Here’s everything I wrote to myself about writing in 2017. Word for word from my note book (with a few added headers to break things up a bit).
You can find 2016 here.
Also see Random Thoughts On Writing
Stay on message
- Be as positive and helpful as you can with your blog. There’s enough negativity out there already. There’s enough people out there airing their grievances and offering very little value. You have an opportunity to fill that void. And what will separate you from some of the helpful writers is that you write from the heart, and without fluff.
- Make change by reminding people of who they are in God’s eyes. By helping them see deeper into the nature of reality. To look beyond appearances. To look beyond worldly success. To look beyond fear and greed. To see all as one. To realize that they’re not the ego-person they’ve created and projected into the world.
- Each blog post is a snapshot of who I am. They’re little time capsules, representing thoughts I had at particular moments in time. Collectively, they paint a broad picture of what I’m about. At least what I want to be ideally (I don’t always practice what I preach).
- As a writer, you can’t hold yourself hostage to the opinions of your readers. If you write in a way that avoids criticism, you won’t say anything meaningful. The idea is not to give the readers what you think they want, but what you think they need. Even if they don’t want to hear it. Even if it causes them to throw your book in the garbage or unsubscribe from your blog. There’s a way to do it that minimizes offending people, but the point is that you must tell the truth — your truth. Do so with love and you should be fine.
- Your books and blog posts don’t have to be perfect. They never will be. But they have to be useful. They have to make a positive difference in people’s lives. This makes them worth publishing, even though they’re not perfect.
- Message is more important than style. What you write, is more important than grammar or what font you use. Good writing is less about fine tuning your grammar and more about fine tuning your message.
- You might write something that others will carry with them, but chances are the message will have to be repeated in order for it to stick.
- Write what you live, and live what you write.
- Set people free. It was your own freedom that inspired you to start blogging. Make your blog primarily about setting people free. This is what people need the most — we need peace. Be a messenger of peace.
- Your job is to show people a different way. The Way. It’s found in silence and solitude. It’s found in prayer. In fact, that is the way. It’s the way toward the Way.
- Let your writing be guided by service to others. Give to others what they need and what you want them to have. Help them with what has helped you. Be service driven. Give readers what you would want someone to give you. A very simple mission statement for me: teach people what you’ve learned.
- The world doesn’t just need research papers, it also needs your experience and your insights. There’s a time and a place for reading and for quoting others, but the majority of your writing should flow from within. Give people the fruit of your contemplation. That’s what it means to be a writer.
- In writing, you don’t need to figure out what to write. The idea is to quiet your mind and allow the right words to come to you. Write because you have something to write. Don’t force it. You could force yourself to write more, but will you be happy?
- I don’t need to have a plan for writing. After-all, I didn’t plan on being a writer in the first place. Life placed that desire and opportunity into my lap, unexpectedly. No plans were involved. Nor did I plan on having a message to share. The message came to me. Writing had become part of my life as an act of letting go. And my best writing comes from a state of letting go. And my message is primarily about letting go. Ten years ago I put my life in God’s hands and he hasn’t disappointed. Conversely, things have never worked out according to my own plans. Many of the things I’ve wanted, I’ve received, but mostly in unexpected ways. Stick to your message of surrendering to God. And keep living it everyday. That’s what has gotten you where you are and that’s why you set out to write in the first place. Stay on message. Stay in a state of surrender. Make your prayers, prayers of surrender. You’ll feel better and you’ll stay out of your own way. If you write another book, don’t plan it, let it become what it becomes as a result of your dependence on God.
- One of the great things about writing is that you usually don’t know what you’re going to write until you write it. You think you’ve got nothing, but then your pencil seems to have a life of its own.
- I can’t imagine beforehand all the things I’ll write in a given time period. Sometimes I don’t even know what the next thing will be. And I can’t imagine how I’ll write hundreds of thousand of more words in the coming years, but I know it will happen. I don’t have to see the whole picture, I just have to keep showing up and the words will come. Little by little. And they will add up to a lot over time.
- Thinking about what to write, won’t help you write. Not thinking, will help you write. The best writing is inspired writing. The stuff that comes to you unexpectedly.
- My writing has a life of its own. I didn’t force it in the beginning and I don’t need to force it now. Sit and wait for a message to come to you. That’s how you’ve done your best writing.
- I get my best work done in silence. That’s where true insight comes from. Part of my calling is to bring a message of silence to the world. I can’t do that if I’m always around others. I have to spend time in my own silence in order to help other people find their silence.
- Writing has a life of its own. Let it go where it wants to go. Let the words flow onto the page like a stream. Sit down with your note pad and turn the faucet on. Don’t turn it off until the well runs dry. Get up tomorrow morning and do the same thing all over again.
- A good writer reads. But a good writer also spends a lot of time with his silence, so that what wants to be written will reveal itself.
Process and writer’s block
- Every sentence you write is a chance to flush out more ideas, and to build equity. The more ideas you flush out, the more likely it is that you’ll express some good ones. And the more good ones you share, the more valuable you become as a writer to others. You have a lifetime of thoughts and experiences. Write them down. You aren’t always going to know which ones will resonate most with others. You’ll either have to share it all, or share the parts that resonate most with you. Some of the things you write, won’t make sense upon further reflection. And other things you write will continue to sing to you for years.
- Writer’s block doesn’t matter. If you don’t have anything to say, you don’t have anything to say. Eventually you will. Just be patient.
- As a writer, it’s impossible to imagine ahead of time everything you’ll write. It’s always surprising how much is still left in the tank. It comes out a little at a time and it amounts to a lot over time. Life is like that too. We try to imagine in our mind’s eye everything that we’ll do, how everything will play out, how to solve all our problems at once. But it’s impossible. We have to take it one moment at a time. And things often turn out differently than we imagined.
- I always get to a point where I don’t think I have anything else to write. As though I’ve said it all. As though I have no more insight. But this always turns out to be wrong. You can’t know what you’re going to write next. You can’t know what your next insight will be. There’s always more left in the tank. It’s a bottomless well. And your words don’t always have to be insightful, it can just be about expression. That’s what I’m doing right now, this is writing — getting my thoughts down on paper, whatever they might be in the moment. The insightful and the not-so insightful.
- If you want to know what to write, you have to get quiet. Find a quiet place to go be alone with your deepest thoughts. You’ll be doing yourself and your readers a favor.
- If you want to know what to write, ask yourself what you’ve been think a lot about lately. Write it down. Writing is merely talking with a pencil. Sit down and talk to your note book.
- If you want to write more, sit down with your notebook and wait. Wait and wait and wait. Things will come to you eventually.
- Write with passion. Let your passion spill onto the page. Don’t filter, don’t judge. Write what you really think. Edit later. Sometimes you have to write a lot of words to find the few you’re looking for.
- If you’re going to be up thinking in the middle of the night, you might as well be up writing.
- Write to yourself. That’s the best way to write to others. Write it for yourself and share it with the world.
- Let your writing be of service to others, rather than of service to your bank account.
- Write with honesty. Authenticity resonates. Be honest with yourself, so you can be honest with others. This way, your writing will be of service to yourself and others.
- Write what you know. Write what you’re not sure about too, but say you’re not sure.
- The quality of your work is not just determined by how much time you put into it, it’s also determined by how much of you you put into it.
- We trust people who are real. Be real. Being real includes being flawed.
- Is it better to check your blog stats 10 times per day, or is it better to write the next blog post? Give the world your best and forget about the stats.
- How can you put out your message to the world if you’re always listening to others? Find your message and share it. Don’t focus on other people’s messages.
- If you want to be a writer, be a writer. Stop messing around with other things and just write. Take every chance you get to spend time in silence, solitude, and prayer, and just write.
- Bring your best thoughts, ideas, and ways of expression directly to the market. Let the market (people) decide if what you can provide has value to them. Either way, you’ll have to prove you have something valuable to contribute. If not to the market itself, then to an employer. You have to show up though, and you have to bring your best. Why should anyone expect less of you? Either you’re committed or you’re not. Either you care or you don’t. Show up to work. It’s easy to make excuses. It’s harder to do what needs to be done. Writing is not hard for me, but writing a lot is. Writing with depth is. You have to spend a lot of time in silence and solitude, tapping into your inner being. This is where true insight comes from. This is where you’ll find valuable messages to share with others. This is what will set you apart from other writers.
- Everyday give the page everything you have. If you’re a writer, you have to sit down and write. You’ll always find a reason not to if you don’t set time aside for it. Inspiration will still visit you at times, but if you make more time for your writing you’ll make yourself more available for inspiration to find you.
- If you want to be a writer, be a writer. Dive into it. Stop dabbling. Stop putting limitations on how far it can go.
Keep it simple
- Be economical with your words. Don’t waste the reader’s time. Life is short. Get to the point.
- Good writing is succinct, direct, and simple.
- I’m sure I’ve contradicted myself many times in my writing, but that’s part of the growing process.
- What you write today is a reflection of who you are today. You may be someone slightly different tomorrow.
- I fight against my own advice sometimes. Therefore, so will my readers.
- When you write with honesty, you’ll offend some people. Even yourself sometimes. You won’t always agree with things you wrote in the past, even if what you wrote is true. Who doesn’t argue with themselves?
Writing as personal growth
- Writing in times of difficulty, even in times of frustration and anger, can be a source of inspiration. There’s a tendency to hold back when writing, but difficulties in life can help break down that barrier. Writing during those times can help you get through them. Writing during those times can help you see the light at the end of the tunnel.
- Writing can be a liberating and cleansing experience. Writing can be good therapy, because it causes you to face reality. It causes you to acknowledge things you would prefer to ignore. It causes you to let things out. Keeping things in and ignoring reality is a big part of our problems.
- I feel like my best writing — my best insights are still in me. It’s like I’m mining for new stuff. Like I’m trying to get down to the next layer, to find the rare minerals. And if I just keep digging, I’ll keep finding new stuff. Stuff that few other people have found.
- Writing is a way of finding yourself. It’s an opportunity to escape the influences of the world, so you can hear your own voice. Your true voice. It causes you to face yourself, including the parts of yourself that you don’t like and to find the parts of yourself you do like.
- The keys to my success will be reading, writing, and surrender to God.
- When I read a new book, I want my mind to be blown. As an author, I should try to blow my readers’ minds. There’s already enough average books in the world.
- You should write a book if it wants to be written. If it doesn’t, so be it. Write the book you want to read. Or the book your younger self should have read.
- No book is ever complete. A book is a snapshot of what the author was thinking at the time he or she wrote it. There’s always more to learn and more to say.
- Just because you wrote it, doesn’t mean you have to publish it. Write in order to flush thoughts out onto paper. Keep the ones that sing to you.
- The words I write are raw. But the words I publish are a little more polished. I polish them because I’m insecure. I want to look good. And because I want my communication to be clear — I want to serve the reader.
Finding your audience
- It’s not how many followers you have, but how many you have who care.
- You may be right, but you may not be great at articulating it. And you may not be the right messenger for every audience. Your message and delivery method isn’t for everyone. Even those closest to you may not be into it. They value you in another way.
- No matter what you write, there will be individuals who won’t understand what you meant. And there will be people who understand, but reject it anyway, because what you said hit too close to home. Just write your truth and let others think and react the way they want. It doesn’t change the truth.
- You don’t have to reach everyone. Your message is for who it’s for. You’ll attract the people you are meant to attract. I don’t write to the masses. Because I know the masses aren’t interested in my views. I write to a small minority of souls, spread out across the world, who value inner peace and wisdom through surrender to an unknown but infinitely gracious God. Even some people close to me rarely read my blog or my books. That’s how niche my writing is. Though I believe that most of the things I write about are universal on a subconscious level.
- Don’t hold yourself hostage to the opinions of others about you. If you want to be a leader and a teacher, you’re going to be judged and rejected by many people. But you’ll also leave your mark on many others who will be glad you had the courage to put yourself out there. If you want to leave a mark on others, you’ll have to stand for something. You’ll have to be a contrarian to some extent. You’ll have to be different from what others are used to. Your audience will be a niche audience. And that’s okay. And that’s all you should expect. Be an luminary and a breath of fresh air for those who are willing to listen.
- In writing, unlike in business, there are no competitors. It’s true that some people will read someone else’s book or blog instead of yours, but you will find your audience. And that audience will support you. You don’t have to reach everyone. Just those whose soul your writing speaks to. A writer expresses his humanity and his spirituality to those who have ears to hear it.
- The naysayers are not your audience.
Writing for a living
- Write your own ticket. Literally write your way into opportunities. Write your way into a new career. Just keep writing and sharing. Write the next post. Write the next book. Just keep going. You’ll get better. And if it’s good, people will talk about it. Instead of trying to find the next place to post your stuff, write something else. Eventually readers will come to you.
- You don’t need to build a global or national brand if you want to succeed as a writer. You just need to find enough people who value what you do. What you do and the way you do it is not for everyone.
- If you want to make a living as a writer, you need to become “indispensable” (S. Godin). You need to say what others are not saying. You need to be a leader. You need to be a beacon of light. Otherwise you won’t be needed. If you play it safe with your words, no one will notice you. Be helpful, and others will help you.
- Every post you write is building equity. It’s attracting new readers and solidifying you in the minds of existing readers. You can’t put a price or a value on every post, but they’re worth something. The value will likely be unlocked and realized at a later date. Play the long game.