What I Learnt From Writing Over 500 Articles in Two Years
Writing takes time to master
Since I joined Medium towards the tail end of 2017, I have written over 500 posts on the platform.
That is a lot of writing!
The funny thing is I never intended for things to turn out this way. My plan at the time was to use Medium as an alternative to my main blog. I was going to write articles that explore travelling from a different angle and might be suitable for a travel blog.
Well, that didn’t last very long. My first article on Medium focused on ways to make a difference when travelling. It’s not the best article I’ve ever written, but I leave it to remind myself how far I’ve come.
Since that first article on Medium, I deviated away from my original plan. I realised I had a lot more to write about than just travel. I had a lot of ideas floating around my head that I needed to release.
It was a spur of the moment decision to start writing on Medium, but I’m glad I did. Writing here every day has solidified my writing habit and made me love the craft even more.
I thoroughly enjoy writing articles and I’m blessed that I get to do it as my full-time job. After working in an underwhelming job in an office, it’s a dream come true.
Here are a few lessons I have learnt from writing over 500 articles in just over two years.
If You Show Up Every Day, You’ll Succeed
Something I learnt early on was that if I didn’t write every day, I found it easier to justify not writing. At the start, I was nowhere near as committed as I am now.
I would write two or three pieces a week and leave it at that. Sometimes, I’d write one week, if I could find a convenient excuse.
Once I start working in an office and dealing with silly emails about productivity and targets, I realised I needed to get serious with my writing or I’d be reading those emails for a long time.
Now I aim to write a post every day, as well as write and maintain my travel blog. It’s a lot of work, but as I’m self-employed, I have the time to do it.
What I found was that if I set myself the goal of writing a post a day for a year, I would write those posts. I didn’t want to break the streak. I had a lot of days where I couldn’t be bothered to write anything, but I forced to carry on.
If you want to be a writer, you have to write. There is no getting around this. The best way to do that is to show up every day and publish something.
It’s a long and tortuous process, but you’ll hone your skills over time and come up with better and better pieces the more you stick to it.
The more writing develops into a habit, the more success you’ll have.
You Come Up With Ideas In Strange Places
In the beginning, I wasn’t short of ideas. They were just waiting to be written down. I had a lot of experience to drawn upon and there were several topics I was interested in that provided material.
The longer I went on though, the shallower my bucket of ideas became. It was nothing to worry about, just a natural consequence of using my initial ideas.
It was at this point that I started to have ideas in the strangest of places. While I was taking a shower my mind would wander and I’d come up with an idea.
If I went for a walk, after a few minutes, my mind would snap into gear and I would come up with an idea. Whenever I wasn’t thinking about writing, my mind would suddenly present me with an idea to write about.
It got to the stage where I started taking notes on my phone so that I didn’t lose the ideas!
Maybe it’s the fact you’re not concentrating or writing, or maybe it’s because you’re doing something else, but ideas pop into your head when you least expect it.
Take a break from writing for a few hours if you’re feeling low on inspiration, and you’ll slowly regain it!
Your Only Competition Is Yourself
On a platform like Medium, it’s easy to get carried away and compare yourself to other writers. It’s only natural, we love to compare ourselves to others.
But there is a problem with this. Whether you realise it or not, you’re pitting yourself against them. You’re measuring yourself against others, and most of the time, it’s not an equal contest.
There are a lot of variables that make invalidate comparisons. You may have started at different times, you may write different topics and you may have differing levels of expertise on a topic.
The comparison is never going to be equal no matter what metric you use. Of course, it’s fine to take inspiration from writers. I do this all the time.
But, you have to be careful that the inspiration does not turn into comparison or even an obsession. Each of us here is on our own journey. There are many reasons why someone gets more claps or has more followers.
These are things that are not worth worrying about. They are out of your control.
The best thing you can do is to focus on what you can control and that is yourself and the content you put out. Focus on this and you will notice improvements in a short space of time.
Read To Succeed
Reading is one of my favourite activities. I have been reading for as long as I can remember. It was a love of reading that inspired me to start writing.
For me, the two are interlinked. They feed and complement each other.
There is so much we don’t know, one person can’t know everything. No has all the answers. This is why there are so many articles on similar topics. There is rarely one definitive answer.
Everyone has a unique perspective that only they can provide. Reading is similar. I may interpret a book differently to someone else. We may read the same pages but come to very different conclusions.
This is why it’s so important to read. You may think you know all there is to know on a subject, or you be intimidated by a topic and neglect to earn more about it. Books are a great way to challenge your beliefs and learn something new.
Inspiration can come anywhere and if you want to improve as a writer, what better way than to read some of the finest writers that ever lived and see what worked for them.
Stephen King said it best:
“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.”
Reading is essential if you want to develop and flourish as a writer.
You Won’t Run Out of Ideas
As I mentioned above, you’ll start with so many ideas you’ll wonder whether you can write them all down. Then, the ideas begin to grind to a halt.
This has happened a few times to me now and the first time it happened, I started to panic.
Is this it, have I run out of ideas?
I’m not sure I’ll come up with an idea any time soon?
Maybe I should focus on my blog from now on?
These were all thoughts that ran through my mind. It was disconcerting, but eventually, the ideas started to come back. It’s normal to go through peaks and troughs, no one is a content producing machine all of the time.
At some point, you will start to run low on ideas. It’s inevitable. When this happens, take a step back and reflect.
Go for a walk, distract yourself, read a book, the ideas will start to come back. There are so many things you can write about, there is no need to fret over a few days where you’re running low on ideas.