Guiding Principles for Writing, Living and Doing
For the next 30 days I will write and publish something every day. Therefore it is useful to decide some guiding principles for what to write about.
The advice is that, in order to build an audience, you should have a coherent theme throughout your writing. This enables the people who enjoy your work on that theme to keep coming back because they know what to expect.
However, restricting myself to certain subjects would limit the quantity and therefore limit the development of writing ability. As I have stated that creating high quality content and building an audience is NOT my prime objective (although I still consider it important), I will not attempt to define an overarching theme for my written work.
Yet I still need something to guide my writing. The most useful approach, rather than a specific theme, would be a series of questions that I will ask myself each time I sit down to write. Questions create spaces for answers to fit.
In order write a high quantity, it is necessary for me to write about things that interest me. I find writing on a topic an effective way of coming up with new insights and understanding. Therefore, my first question will be what do I want to think, and come to a conclusion, about?
I don’t enjoy reading re-packaged insights that I have already come across. Therefore I don’t want to re-state something I’ve read in a different way without adding something new. Developing new ideas is about seeing connections between concepts you know. Derek Sivers talks about how some ideas that are obvious to you may be amazing to others, so I hope to combine my personal experiences and way of seeing the world with existing ideas to create new ones. To prompt this, my second question will be what is a different way of thinking about this?
One of the main aims of my writing throughout has been to benefit others. While trying to think differently about ideas that interest me is useful, it won’t necessarily achieve this goal. Therefore, my third and final question is how can this add value to others? I think this is a question we should all ask ourselves regarding out actions.
These three questions can be applied to any situation. For example, if deciding what career path you want to take or a project you want to start, you could ask:
- What do I want to work on?
- What is a different way of approaching this?
- How can it add value to others?
At my current stage, I am aware that many others have better insights which they express with more clarity. Therefore, to add value to readers, I will include outlines of these concepts and references to fuller, better explanations. For example, the Signal vs Noise and Derek Sivers insights above. I will focus on elaborating only on my own ideas.
One advantage that I can offer over popular writers with large audiences is the ability to interact. People who have ‘made’ it are too busy and difficult to contact, so the transaction is one-way. In the next 30 days, I will respond to every message and read every comment. If there is something you would like me to write about, let me know and I will do so.
Another way I will try to add value is an ‘Other’ section at the bottom of articles, where I will include content not directly related to the content of the article but which may be useful to some.
As a busy, working individual (often starting work early and feeling tired by the time I return home), it would be easy for me to make excuses not to write. Instead, I have decided on a strategy. Every morning, I free-write while I eat my breakfast for about 30–45 minutes. This fills my mind with ideas and questions. In the evening, despite feeling tired, I am excited at the prospect of elaborating on these ideas and answering these questions so don’t find it difficult to sit down and write. If there’s something that you want to do, don’t make excuses — make a strategy.