About three years ago Ben Rennie, CEO of the innovation lab 6.2, invited me to write for Uncluttered White Spaces. I had never written publicly before and wasn’t sure whether I had anything worthwhile to say or could in fact write in a coherent and entertaining way. But I wanted to try.
So I set two conditions for my involvement:
- I write under a pseudonym
- Whatever I write gets published unedited, even if it is bloody awful.
I explained to Ben that I wasn’t that interested in getting a personal profile from my blogging activities but I was happy to share my experiences, ideas and insights gleaned from my 25 years in business. I also wanted the “full” experience of writing including being ridiculed if I wrote garbage, hence the no-editing rule. I figured this was the quickest way to get better.
Ben agreed to this but insisted that he write a bio for me that explained my involvement and the approach that I would be taking. So he wrote – “The Bull is a weekly feature writer for uncluttered white spaces. He writes under a pseudonym to make a point. It is not about notoriety, but the sharing of powerful ideas that spread, without the expectation of anything in return.”
I thought the bio was kind of funny at first but Ben obviously saw something that I didn’t. Firstly he knew that ideas, some of which will be powerful, will spread as long as you are prepared to share them. Secondly, it’s not about gaining anything financially. The reward comes from knowing that you’re sharing ideas and experiences that people find useful and motivating.
I found out quickly that it’s not easy writing an “interesting” article every week (especially for 3 years straight). Many times I would have preferred to let a week or two drift by without writing. But I knew that I’d feel bad later so I always found the time. I’m glad I did too because, after nearly 200 articles, I have been richly rewarded (emotionally) for my efforts.
So what have I learned from my writing experience? Here are a few things.
- The middle ground should be avoided. Be prepared to express a view – even if it is unpopular.
- Write from your own personal experiences and don’t be phony.
- Be (highly) disciplined – many times I have forced myself to write an article when I was exhausted, sick or so busy I couldn’t scratch myself. But I got still my article out.
- Critics are useful and you can learn a lot from them.
- Don’t take any of it too seriously. If readers enjoy it – great. If they don’t, they can always press delete.
Whatever else get out there and have a red-hot go. The worst thing that can happen is that no-one reads what you write. The best thing is that your ideas could spread and make a difference and that’s never a bad thing…
Featured image by Jack Crossing