This is the second piece in a series called The Game of Writing. To read the first piece, click here.
“Escape competition through authenticity.” – Naval Ravikant
For anything worth having, there’s going to be competition. That said, most people don’t actually know what they’re doing. They just grab a hold of the person in front of them and follow suit. So while everyone else is stuck jockeying for position for the low hanging fruit, you should learn the space and make your own path.
You can avoid competition through authenticity.
“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
The standard progression
I think most new bloggers, depending on niche, go through a pretty typical progression. They start by just testing things out. Maybe some shorter posts or minimal formatting. Then they start figuring out what works and what doesn’t. They might find their niche. Their posts become a bit better. And so on.
The thing about short posts is that if they’re too short it can result in unoriginal content that’s unlikely to gain much traction. For example, I like to write about motivation, mindset, positivity, life, and all that good stuff. But as I’m sure you know, the internet is bursting at the seams with the same positive platitudes shamelessly parroted by everyone interested in the space.
While I understand why this might annoy some people, to me it’s perfectly reasonable and I get it. It’s just people in the early stages of posting, experimenting and seeing what works. But it’s like taking a picture of a page in a book – that’s nice and all… But it’s not your content.
If you take a positive platitude, slap a couple sentences underneath, and call it an article, there is a legitimate chance that what you just wrote may already exist verbatim. This isn’t me trying to be a buzzkill, I just think it’s an interesting way to think about it and it’s important to realize. The shorter the piece, the less time you have to differentiate yourself from others. It takes time to develop your ideas and cross into uncharted territories. One of the ways to set yourself apart is through authenticity.
If there’s one thing you’re better than anyone else in the world at, it’s being you.
That idea may seem trite, but it’s true.
Writing leverages authenticity
Writing is the perfect medium to leverage this idea. Pick a topic, it can be the most common thing in the world. There could be a billion different pieces already written about it. However, if you think authentically, act creatively, experiment fearlessly, and follow the things that pique your interest; an original piece will be born.
I think of it like a thread. Have you ever been researching something when all of the sudden you get distracted and start down a whole different rabbit whole? Only to snap out of it five minutes later to realize that you just wasted a bunch of time?
Well what if it wasn’t a waste of time at all? What if following your mind as it crosses through different ideas is a great way to produce interesting content unique to you?
Or perhaps not.
Metacognition is the awareness of one’s own thought processes. Watching our attention and seeing which way it pulls us allows us to uncover connections we wouldn’t have otherwise noticed. Instead of seeing it as a negative thing, transmute it into a positive.
There’s a fine line between procrastination and creativity. However, I think it’s fair to say that creativity can spawn from procrastination.
It’s so easy to fall into cookie cutter templates, top ten lists, or outright copying others. I don’t mean to imply that there’s anything wrong with these; imitation is how we learn and innovate. Not to mention that we’re all doing it in one way or another. That said, I do believe that progressing into a more authentic style that can better capture your unique perspectives is the goal – or at least our first mountain.
Writing, like anything else, is a skill. You learn as you go and get better with practice. You could sit there and think and theorize about writing 12 hours a day, but until you take that first step and start executing, you’re just stalling. Writing can be a vast journey that spans decades. But as with many things, starting can be the hardest part.
It’s like staying at a base camp and acclimating. They have a bunch of great resources, facilities, and support. You’ve read all the books, taken all of the classes, and you’re comfortable. But you know that eventually you have to get out there and go. You have to take that leap of faith. To put yourself out there, step into the arena, and accept everything that comes with it.
You’re here because you want to climb the mountain. You want to experience that journey, but the comforts and the illusions of progress can be paralyzing. You’ll always have a million excuses not to do something, but all you need is one good reason to.
Start small. Start slow. Begin with the fundamentals and build from there. Learn from others. Use your favorite pieces as templates or as inspiration. Eventually you will grow into your own as a writer and you’ll start to experiment with you own unique styles and perspectives.
Once you’ve started, you’ll start finding answers to questions you never knew you had.
At least this is the process I’ve followed so far, and it’s served me well.
This is the second in a 3 part piece called “So you want to become a blogger.” The final part will be “Creativity”. I’ve chosen to release them as three separate pieces and then I will release a final version with all of them together as one. I’ll release part 3 tomorrow then release the full piece. Follow me to keep up to date. Thank you everyone for the positive feedback. As always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, I encourage you to share your thoughts. Thanks for reading!