I ran a half marathon once, which often makes people assume I'm a runner. I'm really more of an avid jogger. I can get in a 5K under a 10-minute mile if I work hard, but I'm not breaking any records over here. There is a difference between working really hard at something to say "you've done it", and being a natural. I've been writing a lot recently too, but I still wouldn't say I'm a "writer". Writing is still pretty hard for me, even after 6 years of working at it daily. Here's what I've learned so far:
1. Write to Learn, Don't Learn to Write
One of the greatest misconceptions I had when I started writing was that I had to be the expert on a subject before I started. That is, I needed to first learn before I wrote. I now know that I learn so much from the process. I don't need to know anything else but the question. I'll learn as I write. The process forces me to research and distill an idea down in a way I can explain to others. Selfishly, I write for myself and hope it helps others.
2. Interesting Offline is Interesting Online
Online is simply a reflection of my offline life. People who are interesting online are typically interesting offline as well. You can't manufacture things to write about very easily. The more time I spend reading, working and challenging myself, the more questions I have to explore. When things are slow and I'm not challenging myself, it becomes difficult to write.
3. Be Consistent
I've learned that my online "relationships" are similar to those offline. If I'm not consistent, both in timing and content, people don't trust me. People look for a certain type of content, and it's important to consistently share this subject matter. Also, it's important to consistently share throughout the week. This principal seems easy, but I'm finding it 's really hard. For instance, as I've started writing more for others, I've been writing significantly less here on my blog. Being consistent means valuing delivery of perfection. It also means working really hard at the first two principals. I have to always be learning new things and exploring new questions so I have something to share.
I also need to get better at saying "no". As I've done more writing and speaking, I've gotten more offers and interest. That feels nice, but it's so easy to become unfocused. In the future, I'm going to have to focus more and have the confidence to say "no".
4. Be Authentic
Authenticity is really, really, hard. It requires being vulnerable. Being an "expert" doesn't require perfection. Posturing gets me nowhere. It's important that I share about mistakes and failures. It's important that I share my learning process and how I'm growing. People don't want to hear about success all the time. In fact, people hate perfection. I'm working on being more open with failures and mistakes. I hope to share more of this in the near future.
If you blog or write, I'd love to hear about what you've been learning as well.