Why you should create — even though there’s already far too much in the world already.
Six years ago, when Medium was first starting out, it was invite-only and was created by one of the founder’s of Twitter to simply publish thoughts longer than the then-limit of 140 characters. Oh, how so much has changed — and so quickly.
Medium has now grown into momentous platform that allows anybody to share their story freely and easily. The growth in such a small amount of time is absurd — but Medium is just the tip of the social media revolution iceberg.
Twitter itself was founded eleven years ago. If we go back further, to thirteen years ago, YouTube was founded. A year before that, Facebook. This was coupled with the exponential development of hardware, which now allows anybody to utilize these platforms within seconds from the palm of their hand.
Organizing & Boosting Your Written Content with a Purpose-driven Schedule
Summary: As a freelance writer, it can be easy to think only in the short-term — Start utilizing a calendar the way big-name publishers do in order to consistently produce high-quality content for a more engaged audience!
Introduction: The Reason for Using a Calendar
When you want to get serious about writing and creating content, one of the more important principles to both sustaining quality and readership is consistency.
Loyalty from an audience comes from consistently publishing high-quality content, with the sheer amount of information available, it can be easy to lose readership when you lack proper planning and scheduling.
When you’re creating anything, it can feel daunting to try to go from an initial idea to a finished product. We think we have these fantastic ideas for things in our work or personal life, but they suddenly become vague and murky when we sit down and try to actually hash them out on paper.
In my previous post, I wrote about the difficulties in trying to find a balance between creating and planning. In this article, I’ll discuss how to make a more fluid transition between planning and creating. In other words, doing both simultaneously.
Craftship is a termed for the creative work done by someone who practices a trade or handicraft — it is the act of doing. This is exactly what this workflow is about: taking action instead of contemplating taking action.
This workflow is heavily inspired by the UX design lifestyle, as well as agile management, but has been adapted for personal use and general creativity.
Before anything, figure out a problem that needs to be solved, or a question that needs to be answered. This doesn’t need to be groundbreaking — it can already have a solution or an answer, instead, try to focus on alternative ideas. Create a hypothesis to solve it and start brainstorming.
Allow yourself to open up when brainstorming, don’t stop yourself from writing anything down, no matter how silly it might seem. Research and study. Look at interesting and obscure books and articles. Try to look at the issue from a completely different point of view.
Start jotting down ideas, try to connect similar ones together. Digital platforms are a great way to coordinate concepts and objectives. Using microblogging platforms like Twitter to write out these ideas is a great idea, whether publicly for receiving feedback, or privately just to have a collection. Utilise #tags or a good search function for organisation.
Don’t go overboard with this, stick to one objective or concept. Trying to execute too many ideas at once will cause you to ultimately not fulfill any properly at all. When you come across a new and exciting train of thought, separate it into it’s own entity. Don’t wait until what you have developed is perfect in any form, settle for good enough and move on to creating.
Once you begin your first draft, the most important thing is to simply do it. Write out the long, technical details from the short, conceptual ideas. Create an outline and fill it in. Don’t allow yourself to become distracted, don’t try to edit the minor details while you’re initially hammering things out. Just do it.
When the first draft is finished, open yourself up to allowing others to help collaborate on it, to give you feedback. Understand how your ideas and intentions are perceived by others. Start making changes to your prototype. Develop cycles of iteration. Figure out what needs to be added or removed.
There are often times when, sometime during the process, you’ll realize that what you’ve created essentially falls flat. Just as it’s important to open up with creating ideas, you also have to open up to discarding things when they don’t work. See if you can pivot what you’ve created into a new direction, explore new ideas that can be worked into it.
One of my favorite quotes is by Paul Valéry, which is that a poem is never finished, only abandoned. It’s easy to feel that after the hard work of a few drafts, that you have a completed work. The reality is, though, that everything you make can always be improved upon in some way.
Reviewing what you’ve already created is vitally important to progress forward and improve your skills. Think about how you can repurpose content — not for the sake of milking it, but instead to explore how different mediums could add to how to your ideas.
Would you be able to better explain your blog post as a chapter in a book? Would you be able to better explain an idea if you provided visual graphics? Don’t be afraid of delving deeper into the complexities of something once you have a handle on it.
Using metrics is also helpful, figure out what work people respond to and what they ignore — what separates them? When you figure out what works, double down on it. Invest on effective measures and discard what doesn’t work.
Take action with your ideas, don’t wait until they’re perfect to start.
Iterate on those ideas, make incremental changes in a positive direction.
Adapt what is useful, disregard what’s ineffective.
The essential message that I was trying to make was that you don’t need an arbitrary date, like January 1st, to mark that you want to change. You can change — or do new things — anytime you want. And that it was better to do anything at all, than it was to do nothing.
But, looking back on this, I realized that I didn’t go into detail at all with what I truly wanted to accomplish.
Something I have learned the hard way, after trying time and time again, is that you cannot change your entire self.
When I read a lot of self-help articles and books, I often find the author telling the reader the many things that they need to start doing differently. My skepticism makes me often wonder if the author themselves practice what they preach.
So I am plainly going to write out what I plan on trying to accomplish. None of it is rather grand — baby steps. Feel free to copy any of it.
These aren’t goals, either, rather they are plans for a better system. Things I can work on every day, and not stop when I reach a specific milestone.
Have a healthier diet. The exact science of ideal human nutrition has become more of a debate as time goes on — polar opposite diets regarding specific macros are said to be the healthiest way, with studies to back them up. But I’m a simple person, so really this just means cutting out things that have a high sugar (or artificial sweetener) content, as well as stopping myself from overeating. Maybe adding a few more fruits and veggies to my diet, too.
Stretch for 15 minutes every morning. This routine is also one that’s debated, as runners that do stretch show signs of strain and injury nearly as much as those that don’t. But I find limbering myself up before the day makes it easier for me to handle physical activity.
Meditate for 10 minutes every morning. Meditation is something I have done since I became a practicing Mahayana Buddhist when I was around 13 or so. I believe it is one of the most essential habits one could have, as it allows you to truly and deeply think about what exactly you want to do with your day. Visualizing your day is a powerful tool.
Go for a 25 minute jog every other day. Back when I was in high school I used to do a lot of sprinting, but I now usually find myself barely able to write-in any physical activity into my schedule. Using a tool like Runkeeper is also a great motivator.
Sit less. While I don’t think sitting is as detrimental to your health as some might believe, I do think that it’d be healthy to get up every 20 or so minutes, particularly if I’m working at a screen.
Go to bed early, wake up early. My circadian rhythm has proven to be difficult, and I often find myself staying up late and consequently waking up late, giving myself no time to focus on the rest of my day. And I know that nothing makes me feel more energized or gives me more momentum than having spare time to do the things I enjoy in the morning.
Publish a story on Medium bi-weekly. When I post, I find myself doing it sporadically and in great quantity all at once. By queuing and planning ahead with my writing, I’d be better able to maintain a consistent pace and write more often.
Read and comment on more Medium stories. Something I need to take advantage more of on this platform is the community. There are so many amazing stories and authors that go unrecognized and ignored, and I want to start a dialogue with that.
Learn a new language. I’ve been using Duolingo on-and-off for a few years trying to improve my French. If I start using it, among other language resources, every day and expose myself to more French media, I know I’ll be able to become fluent.
Self-host a blog for a side-project. As much as I thoroughly enjoy Medium for blogging, using it as a host is a crutch. I need to expose myself to more front-end and back-end web development by deploying my own blog for another niche hobby (maybe poetry, photography, music — who knows). A few good examples would be Jekyll or Ghost.
Tame my monkey mind. I believe this is the most important thing I want to accomplish. It’s a humorous way of saying I want to stop procrastinating and wasting time — allowing myself to subside and mindlessly scroll through Facebook or Reddit. I would much rather spend half of that time doing something I sincerely enjoy to relax and feel a lot better about it.
Write a weekly review, every week. One habit I seldom partake in when I journal write is reviewing. I often leave my notes said and done with, but going back and reviewing the most important aspects of my week would really help me see where I can improve. In addition, once I have my weeks reviewed, it’s far easier to review the month, the year, etc.
Start working with a Pomodoro timer. One of my worst problems when working is burnout. I usually work for three or four hours straight — or don’t do any work all. Pacing is key to working longer without a decay in quality.
Review and study for 30 minutes each day. Whether it’s for school or for my own self-education. Utilizing flashcards and mnemonics instead of rote learning helps exponentially.
Be kinder to all. I am often times, too hard on myself, and others around me as well. Whether it be strangers or good friends.
Care less. On the other hand, I also find myself getting mixed up in things that truly hold no meaning. I can’t waste my time fretting about fake news, or getting worked up about differences of opinions. I have no time or energy for things that don’t consume me entirely.
Review this document each day in 2017. Most of the time, we unconsciously give up our resolutions because life becomes too busy and we fall back into complacency. By forcing myself to look at this document every day, I’ll be sure to increase my chances of sticking to what I want to start doing. Maybe I could start making updates? I’m not sure, for now.