Isn’t it better to recycle your articles instead of writing all the time? Why do you have to keep writing articles?
A tiny bit of recycling may not be out of place, but there’s a good reason why we should keep writing new articles all the time.
Well, here are my reasons anyway—Why I keep writing articles (despite having written for 22 years).
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I often have clients who ask me why I keep writing.
It's been a while, they say. Why don't you simply recycle your articles and send them out as newsletters? The question is so frequent, that I had to go back a bit, to when I first started writing. And why I still write today.
Here are the reasons:
1) I started writing articles mainly to create a factor of expertise.
Usually, when you read an article, report or book and find it interesting, you tend to want to read more. That writer becomes the person whose perspective, style or explanation you enjoy.
Let me give you an example: When I was in college, I often went to the movies. However, there were a lot of movies that other columnists recommended and weren't to my liking. I probably missed out on others because I'd blown up the money on the “dud” movies.
At this point, I ran into a column by a movie critic.
I found that his tastes and mine matched. It wasn't that his choice was impeccable. It was just that we had quite a similar taste in movies. In my opinion, he was “my expert on movies”. If I took his advice, I'd have a great afternoon, which worked well for me.
It's how many of us feel when we read, listen, or watch something. We decide we have our own “experts”, and we follow them, buy stuff from them, go to their events etc. I was completely unknown and not even known as a marketer.
I felt confident as a copywriter and cartoonist, yet marketing was still very much where I felt like an impostor. I wanted to create a factor of expertise so that prospects who saw work would say, “Yes, I'd like to work with that person because he has a point of view that appeals to me. That's my kind of expert”. But that's only the primary reason. The second reason I figured out only a bit later.
2) Talk is cheaper.
Writing is hard. If someone interviews me on a topic, I can give an answer slightly all over the place, and it will still be considered a good answer. The questions, too, can be here, there and everywhere, and the interview would pass muster.
However, when writing an article, a rambling answer is not acceptable.
There has to be structure—at the very least—even if there's no great insight. Hence, article writing forces you to understand what makes writing so difficult and more accessible for some.
Writers who do well in life have had to learn their craft.
Or they have been taught how to put their thoughts together coherently. However, that's not the main reason to write. When you write, you take the ideas constantly floating around in your head and make them work on paper.
Many years ago, for instance, I was considering the idea of attraction and conversion. It struck me, at that point, that no one was paying attention to consumption. What is consumption? Simply described, it's like going to a restaurant. When you see the sign and the menu outside, that's “attraction”. Then, when you sit down and order, that's “conversion”.
However, let's say you never eat the meal or just a tiny portion and leave almost all the rest. What are the chances that you'll eat that meal again? Or even go back to the restaurant? Hence, the main reason we go back repeatedly is because we had a great experience. It makes us want to go back repeatedly.
It's approximately the same principle that we use at Psychotactics.
A course may cost a client $3000 or $4000. Their main goal isn't to get more information. They want to gain a skill. They want to become good cartoonists, good writers, or outstanding at creating a sales page.
As a concept, the idea floats randomly in my brain. Writing it down allows me to think about it thoroughly. When something is in “print”, that's when you see how it looks. It's harder to write than to just think about something because writing needs coherence and structure. You need to think things through.
Without putting my thoughts on paper, I find ideas going forward, backwards, and even sideways. I write to clear my mind and to improve my structure.
This idea of putting things down doesn't just apply to writing.
I have written and drawn about 3500 watercolours that most people have never seen. I have taken close to 23,000 photos in the past two years, most of which have been done to improve how I see things.
You do it for yourself: to clear your brain, understand your ideas, and create a structure.
3) The third reason I write is to stop my work from decaying.
There was a time about ten years ago when I stopped writing. A week passed, two weeks, a month, two months, and three months crawled by. I'd look at my computer and couldn't bring myself to write. You could say I wasn't a good writer, or at least I thought so, which is why I stopped writing.
However, that's not the case at all. I'm very competent at drawing cartoons, yet a few months can pass when I don't feel like drawing. And it's not just writers or artists, but everyone. Chefs don't feel like cooking, and sportspeople lose their enthusiasm. It's not for want of skill but because there's a sense of decay.
When you stop, you don't stand still. Instead, there is a feeling of going backwards.
The first few attempts are clumsy when I finally start writing, drawing, cooking, etc.
However, it's the way out of the hole. The best method is to never get in the mess in the first place.
And here's a story from 2003.
I'd just started writing regularly, but it would take me two or three days to write a single article. I'd just started a membership site called 5000bc back then (and yes, it's still going). One of the goals of creating the site was to answer clients' questions on various marketing topics.
However, the secondary goal was to stop the feeling of decay that was already a bit overwhelming. The articles I wrote took me so long to complete, and I could only write two a month. I decided I would write five articles a week in 5000bc. I'd gone from writing two articles a month to between 20-25 a month. I had to get creative and had to have a system.
I couldn't be frivolous about how I went about writing.
And then, in 2014, when we started the podcast, I had to take another leap. Usually, I wrote short articles which were about 800 words, but the podcast needed scripts that were 3000-5000 words in length. For two whole years, I struggled to get control of my writing so much. Yet, today, I can write a 3000-word article in a single morning.
Writing is something we all wish to have control over.
We grow up wanting to speak, draw and write. Ignoring this basic need is something that gnaws at us as we move through life. It's much better, instead, to learn to write and then write regularly.