per month. At first, this astonished me. But after thinking about it, I realized that the beauty of her writing lies in her exhaustive precision, her ability to do whatever she writes about justice, to treat every topic like it’s her last.
Doing that requires care and restraint. Don’t overcommit. Instead, start small and see where it takes you.
Don’t Succumb to Writer’s Block
If you have something to say, nothing should stop you from saying it.
However, the phenomenon of writer’s block is a barrier for anyone trying to kick-start the habit. That’s okay! Just keep writing, and it will come.
Once you get into the habit of writing, the content will come with it. However, you can’t force inspiration. Keep an eye out every day for ideas. Watch a webinar, read a short story, follow interesting people on social media, listen to a podcast. As long as these practices don’t take too much away from your writing time, they will help your creative juices flow.
The Decision to Write is Half the Battle
You have to be it now, to have it later.
You are fit before you ever gain muscle. You are rich before you ever earn money. Doesn’t make sense? Ask anyone who ever accomplished anything. They will tell you that they made the decision way before they started seeing results.
Think about what you want in the future and decide to go and get it now. Yes, it will take some time. No, you won’t be instantly rewarded. However, after you set your mind to something, all it takes is a commitment to see it through. Make the deal with yourself now. To up the stakes, tell someone close to you about your mission. That will make it more embarrassing if you break your promise.
I aspire to write because it completes me. Self-publishing written content requires you to hold yourself accountable. I needed to know what I was committing to, set out a reasonable path to success and make it hard to imagine my life without writing. Otherwise, I’d probably be caught in the rut I was in before.
Set the same standard for yourself. You deserve it. Today’s a great day to get to work.
Author’s Note: My Daily Writing Habit
This article was first created as I was starting my own writing habit, as a therapeutic effort to pull myself out of a really dark place.
BJ Fogg, a behavioral psychology and founder of the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab has said that to build a large habit, you can find early success by starting with a habit so small that it’d be silly not to do.
Instead of “flossing my teeth every day,” start with “floss one tooth.”
This is echoed by Tim Ferris in the 4-Hour Chef where he discusses the importance of early wins when learning a new skill. Having that initial momentum is key to fueling yourself past the initial novelty phase of something new.
After reading Cait Flanders blog, mentioned above, I felt encouraged that I could pull my the best of my (not so) weekly newsletter and other learnings into one article per month and do it the best that I could.
While writing wasn’t new to me, writing on this website might as well have been. I’d been so busy writing for my clients (and myself, elsewhere on the internet) that I often forgot to write here, averaging one article per year from 2016-2018.
So the goal was to start writing again. Not just for SEO, but because I can’t NOT write.*
*Okay, a little bit for SEO. I can’t not do SEO research on my writing at this point in my life.
Quotes Worth Sharing:
“Talent is almost always a word meaning “I didn’t realize you get up at 4am to do this.”
“You have a thousand bad drawings in you. The sooner you get them out, the better.”