On June 12th, 2008, I published my first blog post. I had no idea I would go on to create the YKAL community I’ve since created, I just knew I loved personal development and wanted to share it with the world, or at least 5 or 6 people who might read my little blog.
A decade later, I’ve switched from “Live Your Ideal Life” to what you know now as “Your Kick-Ass Life”, wrote and published 2 books (the second being translated into 15 languages, wait, what!?), nearly 250 podcast episodes, helped thousands of women in their lives and I’ve learned a lot. Here’s some things I’ve learned just about writing alone…
Writing makes you a better writer. One of the simplest pieces of advice I ever got and absolutely the truest. To be a better swimmer, you swim. To be a better kung fu fighter, you kung fu fight. Writing is the same, it’s getting your butt in the seat (unless you have a standing desk, if so, yay you!) and write. If you’re really committed, try to write every day.
Write like no one is reading. This might be easy if you journal and lock it up in your safe that has 17 lock combinations on it and you’re sure no one will read it, but sometimes we are bloggers, freelance writers, and Facebook status updaters. We know people are reading and that knowing can change the way we write and express ourselves.
When we do this, a little or a lot of bullshit can creep in. We start to worry about what people will think, we might skew our opinion to not seem “too much” of something, and things can go sideways, fast.
If you want to write with your whole heart, if you want to tap into the innermost parts of yourself that are raw and real and uncensored, you must write like no one is reading.
But also write like people are reading. I know I just gave you a heartfelt sermon on writing like no one is reading, but you have to know your audience once you create a community of readers. This lesson doesn’t apply if you’re writing with no goal in mind except to write (ie you’re not trying to build a business now or even eventually). If you want to grow your writing community, whatever that looks like, you must get to know who your best followers are. Follow your intuition, and listen to your audience at the same time.
You will get criticism, even if it’s just about your grammar. A wise woman once said, “You haven’t made it until you get a hater” and “hater” being anyone from a troll to someone who criticizes your work. There’s thoughtful criticism which is basically just feedback that argues your points, opinions, or work in general, and then there’s people who are just dicks.
The thing is, if you keep writing or putting your art out there, you will eventually get criticism. You’re not for everyone, and that’s okay.
What you do with that criticism will set your future into motion. I wrote about this in my last book, How To Stop Feeling Like Shit, and that’s about learning to deal with criticism. I used to let it TAKE ME DOWN. I would go down the rabbit hole of “This is too hard, people are mean, THEY DON’T EVEN KNOW ME, I hate this, I’m a terrible writer, okay bye” and then maybe write a few blog posts that I made sure were so vanilla and inoffensive to all people on planet Earth.
What I’ve learned about this is that 1) People are allowed to have their own opinions. If you’re sharing your art on a public platform (a blog, freelance article, Facebook) you’re going to eventually get someone who disagrees with you and that’s their right. Sometimes they are kind and thoughtful about it, and sometimes they are not. 2) And when they are not, it’s your choice to engage, but arguing with someone who doesn’t have the decency to engage with kindness, and get them to like you or see your side is like trying to nail jello to the wall. It’s not going to happen and it’s terribly messy and aggravating. 3) It will still sting when people criticize your work, so feel your feelings, vent to your friends about it, forgive the person who was rude/an a-hole/just had a different opinion and do your best to move on.
Your ideas, opinions and things you’re passionate about will change over time, you may even disagree with your former self. OMG the old, old blog posts I wrote. I’ve only deleted one of hundreds, but when I go back and read some of my old stuff, some of it I laugh and think, “Hey, that’s pretty clever” and some of it I cringe. I wrote through much of my eating disorder recovery, so I can watch myself getting better, like looking through old journals. Try not to be embarrassed about it, it’s just where you were at the time. Also, check out this screenshot of my very first blog.
Your parents might read your writing and then there might be some awkward conversations. Erg. Years ago– it might have been my first year of blogging, my mom had read one of my posts and said, “Honey, don’t you think some things are better left unsaid?” And my first reaction was No. In terms of this– this platform I have where I tell the truth about my life, the messy parts, the great parts and everything in between–I don’t think there are things I should cover up. I know what she was saying, and in her defense, she comes from a different generation where you always “put your best foot forward” and she and I are just different like that. So please know that if you write, or even podcast, you run the risk of people you care about like your family, or co-workers, neighbors, your kids, really ANYONE might read or listen to your work. Be prepared.
This whole journey has been incredible. I look forward to more decades of truth telling, and growing along side with all of you.
Resources from this episode:
YKAL Mentorship Interest List
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