There are few things in life where I’ve failed more than with my writing.
I had several blogs throughout the years but I never had the consistency to write regularly.
It’s not that I lack ideas or that I don’t want to share the things I learn, no, my problem is the lack of routines.
You can only reach consistency through habit, and I need to work the habit to write.
I want to write regularly to learn how to correctly structure my thoughts.
Basically, I want to make my writing a kind of rehearsal for when I need to apply what I learned.
But I face some obstacles on my path to this goal.
4 Mental Barriers
1 — My Boring Style
Problem: My writing is bad and/or boring.
Solution: I’ll write every day to get better at this. A couple of months from here I should have already found my “voice” and improved my style. I’ll keep learning from books and courses, as well as by following writers that I admire and learn from them.
2 — Imposter Syndrome
Problem: Who am I to write about this? Nobody knows me, I have no references, I didn’t even graduate from College, WTF am I thinking?
Solution: Deep inside I know this is stupid. I’m not trying to look like something I’m not. Anyone can write about anything, as long as they have an opinion about it. I’ll keep writing and ignoring internet trolls, as well as my insecurity voice whispering in my ear.
3 — Lack of Time
Problem: Okay, this “writing” thing is very cute, but you still have to pay the bills so your 9 to 5 can’t be left behind, when will you get time to write?
Solution: Well, let’s do the math: the day has 24 hours, let’s subtract 8 hours for sleep, 10 hours for work (including commuting and lunchtime), 3 hours for dinner and family time and 1 hour for working out, which leaves 2 hours to focus on my writing, and this is a very conservative estimative. Leisure time can be taken during the day, like checking your social media during lunchtime or listening to podcasts or audiobooks while commuting. So yeah, 2 hours of deliberate practice is more than enough to make this work!
4 — English as a Second Language
Problem: I’m not a native English speaker. I know I can express myself clearly but for someone that has excellent grammatical skills in his first language, it is a bit hard to hit “publish” feeling insecure about his work.
Solution: I’ll keep reading and writing in English, I’ll study grammar books and other resources, and Grammarly will help too, but above all, I’ll just breath in, breath out and relax before clicking “publish”. The form, although important, is not the goal of my writing, content is.
5 — Bonus Barrier: Wearing the Writer’s Hat
This is actually not a problem, but more like a mindset issue.
I’ve never identified myself as a writer, although I do write and quite well in some specific situations.
I have very strong communication skills, from a Customer Service point of view. I’m also good with content marketing and I’m reasonably creative, but I never told anyone that I like to write outside my professional context.
But if I want to develop my skills and become who I am plus something more, I better embrace it and wear the name without fear.
The initial description on my Medium profile started with “Kind of a Writer”.
This was obviously a defense from my mind trying to say sorry to the world for my writing:
Hey, this article sucks? Well, it’s not really my fault, I told you I’m just a “Kind of a Writer”!
But why should I apologize for expressing my opinion? Why shouldn´t I share my knowledge on topics I enjoy and feel comfortable talking about?
And who cares if someone thinks my writing is bad? I believe it’s not, and I’m sure it will keep getting better, so why should I be afraid to call myself a WRITER?
And why should you be afraid to do the same?
There is no reason.
The key to building lasting habits is focusing on creating a new identity first. Your current behaviors are simply a reflection of your current identity.
I totally agree with this.
With this in mind, I changed my profile presentation. Now it reads “Writer”, and that’s what I am.
It doesn’t matter if I make any money or gather a following with my writing. That would be nice, but it’s secondary, it’s the outcome of who you are and of what you do.
I write, so I’m a writer.
You can be a writer too, you just need to write!
You can be an athlete, you just need to work out!
You can be an artist, just do your creative work!
Even better, fill the blanc!
You can be ______, you just need to ______!
I’m not saying this mindset will magically transform you and your life, this will obviously take some time, more or less depending on what your goal is, but assuming the identity of who you want to become will be the first step to achieve that goal.
But this is not a “fake it till you make it”.
Do not pretend to be what you’re not. Do not pretend to be a best-selling author when you only have a dozen blog posts on your webpage.
Do not pretend to be fit just because you went to the gym 3 days in a row.
What I’m saying is to accept the stage where you are, be honest about it, but realize that by accepting it you’re getting closer to become it.
This is my 2nd article on Medium. As I write this I have 5 followers and 1 view of my first article.
I could hardly be “lower” than this, and yet my mindset is the same: I am a writer.
Do not think it is easy to share this. I obviously understand that a lot of people would find this ridiculous.
And I say “would” because saying “will” was assuming that anyone would read this! (Shh… shut up insecurity voice!).
I believe this will eventually be read. It may take some time, but I’m a writer, and writers have readers, so it’s a matter of time.
Don’t let the present define your future too much.
Believe in yourself, wear the hat you wish and work to own it.