Swing away

I am compelled to write. Sometimes the subjects I write about don't fit within the framework I created for myself. That framework exists to give structure to what gets shared with you because I want readers to feel like they can depend on me for a certain type of content. Sure, I may want to write about donuts and video games, but those topics may not serve you.

This past weekend, my family and I visited with friends for a holiday party. One of our friends is the chief technology executive for a local school district, and we got to talking about how teachers teach and student learn in the face of all the new technology.

The conversation made me want to write about being a parent, and my responsibility to my child to give him every opportunity to succeed with an inevitable future. As I sat down to write about the topic, I questioned myself on whether the topic fits within the framework of what I want to share with you.

I decided that I won't be posting up about my thoughts surrounding technology and parenting, but that doesn't mean I won't write about it.

Writing is a catalyst—a kickstart for your creative mind. Whether you're typing into a keyboard, or pen to paper, the process of writing is one of the best ways to grease the cogs of your brain to prepare it for doing more creative work later in the day.

Stringing words together creates fluidity in the mind. Sometimes the words pour out of you, and you can't type fast enough to get all the thoughts out, and other times it feels like watching cold molasses come out of the jar. That's ok because even though the writing is sometimes a struggle, you're doing good work on the inside.

But before you come up with lame excuses about why you're not a good writer, nobody said you had to be Shakespeare. The more you write, the better it feels. And when it feels better, you want to write more, but here's the thing: You don't have to publish any of it.

This isn't about blogging. It's not about posting on social media. This is about helping you doing work that gets your mind moving so you can do more good work in other places. Yes, if you happen to write something that feels amazing and you want to share it with people, then you should, because when others react to it, it will make you want to do it even more.

But you don't have to share.

You also don't have to write entire chapters of your life each day either. I personally believe it's important to strive for a reasonable about of words each time you write because your mind needs time to warm up. If you only put a couple hundred words down, it's possible you haven't stretched your brain enough, and you risk leaving some real magic behind.

You may think to yourself, as you sit down to write, that 200 words may be enough, so that's all you strive for, but what if the 201st word is the one releases the flow that pours out a thousand more words around whatever idea you're sharing. You can't know that until you push yourself a little further.

I don't want to belabor this point any further than necessary, because reading about writing is only good if it gets you to the writing, and I don't want to keep you from it. Instead, I'll leave you with some basic instruction, and then leave you to your devices.

  1. Carve out some time in your day to write, and make it the same time each day. The ritual of writing is what makes you better at it. Pretty quickly your mind will start to realize that this time is squared away for this type of work, and will be ready for you when it's time.

  2. Strive for at least 500 words. You may not need all of them, because the brilliance may shine through faster than that, but if you push for 500 or more, you may find you want to keep going. You may also struggle to get there, and each word feels like a chore, but the words you lay down today may pave the way for better ones tomorrow.

  3. When you get to 500 words or more, reward yourself. Maybe it's a mental high-five to yourself, a victory lap around the living room, or if you're me, that second cup of coffee that you told yourself you wouldn't get up to get until you finished writing.

  4. If you want to post it, then post it, but you don't have to share anything. For me, posting gives validation to my effort, but that's my process. If yours stays in a book, or in a folder on your computer, and never sees the light of day—so be it.

  5. Take note of how you feel the rest of the day. Do you feel like you got more accomplished? Did you feel more creative in general? The writing might not have opened the floodgates of your artistry, but It's my guess that you will feel better about your day. Take note of that and make it the reason you get up tomorrow and try again.

Full disclosure here: This piece was a struggle for me at first, I didn't want to finish it. I even had to stretch it over two days because the words wouldn't flow, but I pushed through those first few painful paragraphs and got to my point. Is it my best writing ever? Not likely, but that's ok. I'm not here to hit home runs every time I'm at bat. This isn't the World Series, it's batting practice, and I'm going to keep swinging away. Maybe I will hit a dinger now and then, but that's not the purpose.

This is about fueling the fire for something even greater, whether that's more words on a different project or art of another form. So let's stop worrying about what people think about our words and go stoke the fires for something even more creative.