Chris Herd

@ChrisHerd

5 Hacks I Used to Become a Top Writer in 7 Categories on Medium

I’ve published some form of written piece every weekday for the last year, give or take a few off days. Here’s how I managed to do it and what I have learned.

1 — Stop Caring What People Think

People only started caring about what I had to stay when I stopped writing what I thought they wanted to read

Instead of tailoring stories to my preconceived notions about what other people expected I focused on writing about what fascinated me and the things I wanted to learn about and explore.

If people never read an article or didn’t respond positively to it I never let it stop me or slow me down

I don’t pay attention to the stats because I don’t care

If something was widely read, becomes viral and bringst value to a wide number of people great, if it isn’t consumed by anyone and only enabled me to explore a topic in my mind to me that is equally positive.

Write for yourself and your audience will love the unique insights you are able to provideTry to be someone else and they will leave the party as soon as the lights come on because they will realise you are a fraud.

2 — Stop Editing

I used to agonise over the message I published

I whittled away words, destroyed my work a single word at a time as I edited away both the intelligent insights and misplaced words.

Obviously any writing has to clear a certain threshold of literary correctness to be legible, but anything above that is unnecessary

Instead of wasting time on perfecting the formatting or grammar of your message just release your writing to the wild and watch how it acts. You can edit on the fly and make any necessary changes other highlight.

My writing is now a minimum viable product

I began to think of my writing as a living breathing thing which could evolve and grow over time

We progress through life constantly changing, why can’t our writing do so as well? I would far rather release something that wasn’t perfect, creating a feedback loop and discussion, then destroy a piece of writing by removing too much content.

If you remove too much you will never know how great your writing could have been, whereas if you release your work to a platform like medium you can understand which parts reader have an affinity with. This enables you to understand the parts of your writing which you at excel at while identifying weaknesses you would never have discovered.

Editing is the act of precise destruction

Instead of risking eradication of my best work I release a piece and return to the message at a later date. I cannibalise earlier pieces of writing by stealing snippets and expanding on the areas I have acquired new knowledge.

But remember you are improving for you

If other people enjoy what you write as a by product of your own pleasure then perfect, but it shouldn’t be your goal.

3 — Just do it

Unsurprisingly in order to write more I simply wrote more, but the simplicity of that belies the difficulty of finding time to do so.

To find time to write I became less precious

People view their writing as their baby but I never have, I have always felt like the words I write are borrowed.

I arrange them but they are owned in a different way by each individual who consumes them. The message is conveyed within whatever personal context you have read them and how you have ascribed personal meaning

This frees me from the shackles of paralysis due to worry about people’s perception.

  • Instead of worrying I write
  • Instead of editing I write.
  • Instead of agonising over topics I write
  • I just begin and see where it goes.

So I write a lot

Only quantity leads to quality

In life quantity always trumps quality because only quantity leads to mastery.

Think about Picasso

It’s important to understand that though he was a genius only a proportion of his work was viewed as such. Let’s assume only 10% of his work was ‘great’.

If that strike rate holds true for the rest of humanity the only difference is output

If I produce 1,000 articles and you write 10 I produce 100 ‘great writings’ while you only have 1

4 — Stop Being Defensive

I realise I have been wrong a lot

Instead of wasting time trying to rationalise my thought process I move on and expand my thinking.

I don’t let my current limitations or the inadequacies prevent my evolution

Being wrong is a gift, if you can recognise it, because it allows you the opportunity to alter your mind set and grow. If you can’t admit you aren’t always going to be right, you never will be. Your writing will never improve.

To avoid this I play devils advocate with myself

I expose myself to unfamiliar materials and open my mind to the alternative of the opinions that I hold hold dear. I play devil’s advocate and develop an understanding, if not an empathy, of the contradiction of my own beliefs.

By opening my mind to the antithesis of my thinking I can uncover holes in my reasoning. Only by understanding the problems with my thinking can I improve and develop it.

I never become so entrenched in my beliefs that I would defend them blindly, by understanding the reasons against an argument I try to become cognisant of other people’s perceptions and reasons

When I receive negative comments to my writing I embrace them as learning opportunities. By doing so and not acting defensively, you afford yourself the chance to improve.

5 — Develop Your Own Style

In order to be great you have to be you

Never sacrifice your own voice or you’ll lose authenticity. Be unashamedly you and accept some people won’t like it. You have to be brave and open yourself to the fact that not everyone will love everything you do.

Act first and apologise later, people are more understanding if you post-rationalise what you have said instead of asking for permission.

Write first and apologise later.

Most of all have fun, if you’re not enjoying anything in life what is the point in continuing?

I write because I love doing it. That accolades come is irrelevant. It might feel good to be recognised for hard work, but it should never be your intention.

To succeed all I had to was stop worrying about what people thought.

All it takes is one moment of bravery

What do you have to lose?

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