Stop Writing Your Way to A Life Sentence. Use This Unusual Jail Break Card.

Stop Writing Your Way to A Life Sentence. Use This Unusual Jail Break Card.

If it ain’t shocking you, it ain’t shaking you.

On a Wednesday morning, Santosh Mane stole the bus master key at the depot, picked a random bus to drive and mowed 9 people to death on the busy streets of Pune.

It included office goers, school children and workers walking to their site.

The whole city was aghast at the horror.

Within a month, new bus depot and police protocols were in place to prevent such tragedies again.

The depot managers and police responders were shocked into action.

The mayhem Mane caused was insane. But the lessons were rapid and long-term.

Your life may not depend on it, but you sometimes need to jar yourself awake to make deep changes within.

If it ain’t shocking you, it ain’t shaking you.

Some writers may be happy to plod along. For a time, I was them. Not anymore. Nor should you be.

I am hungry for more than followers and likes.

My writing should speak loud and clear to potential clients and reel them in.

Readers should look forward to my articles and reread them.

We all wish it, no one but us can make it happen.

What a heart attack is to a smoker, complacency is to a writer.

Shock the system — Yours.

What is the most audacious writing goal you can set for yourself?

Select one that will make you squirm and want to run away fast. But then stay and do the work.

I walked 63 kilometres in a day last year to raise funds. After the first few hours, it was a mind game. That was easy.

Suspending everything I know about how to write well and following the framework laid out by my coach is hard.

Here is what I decided — Not one squeak of complaint, not straying from the path, and no second-guessing the system that got him to the 100K followers club.

Now, you can make your body obey by putting your mind in charge. 

But who will take charge of the mind that resists?

“The system is not for me, not what I believe in. Who writes like this anyway? I’ll develop my own style. You just wait, I’ll be ‘discovered’ soon.”

I am letting my mind use up all its tricks. I’ll let it sweat. Then I’ll show it who’s boss.

Unless you put yourself into constraints, you don’t force yourself to perform.

All that has failed

I got this feedback repeatedly on my articles — what IS the takeaway for the reader?

After putting effort into beautiful copy, into an engaging headline, the writing remains just an extension of my thoughts.

Why should my readers care?

There is a set of questions you ask of your article to check if it has value for the reader.

I stuck it to my writing desk wall. And, it faded into yellow, dog-eared obscurity over time. As neglected as the other motivational quotes I had put up. (“Kill your darling”, “Readers First”, “One Objective, One Outcome”)

It did nothing to improve my writing. It wasn’t supposed to.

I saw writers with less appealing writing styles turn up and go past the post. My articles languished in the wilderness, waiting to be rescued. Or to die unlamented.

Of course, I don’t have the benefit of exposure. I don’t have the network. They have direct access to other writers in cafes.

Excuses much?

I had them all thought out. One lamer than the next. Everything except how to get my shit together.

We often forget that the grass is always greener on the side where it’s nurtured.

All that (could) work.

If anyone has whatever they call the reverse of imposter syndrome, it is me. For years and through several articles.

Now, I have accepted that I am a writer-in-progress.

My writer friends never let me forget it. And they shouldn’t.

I was never opposed to learning, but I applied it selectively. That has to change.

Stop writing your way to a life sentence.

Asking for help is the most courageous thing I might have done. It shocked me that I would do it.

Setting targets for articles/days works for a duration. Then you miss one day and then another. The momentum is gone.

Read X articles per day, and hand-write notes to capture what works — If you are not a fast writer or an organised one, other chores soon take over.

Scouring the internet to connect interesting concepts is fun for you. Is it fun for your readers?

Searches like this lead me down rabbit holes. Where did those three hours go?

Tough as they may be, these goals don’t make you shit your pants.

Find something that does.

Santosh Mane’s death sentence was commuted to a life term six years later. The judges believed that he was unsound of mind. Enough to escape the death penalty.

Your writing needs someone to believe in it to prevent its slow death. That has to be someone other than you.

Find a mentor or a coach who has a proven system. Who believes in your writing and will give it a lease of life.

Once you have that, get out of your own way and put faith in what has worked.

Trust in yourself was what got you here — it was a great journey. Now trust that you’ll improve as you put in the work — make it a better one.

Don’t write your own life sentence by doing things your way.

Break out of jail by believing in a plan and get ready to be free.

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