Writing is fucking hard. Far more unnatural than writing, photographing, or any other artistic form.
1. Writing is just expressing your soul
It has taken me a very long time to hone my writing skills. I’ve been writing for a long time — I started my first blog when I was around 16 years old. I’m currently 29, so I guess I’ve been blogging for around 13 years now.
What has hurt me is all this ‘misinformation’ regarding writing. In the past, I got bogged down by grammar nazis and ‘rules’ on writing.
I’m starting to realize that there is no right or wrong way to write. Writing is just self-expression. Writing is a way to express your inner-soul.
2. I don’t have writer’s block; I just fear being judged negatively by others
I used to have a hard time finding motivation to write. After all, what causes some of us to get writer’s block? I know personally, I used to have a lot of writer’s block, and a lot of ‘resistance’ to writing.
But honestly, I don’t think ‘writer’s block’ exists. For me, it isn’t writer’s block. It is fear. Fear that you will be negatively judged. Fear that others will look down upon you.
The only way to overcome this fear is to make yourself naked. To bleed on the digital page. To write about your own flaws, your own inconsistencies, and your deepest, darkest, inner-thoughts. If you can’t be honest to yourself, how can you be honest with others?
3. Bleed onto the page
About a year or so ago, I went through an inner-cleansing, or purge. I had a lot of negative emotions, thoughts, and feelings from the past. I just let them spill out onto the screen, from my fingertips. Writing was self-therapy. I feel cured now.
What gets me up in the morning now, to motivate myself to write?
For me, it is a sense of purpose. A sense that I was put on this earth for a greater purpose, instead of just feeding myself, buying myself a bunch of stuff, and adding to the ‘comforts’ in my life. I write to help empower others. I write to create information which I was once hungry for. I write to create open access, to create free information and resources, in order to not waste my life, and to have a reason to wake up in the morning.
I never want to retire. I want to write until I have massive carpal tunnel, and perhaps might have to start dictating to write. I write with a sense of ego, which thinks that I have something worth sharing. And I think I do. And I think you do too.
4. Share your light with others
If the world was a dark cave, and you had a light — wouldn’t you share that light with others? Or would you keep it to yourself?
Write because you have something worth sharing. For me, I used to get discouraged if I didn’t get a bunch of page views on my blog or articles. For the last 3 years, I’ve disabled statistics on my blog. This is the best motivator. Because I write for myself, and I write for the (few) others. My ultimate driving force is that if I can write something of use to even 1 other individual, it is worth doing.
Even if my creative writing isn’t useful to any other individual, as long as it is useful to me, I still write.
5. When in doubt, drink more coffee
Of course there are practical things which help motivate me to write. Which is (of course) a lot of coffee, cold showers, and physical hunger.
I’ll give you an example:
Yesterday (Feb 19th, 2017) was Cindy’s birthday. We had a lovely dinner, and slept around 11pm. For some reason, I woke up today at 4am. I usually sleep in until around 9am, but perhaps I didn’t sleep well because I had some wine last night (I usually don’t drink).
Anyways, I get out of bed, take an icy cold shower, mind stirring with ideas I want to write about and share. I still feel tired, so I make myself a (strong) Vietnamese robusta coffee. I also currently have some hip hop instrumentals on loop (Pusha T’s ‘Nosetalgia’) — which I find helps my mind focus. I cannot write in complete silence.
My apartment is pitch dark, and I have “IA writer” set to night time mode. I accidentally woke up Cindy earlier, so I’m trying to type (softly).
6. Turn off the internet, and the phone
I also find what helps motivate me to write is not getting distracted. I make it a point to fast from ‘junk information.’ What I mean by that is this— I know that fasting from food (not eating) for periods of time (18-24 hours) is healthy for your body and mind, like a purge. The same goes with digital information — I’ve found that 99% of what I read online is just junk food. I’ve found true information through poetry, ancient philosophy, and funny enough— a lot of modern hip hop music (Kendrick Lamar is a true poet, and one of my biggest inspirations).
I make it a point not to check email for long periods of time, and I check social media as little as humanly possible. Also whenever possible, I remove any form of statistics which ‘self-quantify’ myself. I don’t check my word counts for my writing, nor do I check how many likes, comments, or whatever my writings get.
Also a huge new step for me — I care less about posting my articles and thoughts on social media. Because posting things to social media causes me to feel a slave to someone else’s platform. True freedom as a writer is to own your own platform— your own blog, your own self-hosted platform to express your ideas. I use wordpress.org, with the (paid) ‘Genesis’ theme. I can publish anything I want, without censorship. This drives me.
7. Today is your last
I write about this a lot, but death is the ultimate motivator of my writing.
Whenever I put my fingers to the keyboard, I write like it will be the last thing I write. Because who knows, I might walk out into the streets of Hanoi and get run over by some crazy taxi driver. Or perhaps I might get some allergy to some food (I am allergic to shrimp), get anaphylaxis, cannot breathe, and die.
At best, I can live to be 92 years old (when my grandfather died). At worst, I will die today or tomorrow.
I write as much as I can, and try to schedule out my thoughts into the distant future. And I don’t fear ‘over-publishing’ — another deterrent to my writing.
8. I am not a writer
The last advice I have for you is this— don’t call yourself a writer. That will hurt you. Just see yourself a curious individual in life, who gets some ideas, and shares these ideas for the benefit of your few friends, and for yourself.
9. Don’t write if you don’t feel like it
Also, don’t write if you don’t feel like it. I’m lucky that I always feel like writing.
Figure out whether you have a hard time motivating yourself to write (if you have any ideas worth writing about), or whether your issue is fear of writing— fear of publishing, and fear of being judged.
10. Hit publish
If you fear being negatively judged, just put shitty work out there. Just hit publish. No fear advanced any man to the highest standing (Horace).
Be brave, and put yourself out there.