Creating a Weekly Writing Practice
Nearly every day, I write.
I sit down at a desk. Or on a couch. Or in a cafe. Or on a flight. And I take 10–30 minutes to write about anything and everything. What happened that day. How things are going. What things are working or breaking. What I’m learning along the way.
I don’t have to write a lot. 250 words. At least.
Every once in awhile, I miss. And on the weekends, I only write once.
Taken from one of my favorite places to write…the sky.
The first person to see these writings is my writing partner, Dane Johnson. You can read about our daily wager here. We’ve kept this rhythm relatively steady for nearly four years.
CHOOSING WHICH WRITINGS TO SHARE
Each week, I look to the next few Wednesdays and think about which writings might be most beneficial or interesting to you — friends, Ei alum, peers, leaders, and onlookers. I try not to overthink it. As much as I hope you find these writings helpful, I really write because I believe writing is one of the most powerful ways to process my days, tell stories, and share ideas, so I need to practice. But I also want to build a community of people who care about the future of education and workforce development, and who are striving to improve our world. So, I often keep these three principles in mind when writing:
- Authenticity: Write in my own voice. Don’t try to be someone else.
- Consistency: Show up each week. Even if you don’t feel like it. That’s how you get better and that’s when some of your best work emerges.
- Transparency: Share all facets of life and work. Not just the shiny stuff. Show the process of building, the relationships, the successes, the mistakes. This builds lasting relationships and empowers others.
There are weeks where everything I’ve written is a bit too personal, so I have to start from scratch in the eleventh hour — which takes me back to the college days of late-night assignments with electronica music playing and a dimly lit desk lamp standing next to a half-eaten turkey sandwich.
No matter what, by Tuesday evening, I send one or two pieces to Aaron and Katie — my colleagues and friends at Experience Institute. Sometimes I include a few other friends depending on the topic. I share the writings via Google Docs so they can make corrections and content suggestions.
FINALIZING THE WORDS
I read their suggestions and usually apply all of them. I’m rarely happy with the final piece. My writing ability still hasn’t matched my taste (thanks Ira Glass). But, I’ve committed to shipping something each week, so we move the words over to Mailchimp, our software for sending email, and send a test on Tuesday/Wednesday to make sure everything looks and works correctly.
“You can only write regularly if you’re willing to write badly… Accept bad writing as a way of priming the pump, a warm-up exercise that allows you to write well.”
— Jennifer Egan
SHARING ACROSS PLATFORMS
As the email gets finalized, I prepare to syndicate the words via Medium, Linkedin, Twitter & Facebook. I also add the piece to my personal blog which is more for me than anyone else. Katie and I block Wednesday mornings to do the final polishing and posting. Typically 8am-10am.
Then we schedule to send between 10am-1pm.
The email is read by 1,500–2,000 people each week, not including the readers who read the words on social platforms.
I don’t worry too much about growing that number, nor do I measure the ROI of the hours I spend. I began writing because I genuinely enjoy it. And I believe sharing a few helpful lessons and experiences is a meaningful thing I can do for and with you as Ei continues exploring how to improve the future of education and the workplace.
So, thanks to Dane, Aaron, and Katie for making this happen each week. And thank you for reading this note in your inbox, on Medium, or Facebook. This is as much for you as it is for me. And I’m grateful to share this space with you each week.
Now I’m curious, do you write? Why? How often? And do you post your writings?
If you have a practice, share it. And if you want to create one, let me know what it might look like.
If I’ve learned anything throughout the past few years, it’s that a little writing goes a long way.
“In the wholeheartedness of concentration, world and self begin to cohere. With that state comes an enlarging: of what may be known, what may be felt, what may be done.”
— Jane Hirshfield