Each day the inbox fills with several emails from people I’ve subscribed to. There are the fitness coaches who send in emails about fat loss or strength training, tweaked slightly to make it seem new and exciting. A few emails come from internet marketers who I subscribed to as a way to learn how to better promote myself because one day, I hope to make enough money that I can disappear off the face of the map. Then there are the life coaches, motivational training coaches, and writing coaches who send, actually I don’t know what they send. Most of the time, I delete the entirety of the emails sent to me each morning. Rarely does a subject line capture my attention in which I have no other choice but to open it and see just what the wind blew in.
As someone who enjoys the craft of writing, I spend a great deal of my free time trying to get better. Each day I practice this art and write stories about Fred the Pot Smoking Cat or my dog Cooper, or fat loss, or writing, or the muse being on vacation smoking cuban cigars with a cocktail, garnished with a lemon or orange, sometimes a mint leaf. Other days I write stories and blog posts about motivation and how to not be a quitter in life. Some of the most read writings of mine are about how I used to be homeless and what I did to climb out of rock bottom, to become a normal person just chasing the dream. I also enjoy writing stories of my experiences in the float tanks.
Every day I embrace my love for reading and writing and I do enjoy following those people who I subscribe to. The only thing is, most people resort to list posts and it’s driving me nuts. I get it though. Writing is torture. There are moments when we want to sit down and express ourselves in a way that makes you, the reader, interested in what we’re writing about, but words just don’t come out. We sit in front of the screen scratching our heads, wondering where the muse went, if he was still on vacation, and when we’ll get an idea worth sharing. The easiest thing to do is write a blog post or email that is a list. 10 Reasons Why You Need A Vacation. 5 Ways Floating Changed My Life. 1600 Ways to Make a Woman Love You.
I see very popular blog sites that share almost exclusively list posts. It’s quite pathetic actually. It’s the easy way out of doing a hard thing. I’m not saying these posts are bad or that we shouldn’t write them (they are an essential part of writing practice), but there has to come a time when you put your skills to work and write like you mean it. If I wanted to, and I have, I could write out a blog post everyday with a new list..
6 Ways to Open a Fitness Center.
100 Ways to Kick Ass and Live Happy.
36 Things You Don’t Know About Baseball.
55 Things To Do on Vacation.
They’re so easy that when we succumb to “writer’s block” or for better words, a lack of preparation, practice, and skill, we can throw a list post together in 10 minutes. Our hungry for more, fast paced, ADHD society sucks that content up and shares it faster than you post it because it’s easy to skim through and get a nugget of helpful info (usually which is forgotten about 72 seconds later). But, you’re not making yourself better.
When I look back through this blog, I see the list posts I’ve created and I understand why I did them. They were written at points in time where I wasn’t practicing, I was rushing, I was dealing with “writer’s block”, and just felt like getting content out into cyberspace. Those posts are not the posts that improve my writing or mindset. Posts like What I am Afraid Of or Summer Air are posts that help me get better at writing. Stories, ideas, dreams turned into words on the screen. That is what makes you better.
Writing is a brutal art that many people think is easy. It never was. Practice is needed just like practice is needed for Tom Brady to throw several touchdown passes a week. Taking time out of your busy schedule to write about nothing, or maybe the room you sit in, or the cat named Fred who sits in your house and eats all of your Chips Ahoy cookies, is needed for improvement of writing skill. Reading books on the craft of writing by people like William Zinsser or Natalie Goldberg are important to your creative process as well. By simply resorting to list posts on your blog or website you fail to show your true skill and purpose of writing (and while they might go viral, you, the author, is forgotten quickly). More and more people who claim to be writer’s or who love writing are not putting in the effort needed to be magnificent, and neither am I.
I’m not saying that list posts are bad, in fact, they have benefits, but to improve your skills as a writer you need to get deeper inside of who you are and why you want to write. Getting paid as a writer will happen through list posts, but to be memorable and honorable, it might be time to share stories that move people, that motivate people, that entice people to want more. Sure more people will be interested in reading posts that have headlines like “23 Ways to Jumpstart Your Fat Loss” but their real attention won’t be present.
Begin your writing session by taking ten minutes to simply let yourself go. Be free from ideas or agendas. Write about your sore legs or the weather outside. Write about your workout, your daily routine at work, the commute home from a long day, or even your life goals. This is practice and the using a timed writing practice will get the mind working creatively. That is what you want. You want your creative expression to come to life. You want your ideas to begin to pour out in the screen or pad and it takes some time to get the process rolling. One day you might practice for the ten minutes and have nothing left. So be it. Move on. One day you might start the ten minutes and within two you have a brilliant idea with something worth sharing. So be it. Grab that idea and let it flow. So many people have told us content is king, and it is, but rushed content or content lacking a true purpose is wasteful. Of the 400 or 500 blog posts I wrote, I’d take back more than half as they’re rushed lists with no purpose other than a click to my website. True art can never be rushed. True art takes work. Practice makes perfect.