If You Want to Survive The Grind As A New Writer, You Need To Adopt These 7 Practices

If You Want to Survive The Grind As A New Writer, You Need To Adopt These 7 Practices


If You Want to Survive The Grind As A New Writer, You Need To Adopt These 7 Practices

It’s a jungle out there. Adopt, then build your own practices.

Breathe. I often have to remind myself. And not just when I am climbing mountains.

  • Ideas to be captured, research to be completed. Check, check.
  • Topics to shortlist, outlines to make. Check, check.
  • Articles to write, edit and publish. Check, check and check. (Whew!)

My writing skill has been turned inside out. If I want to get better, that’s the only way. And while you are busy grinding, someone else is ‘effortlessly’ going viral. It is crushing. 

As a new writer, you are 20 Leagues under the sea. The immense pressure doesn’t let you surface. You are running out of breath; what do you do?

First, Set Some Filters

I have been active on Twitter for the last year and a half. Tweets on productivity, writing and capturing ideas attracted me. Threads on creating a second brain, daily posting habits, and going into monk mode seemed enticing.

Routines so insane that I am lost.

LinkedIn, another platform, has similar content in carousels and longer posts by the thousands.

Writing advice across platforms and accounts is a lot to consider when you are a beginner creator. It pushes you and pulls you in different directions.

Confusion reigns.

Everyone you look up to as a guide has been at it for several years. Yet, hardly anyone talks about the serious overwhelm they experienced as new writers. We see the results of their hard work –  the money and client numbers, the followers and how they are launching a third course.

As a beginner, filtering the trees you need from the woods you don’t is key. 

It is not perfect or quick, but it’s a workable system you can start with if you have nothing of your own.

I have settled in for the long haul. Here is how it works.

1. Churn The Accounts You Follow

When you begin, following every account with at least one article, post or tweet you like is tempting. Advice for new writers is popular.

It is natural. Your subconscious points you to people who say what you want to hear — valid or not.

You must keep reading what they write over time to see if that’s a pattern or a fluke. It might seem like you’re on an endless treadmill initially, but this is the base building you must do.

If a pattern emerges over two months of reading their content, the profile is a keeper.

Here are ten signs you can look for in a profile worth following:

  1.  Frequently shares practical advice.
  2.  Talks about topics, sub-niches you are looking to learn
  3. Shows both pros and cons — for tools, systems or frameworks
  4.  Shows more than tells
  5. Connects unobvious ideas
  6.  Does not make tall time x money claims
  7.  Does not seem desperate to sell their product/service
  8. Engages with you if you initiate conversation.
  9.  Shares the same idea in many different ways.
  10.  You love their newsletters

The last thing you should check is their follower count. They mention it often enough.

Use these simple filters to see whose writing delivers the most value for you and who stands out as clickbait.

For want of a better idea, I followed a bunch of profiles across platforms for almost eight months before I culled the accounts. Next, I created a list of profiles whose tweets I never want to miss on Twitter.

Not that the others were bad but I wasn’t learning from them.

Now, I am in a steady ‘relationship’ with these select folks and learning daily. It keeps me focused on the content I can apply and skips the noise.

2. Manage Information Overload

The struggle to capture everything you want to learn from these wise folks is huge. They post frequently, and if you miss it, it’s gone.

And then, you need to organise their posts, tweets or videos to retrieve them quickly when needed.

Remember that it is a game of trial and error. I have developed my system patiently so that I would not have to spend time reinventing it.

Try These tools

Play around with a few information capture and organisation tools before you decide what works.

I started with the humble pen and paper before a Google sheet attracted me. Then I moved on to Obsidian because someone suggested it in a learning cohort I participated in. Obsidian is a terrific mind-mapping tool and works offline as a native app on your PC.

For Apple users, Notes is what everyone swears by. Evernote has been a pioneer in the never forget anything space. Folks on LinkedIn rave about Notion, so I gave that a go.

Remember to try them one after the other, not all at once. If not, it’ll only increase your dilemma.

My system has evolved to use a mix of a few of these only after I had used the tools for over a month each. Don’t rock the boat too much is apt advice for new writers

3. Capture Writing Ideas

­A topic or an idea you want to write about can come to you anytime. And the best way to ensure you don’t rely on memory for recall is to take notes. You can use pen and paper. A simple copy-paste will do if something strikes you as you read on the PC. Or if you have your mobile handy, voice notes or quick notations in a notes app.

I don’t always have my phone, but I have a pen and paper. So, I jot down topic ideas as soon as possible and then digitise them.

Google sheet is a nifty tool to track writing ideas and projects. A lot of people, including me, write down ideas as headlines. They may not make the final cut, but they are one-line stories of future articles.

It is my go-to store of ideas and a dashboard of where I am at in developing them. It includes all my projects –personal writing, work assignments, other content projects and their respective status.

Having a single repository is essential. Transfer all your audio notes, scribbles or items from the Notes tool to this sheet.

4. Organise Your Ideas

Once the sheet tells me what I have on my plate, I can plan my time and day accordingly. Most importantly, I can decide on my heavy and light workload days. My writing process has evolved to let me breathe in between projects since I switched to this system.

I often abandon ideas because they no longer seem exciting. I use these statuses to mark my action — Published, Work-in-progress, Submitted, and Abandoned.

Using colour coding in the sheet to show immediate, next-in-line or short-term writing projects is a great idea. And a different colour for long-term, nice-to-do projects helps keep them on your radar.

The combination of colour coding and status works well to give me a big picture of what’s laid out over the next few days and weeks.

Many writing ideas that come through reading other people’s content need context. Add a column for that in the sheet. Paste the web page link or add notes to help you when you sit down to write.

Having a bird’s eye view can also help connect ideas. A good example is this article, which struck me as an idea when I wrote an article on elevating  your typical day.

5. Don’t Skip Research

You have your headline ready, and the context is set. Now you want to find out if it is a topic worthy of writing about and whether enough material exists. Like most folks, I usually look up books on Kindle and research on the internet.

A fantastic tool that I’ve been using to record research is Glasp. It is a social highlighter that lets me assemble everything I have marked from any website in one place. You can tag each highlighted item, colour-code it and add comments. The tool has a browser extension that works in Chrome as well as Brave.

Often you stumble upon an article with content you won’t immediately use. Store it away with Glasp. Or use other highlighter tools like Liner, TLDRticle, TagX, and Notecast.

As soon as I begin work on a topic, I go back to my Glasp page and see what I have filed. I pull references for my outline. The highlights I store constantly enrich whatever my article is about.

A Glasp tool page with details of its features like notes, tags and highlights.

6. Get Your Outline Done

Your research goes hand in hand with your ideas, and sometimes, new learning triggers new angles to cover.

The trick is to avoid being led down a rabbit hole of research. Instead, focus on what gets your article out the door.

Writing helps me think better and temporarily confines my world to the topic I am writing about. I create a mind map or content outline on a whiteboard. A non-tech tool that captures learning so well — you can add, rewrite, and erase — quicker than a tech tool.

By always being in your line of sight, the topic sits deep into your subconscious. You can also use the whiteboard to remind yourself of key points to cover, power words to use, and emotions to fan.

Visualisation of an idea on a screen bigger than my desktop monitor somehow gives it scale and the attention it deserves. My mind fits the different pieces better when the parts are all laid out.

7. Play The Long Game. That Is The Shortcut

So have I made it to the big leagues yet? Certainly not, but I have lasted longer than most beginner writers. I have signed up for the most brutal boot camp there is. Survival is not optional.

The experts continue to promise a magic bullet to achieve writing greatness. Unless you have a personal system, you won’t know if it is the bullet to bite or dodge.

After getting a grip on developing my system, I no longer feel I’m missing out. Or that everybody else but me has some secret weapon that lets them go viral.

I realise I don’t need to read or research every waking hour. Smart systems ensure I have everything I need to keep writing and keep improving.

It’s a jungle out there. But I will survive.

Hi, I am Nalanda. I write about Adventure Travel, Personal Effectiveness and share stories from the rich tapestry of LIFE!

If you like this article, you’ll love my Newsletter — Get, Set, Adventure. It’ll drop twice a month.

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