All Posts in “Writing”

The Labour (or Wordcount) Theory of Blogging

One of the most pervasive and incorrect ideas that holds people back professionally is that the value of a product or service is determined by the amount of work that went into making it (the Labour Theory of Value).

There is a similar fallacy about blogging that shows up in the fear of short blog posts.

The value of a blog post has nothing to do with its length. Even though most people know this, when they start blogging they feel afraid to write short blog poss.

Your blog is a medium to communicate ideas. The less time and work it takes to communicate those ideas the better.

Day # 90

Today is the last day of my blogging challenge. For the last ninety days, I’ve published a post every single day. Since today is the end of the challenge, it makes a ton of sense to do a review post.

Something like nine things I learned blogging for 90 days.

But, like so many of posts I’ve written, I don’t have time to dedicate to a big topic based looking backward.

It’s actually kind of fitting because a TON of the blog posts I’ve written were last minute, simple, one thought posts. 11:00 pm, dying to go to sleep but “shit, I’ve got to publish something” blog posts.

So, what was the one big thing that comes from writing a blog every day for 90 days?

For me it’s evidence. Ninety days of blogging gives me a lot of evidence about the way I work and live.

As far as writing goes, I can see that my attention is not very focused. My ability to plan and act on prior plans is not as good as I want it to be. I started a number of blog series that I haven’t finished. I had a number of ideas that I could only follow through with in a small way. After seeing this in my writing, I am more motivated to change it.

Ninety days of blogging also gives me evidence about myself. It has shown me that I feel a lot better when I’m creating daily. Getting creative release. In another post, I related the feeling of creative constipation that comes when I’m not exploring ideas and writing them out. I am so much happier when I create every day.

The last thing is a question that comes up after finishing ninety days of blogging. I know that I work better with all or nothing rules. Writing every day feels a lot easier for me to follow than writing three articles a week. But, I feel a lot better when I produce a longer, more deeply thought out articles. So it is a question of how I want to continue as I move forward.

The answer I want to explore is setting a daily time for writing. Instead of hitting publish every day I’m going to write for one hour every day. The goal being to create three posts a week, but have longer, deeper posts because I am taking more time to put them together.

One Year Blog-iversary | 139 Posts Later

One year ago today, I was sitting at a Starbucks on Peachtree Street in Atlanta. I had finished work at FEE and walked up to Starbucks to get some work done on the curriculum for the first month of Praxis.

At the time the first month was about digital skills. The deliverable was launching a personal website and writing an intro post about our personal brand.

And so I wrote this.

Three hundred and sixty-five days and one hundred and thirty-nine posts later a lot has changed.

Writing a post has gone from a marathon task of battling procrastination over multiple days, to something I have done for the last 84 days in a row. I can now confidently turn and idea into a publishable blog post in 30ish minutes.

My writing has improved, but my standards have also dropped immensely. One of my first posts addressed the fear and unrealistic standards that led me to avoid writing for so long. How perfection had become a prison for me.

About a month later I had a story go viral on Medium. 40,000 people read it.

Two months later Huffington Post reached out to me about republishing my articles.

And now, one year later I’ve moved away from Atlanta, spent a summer in Canada, and am finally preparing for the next adventure.

A lot is going to be changing. We’re flying to Singapore in ten days and will be spending the winter working and traveling in Asia.

What won’t be changing is my commitment to regularly producing content.

This adventure will be great material for the podcast and for this blog. Over the next year I’ll have some amazing stories to share, and hopefully some new and valuable insights.

Writing for me is a creative release. When I go for a week without writing out an idea, I get creatively constipated, and I start to go crazy.

I haven’t monetized my blog, I haven’t generated much traffic to my site, I haven’t become a well-known blogger, but I have improved a shitload, learned a lot about myself, and improved my thinking on a bunch of topics. The value of 139 blog posts has been the internal effects. One year later I look back and just wish I had started sooner.

Why we Podcast

My blog post for today (Day 29 in a row if you’re keeping track at home) is over at The World Wanderers website.

My goal for this post was two-fold:

  1. Tell the story of why we started a travel podcast
  2. Create a post with good SEO for the words travel podcast so that people can find us when they are googling.


What John Cena Can Teach You About Persuasion

Starting at the one minute mark of this video John Cena delivers some persuasion genius.

In case you missed it, John Cena hosted the ESPY’s this year. Not a lot of people were excited about it. John Cena the jorts-wearing WWE guy… hosting a show? That not’s exciting.

So John Cena had a problem going in. No one was excited to see him in this role. The host is supposed to be funny, but of all the associations you might have with Cena, funny is not one of them.

John Cena went out, and within a minute and a half had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand.

What he did is one of the most important lessons you can learn as a copywriter or someone who needs to persuade anyone.

He openly addressed objections. 

Okay, I get it. Tension in the room. Let’s just address it. Why the hell did they get me to host this thing?

The Greatest Stationary on Earth

I think better when I write by hand. It is relaxing, therapeutic, and the extra time required to write the actual words allows me to think clearer. But, writing by hand can be a pain in the ass if you use any old piece of paper and any pen.

Since I spend anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours a day writing with pen and paper I have invested some serious time in finding the best pens and paper.

I’ve scoured the internet for pen and paper blogs, read reviews and purchased countless numbers of journals and pens. Two affordable Japenese items stand above the rest.

The Uniball Jetstream 0.7 MM Rubber Bodied Pen (buy replacement ink when you purchase the pens)

The Maruman Mnemosyne Special Memo Notepad

Apparently, Japenese pens and paper are better because of the more intricate writing style. This could be bullshit, but these are both inexpensive Japenese products that blow away anything even three times as expensive that you’d find in the U.S.

Give them a try. Your welcome.

Schelling Points and Goal Setting

There is a game theory concept called Schelling points that I find very applicable to personal goal setting.

A Schelling Point is a point that is mutually recognizable between two or more people without talking. Picture an X’s and O’s board. All the squares are clear except for one with an X. If you gave this picture to two people sitting separate rooms, and asked them to pick a spot that the person in the other room will pick, odds are they both pick the spot with the X.

This spot is distinct, unique. And it provides a clear distinction from all other options. It is a point that is easy to agree upon.

Points like this are important in negotiations. If you pull out a map of the U.S. or Europe and look at the borders between states and countries you can see that many of the borders are rivers. Rivers are perfect Schelling points. It is just easier to say you get that side of the river, and I get this side than to try and get a border 5 feet to the east of the river.

If I agree to let you have 5 feet on my side of the river what is to prevent you from later coming back and saying that you want an extra 15 feet. I’ve sacrificed the natural divide, and now it is easier to justify taking more land.

Schelling points are important in negotiations, and they are a helpful way to think about setting up your own life, or negotiating with your future self.

For me, writing every day is an important part of my personal development. The main thing I want to do is to spend time writing, but that is a bit abstract. It isn’t concrete. Publishing one post a day is absolutely concrete. It is clear. There is no wiggle room.

Had I decided to write for an hour each day it would be very easy to cut short to 50 minutes one day. Then, maybe a few days later I might only do 45. Maybe one day I would only have time for 30. It’s still writing, and it’s easier to justify.

Writing one hour a day isn’t a great Schelling point, but publishing a post once a day is.

It is very clear. It is either yes or no. There is no half measure. There is no way to let the commitment slip. It is a simple and clear divide between meeting my goal or not.

When setting goals, instead of thinking about what you would choose to have happened in a perfect would, set goals with the clearest distinction between success and failure that is possible.

Cold turkey is often more effective than easing off of a habit because it provides a clear Schelling point. There is an obvious distinction between success and failure. There is no slippery slope. It is either yes or no.

School Ruins Writers

We are waiting for a connecting flight to Calgary, Alberta. Standing in the Montreal airport, in a book and convenience store like you can find in every modern airport. Everything is clean, well organized, and incredibly well lit. Against the background of the white floor, the white walls, and the fluorescent light, the colors of the candy on the cashier’s kiosk catch your eye. Lime green Sourpatch kids, blue Mike and Ike’s. Beyond the cashier’s kiosk, towards the back corner of the store the walls are lined with the bestsellers in fiction and nonfiction. On a table in front of the bestsellers, a bright red hardcover is proudly displayed — Flash Boys — the newest book by Michael Lewis.

Lewis is probably the most popular non-fiction author of the last 15 years. Before Flash Boys, there was The Big Short. Before the Big Short, there was The Blind Side. Before The Blind Side, there was Moneyball. When you write nonfiction and you’ve had three books turned into movies, you know something there is something special about these books.

Large, red, hardcover copies of Flash Boys face out in all directions. There have been news stories about Flash Boys leading up to its release. There was a controversy brewing about Michael Lewis’s take on the world of high-frequency trading.

I picked up a copy and turned it over to see if there was a description on the back. The publisher’s description was on the inside of the book jacket, but on the back were the comments from other authors and popular figures. Flash Boys had one of the best comments I’d ever seen, from Malcolm Gladwell:

“I read Michael Lewis for the same reason I watch Tiger Woods. I’ll never play like that. But it’s good to be reminded what genius looks like.”

When Malcolm Gladwell calls a writer a genius, they must be pretty damn good.

So what is it that makes Michael Lewis so damn good?

What Writers Can Learn from Movies

Good writing is mostly not about actually writing. It took me 26 years to figure this out.

We think of the act of writing, of actually typing the words into a computer, or writing on a page, as the most important part of the writing process. But, as I am slowly learning it may actually be the least important part.