I didn’t write a blog yesterday

I didn’t want to.

I felt creatively drained and empty.

I forgot to do it in the morning and then it slipped my mind.

Now I’m writing this one and it sucks. It’s lazy.

Oh well, on to the next one.

Done is better than perfect.

Write like a motherfucker

A person writing with pen and paper

Last night, I finished another chapter of Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things. It was my favorite one yet.

The book consists of captivating Dear Sugar columns; people write in asking for her advice and she tells gripping, emotional stories and gives life-changing insights.

The chapter I read before bed last night was called “Write Like a Motherfucker.” In it, a woman wrote in looking for much needed motivation. She’s a writer who doesn’t write. She’s often paralyzed by her depression.

She writes:

“I’m…a high-functioning head case, one who jokes enough that most people don’t know the truth. The truth: I am sick with panic that I cannot—will not —override my limitations, insecurities, jealousies, and ineptitude, to write well, with intelligence and heart and lengthiness. And I fear that even if I do manage to write, that the stories I write will be disregarded and mocked.”

What powerful vulnerability. And what a concrete example of someone who wants something but believes there’s something in the way.

To be clear, I am NOT downplaying the role of mental health here. I love that Cheryl opens by recommending professional help to this woman. The power of not having the energy to do what we want to do is stark.

But the reason I love this chapter so much is because Cheryl throws down some masterful tough love.

The phrase tough love often gets a bad rep. People tend to get distracted by the first part, tough: possibly unpleasant, firm, or uncomfortable…that they forget about the second part entirely, love: coming from a place of “I care about you and your wellbeing.”

I believe in accepting others for who they are and showing consistent compassion to ourselves and those around us. But I also believe in challenging ourselves and those around us for the sake of pushing humans to be better.

Cheryl hits her with this hammer:

“The most fascinating thing to me about your letter is that buried beneath all the anxiety and sorrow and fear and self-loathing, there’s arrogance at its core. It presumes you should be successful at twenty-six, when really it takes most writers so much longer to get there.”

Wow. No pity party here.

I can only imagine how much this stung to read. But Cheryl does a fantastic job in relating her own experiences and assuring her that this all comes from a place of love and care. Plus, the point is not: Does this sting? The point is: Is this true and is this useful?

Going through mental chaos is God damn difficult. In many cases, it can be debilitating. But unfortunately, that doesn’t remove the work that needs to be done.

Cheryl describes humility: not being up too high or down too low, but on the ground level. She writes:

“We get the work done on the ground level. And the kindest thing I can do for you is to tell you to get your ass on the floor. I know it’s hard to write, darling. But it’s harder not to. The only way you’ll find out if you “have it in you” is to get to work and see if you do. The only way to override your “limitations, insecurities, jealousies, and ineptitude” is to produce. You have limitations. You are in some ways inept. This is true of every writer, and it’s especially true of writers who are twenty-six. You will feel insecure and jealous. How much power you give those feelings is entirely up to you.”

The negative feelings we experience are absolutely valid. But the work still needs to be done. It’s up to us to continue to show up and do it.

“Writing is hard for every last one of us—straight white men included. Coal mining is harder. Do you think miners stand around all day talking about how hard it is to mine for coal? They do not. They simply dig…

You need to do the same, dear sweet arrogant beautiful crazy talented tortured rising star glowbug.

So write…Not like a girl. Not like a boy. Write like a motherfucker.”

(Strayed, Cheryl. Tiny Beautiful Things (p. 60). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.)

Start a damn blog

Yesterday, an old friend told me he was considering starting a blog.

I gave him the same advice I give everyone when they tell me this:

Fucking do it.

Writing this blog every day has been one of the best decisions of my life. It’s given me an avenue to share my thoughts with others. But more than that, it’s given me the accountability to basically journal every day.

I don’t write this because I want to be some big time blogger. I do it because it helps me get clarity on what I actually think. It’s improved my ability to articulate myself. It’s allowed me to share what I’m doing with people I don’t otherwise keep in contact with.

Every so often, someone will reach out (usually someone outside my circle) and tell me they’ve been enjoying the blog. I certainly don’t write in the hopes I’ll get compliments, but God damn it feels validating. It warms my heart to hear that people who could be staring at anything else on the internet have chosen to spend two minutes and read my mediocre writing.

Like any other pursuit, thoughts and stories creep in and make arguments for why we should quit. But like any other pursuit, we’ll be so much happier a year from now saying “I’m glad I started a year ago,” as opposed to “I’ve been thinking about starting this for a year…”

No service, no blogs

I was in West Virginia this weekend.

Log cabin, rafting, zip-lining, beer, no service or wifi.

That meant for the first time in over a year, no blog posts.

My friend even texted me to make sure I was okay. To me, that was an enormous compliment.

I stop this thing for two days and people wonder where the hell I am! It’s a sign of consistency and support.

But I’m back with more daily garbage. Back with a farmer’s sunburn and a lingering hangover.

Back in the saddle again.

Cliches are true?

People often say: “It’s cliche but it’s true.”

That’s always confused me. Of course it’s true! That’s why it’s a cliche.

Here are a few that I live my life by:

1) If you want something different, you have to do something different.

In other words, if we’re doing the same thing over and over again, we can’t complain that we’re not getting the results we were hoping for.

For many months, I wanted a thriving coaching business but was unwilling to put myself out there and make it happen. Needless to say, I wasn’t reaching enough potential clients. Only once I gritted through the fear did I really start to make the business sustainable.

2) You get back what you put out into the world.

The happiest and most fulfilling moments of my life are always when I’m the most positive, grateful, and compassionate person I can possibly be.

Shockingly enough, people enjoy being around folks who make them laugh, make them feel listened to and supported, and make them feel inspired to take action.

It’s similar to another cliche:

If you’re not getting what you want in life, help more people.

This has been true for me in business and in my relationships.

3) Do what you love.

I know, barf.

But let me explain.

I hated my full-time job and had to quit and start my own thing to keep my sanity. I’m well-aware that most people have no interest in doing that.

Doing what we love doesn’t mean we have to uproot our careers and fight tooth and nail to make money with our passions. I have a ton of friends who work jobs they don’t necessarily love so they can pay their bills and have the time and money to have fun on their days off.

Doing what we love can mean:

  • Trying more new things
  • Developing our passions
  • Spending more intentional time away from anything to do with work
  • Taking more trips
  • Spending more quality time with loved ones

I love writing this blog, so I cut out a chunk of time each morning where I type away. I say no to most things on weeknights so I can do jiujitsu. I play chess every day. I take one vacation each month. And yes, I work my ass off to continue this career I absolutely love.

It’s cliche…but it’s true.

How to get people to read your stuff

A man playing basketball

Here are all the things I’m proud of at the moment:

• The strength of my relationships
• My fitness
• My coaching business
• The fact that I know at least basic martial arts skills
• My intermediate chess abililites
• This blog
• My ability to listen to, connect with, and coach other human beings

What do they all have in common?

They’ve taken a fuck-ton of time (in metric units).

The cliche goes:

“It’s only taken me ten years to become an over-night success.”

Perhaps there are freaks of nature who are naturally good at the things they do. Good for them. But for the other 99% of us, getting great at the things we care about will take countless repetitions.

I’ve been writing this blog every day since October 2019. Those first pieces make me cringe. I had no idea how to string ideas together and I used big words to sound more academic. And for months, each blog was averaging two readers: myself and my super supportive friend. (Thanks Grace!)

Now, there are hundreds of folks tuning in each week and I couldn’t be more grateful. But that hasn’t happened because I’ve found the perfect way to market my stuff or because I’ve shoved it in the faces of enough people.

It’s like that because I’ve sat down each morning and typed out my thoughts. Eventually, I got a little better at writing. My average of two readers went up to three. Then four. And so on…

I’m always skeptical when I see ads like, “Get 100x MORE followers in ONE month!!”

Fuck off.

Maybe methods like that exist, maybe they don’t. I personally have zero interest.

The only thing I care about is consistently showing up to do the work.

This leads to improvement, which leads to higher quality, which leads to more value, which leads to more people interested, which leads to improvement, and on and on it goes…..

No matter what

There are plenty of days where I don’t feel like writing this blog.

I have no ideas and resist exploring my thoughts.

On other days, I’ll spend 45 minutes hashing out a thought.

What matters isn’t the amount of time I spend writing or even the quality of the writing.

What matters is that I show up every single day and do it.

What could you get really good at if, no matter what, you had to show up every single day and do the work?

The person you should be like

A blooming flower in a field

Until I was about 25, I thought relentlessly, Who should I be like?

I looked to successful friends, role models, even characters in movies or plays.

When I was in high school, I would listen to the music my friends liked even though I didn’t really enjoy it.

Last year, in trying to make YouTube videos on self-improvement, I tried my best to copy my favorite filmmakers who made the same content.

After starting my own business, I read countless business and self-help books to figure out who I should emulate to become prosperous.

In my work, my relationships, and my creative endeavors…I’ve spent an ungodly amount of time asking that same throbbing question…

Who should I be like?

As we get older, one of the frustrating (and uplifting) things we realize is that cliches are cliches for a reason: They remain true.

We can turn to one of the top five cliches to answer this uncomfortable question:

Be like you.

In a world of seven billion humans, there is only one person on the planet who has the exact same combination of interests, strengths, and perceptions as you have. And it’s…me.

Just kidding. It’s you.

Of course, it’s necessary to be influenced by others. Soak in ideas and motivation from the people you respect. There’s always something to learn from everyone.

But only you can take what you learn and make it totally your own.

I’ve written about 1000 blog posts on this site you’re reading. There’s not a single word I haven’t taken from something else.

My mom and teachers taught me how to read and write.

All my ideas have come from experiencing the outside world—conversations with friends, stories, and lessons I’ve learned and pondered over.

But they’ve made it onto this screen because they’ve traveled through the filter that is my brain and then out of my fingertips and onto the keyboard.

Thus making them mine.

The same is true for everything you do and say.

What do you value and cherish? What excites you? What do you love?

Do that. Do it all the time. Get really fucking good at whatever you hold dear to your heart.

Because that’s you.

When you do that, you don’t have to be like anyone else. You can be the coolest person on earth.

You.

Sometimes you don’t

Sometimes you don’t have to do anything profound or special.

Not every workout, idea, conversation, (or blog post) has to be the best one ever.

Usually, what’s most important is just sitting down and consistently doing the work.

Roses

Roses are red.

Violets are blue.

This blog is shit.

Fuck you.

“Add Title”

“Start writing or type / to choose a block.”

These are on my screen every morning before I write the day’s blog.

Some days it’s inviting. Like, what are you going to make today?

Other days it’s daunting. Like, what the hell could you possibly write about that you haven’t said a million times before?

No matter which one it is, I find that if I just start typing, I find my way.

You don’t have to know exactly where you’re going.

If you just start moving and making decisions, the path will reveal itself.

Writing a Blog Every Day for a Year: Here’s What I’ve Learned

A year and a month ago, I sat down to write my first blog.

It was about starting something new. Something scary. Not knowing what would come of it.

I’ve written every day since then (except Sundays). Here’s what I’ve learned:

1) Things become MUCH easier when willpower is taken out of the equation.

I don’t sit down each morning and decide whether or not I should write a blog. There’s no battle. I have no choice. It’s what I do.

At first, I was afraid (I was petrified) that I’d quickly run out of interesting things to say. I’ve learned however that creativity is a skill; it’s like a muscle. Meaning if you exercise it, practice it, and use it all the time…you become wildly better.

2) If you want to create things for others, you have to love doing it for YOU first.

If I set out to write blogs and newsletters with the priority of gaining an audience, I would have quit after two months.

Things like fame, followers, and money…it’s okay to want these things (we shouldn’t have to lie to ourselves). But if they are your #1 motivator, that’s just unsustainable.

Building trust in people with your ideas, your products, or your art…none of this happens in a week. I’ve been working hard(ish) for over a year and I just began to experience an uptick in readership.

My advice to anyone who wants to pursue something like this:

Ask yourself, “Am I willing to do this all the time for a year or two before anyone really starts to care?”

If the answer is no, I suggest you recalibrate.

I’ve never hesitated in writing these blogs because I fucking love writing them. They’re a fast and easy way for me to work out whatever is on my heart and mind. It’s like I have a journal public to all.

Even if I had a readership of one (myself), you’d still find me sitting here and typing.

If after writing that first blog, I fantasized about how amazing I would feel a year later, having written every day, it would have been distracting.

The only way I could keep at it: sitting down each day and focusing on nothing but today’s blog. Tomorrow will come. Trust me.

Do it because you love it, not because it might bring you rewards. If you get really fucking good at it, and continue to bring value to others…the rewards will inevitably come.

3) Cringing at your past work is one of the best feelings.

When I read my old shit, I want to fold into myself like a dead spider and shrivel away. I love it.

Looking at your old work–especially when you first started–is such an embarrassing experience. But why?

It’s because you’re so much better now than you were then.

You have better taste. You’re improving. You’re moving forward.

If you’re not disgusted at the work you did a year ago, that should worry you…

TL; DR.

Doing something creative/fun/interesting every single day is one of the most rewarding things you could do for yourself.

A year from now, you’ll be glad you started today.

To quote myself from that first blog:

“If you’re worried about beginning because your work will be garbage, don’t. It will be. The trick is to understand the value of sucking and keeping at it until you develop the potential quality your idea deserves. Here we go.

Start.”

Read the First Sentence of This Blog Post

This one.

Now read the third one.

Yes, this one.

This is how Copywriting works. The first sentence’s only job is to get you to read the second sentence; and so on…

People might write off Copywriting if they are not interested in business endeavors, but understanding its basic laws will change the way you look at ads, websites, articles, everything.

Aside from selling my Copy to clients, learning about Copywriting has drastically improved my writing. There’s a simple rule which any writer can use:

Each and every sentence, word, and letter…must be absolutely necessary on the page. If you can get rid of it and have the idea still make sense, you must.