Do you want 30 days of writing inspiration?

Every day in August I'm writing and publishing a piece on Medium designed to inspire the reader to buckle down and actually write. I share tips and stories, all with a focus on implementation.

My primary source of inspiration is Sean McCabe's course 30 Days to Better Writing. A whole group of seanwes Community members are going through the course together and since I've already been through it I decided to challenge myself not only to write every day, but also publish.

All of the posts on Medium are behind a paywall which means that unless you pay $5/month to be a member you can't read more than three articles in a month. If you do become a member your $5 goes to the writers you "clap" for, but if you don't want to become a member you can still read all 30 articles by {clicking here}. I will send you one every day beginning as soon as you sign up. You can take a peek at what I've already published by clicking any of the titles below:

I’m writing every day this month

{3 reasons you should join me}

How to write words worth paying for

{and why you should}

My #1 trick to make writing every day easier

{spoiler: it has to do with routine}

How I’m building a loyal following

{attracting an audience that knows, likes, and trusts me}

You’re blogging for the wrong people

{how to craft a blog that will resonate with your ideal audience}

3 ways to kill writers block

{how to make it easy to buckle down and write}

Do something badly today

{you can’t improve what doesn’t yet exist}

how I'm beating imposter syndrome

{one client, student, or reader at a time}

I feel like an imposter.

  • "I know I'm not the best."
  • "Why should I expect anyone to pay me?"
  • "Surely someone else could do a better job."

These are a few of the berating phrases the negative voice in my head tries to use to paralyze me. The question is, do they have any grounding?

"I know I’m not the best."

I didn’t write the poems in the book my heart poured out because I wanted to sell a book. I wrote them to pour my heart out. When people read them and loved them I was surprised. I am not the best poet; I know this. But apparently you don’t have to be the best poet in order to write poetry that will resonate best with a particular reader.

When my readers told me they wanted to hold my words in their hands, bound into a real paper book, I listened. They told me what was best for them and I did what I could to provide it.

I’m learning that “best” can be subjective. When it comes to making a product the way to make it the best is to figure out how to best serve a particular customer. I can’t be the best for everyone, but I can be the best for the people who choose me to serve them.

"Why should I expect anyone to pay me?"

When I was a a professional seamstress I designed a skirt that immediately became popular. Friends and then friends of friends wanted to learn to make it for themselves so I put together a single page of basic instructions and allowed people to freely copy and share it. I began to see versions of my skirt “in the wild” so to speak and while I was flattered I was also dismayed. Without detailed instructions people were making all kinds of poor decisions in the process of making their skirts. They were (mis)reading between the lines because I didn’t have the time to teach them any better. I had no one to blame but myself.

I spent too long pandering to the idea that I should give everything away for free or at deep discounts. It wasn’t sustainable and eventually I abandoned my sewing business.

After some time away studying what being a professional really means and how sustainable businesses run I returned to the popular skirt design. I decided to write a whole book of instruction using the skirt to illustrate the process of sewing a piece of clothing that the wearer will absolutely love. I set a price for that book and then I pushed myself to fill it with enough valuable content to justify the price and then some.

Asking people to — no, letting people pay me meant that I was free to serve them better through the things I created. Instead of stressing about how I was going to justify the time spent on projects I became free to focus on creating the best thing I could come up with.

"Surely someone else could do a better job."

Now I write for other creative entrepreneurs. To be more specific I write case studies that will get them great clients. This week enrollment is open for my course on the topic. So many times while preparing for this course launch I have felt inadequate. I feel like I shouldn’t even try because there are people out there who could do a better job than I am doing.

There is a pattern in the feedback from the students who tested my course: They say that I have successfully taught them the skills they sought in vain elsewhere. This is making me realize that while perhaps there are people who could do a better job, they aren’t. And so I forge ahead.

I’m beating imposter syndrome through shipping.

Maybe I can’t be the objective best, but by simply putting my work out there someone can decide I am the best for him.

Maybe I don’t feel like my work is worth much, but by setting the bar high I can push myself to make it worth it.

Maybe someone else could do better, but I can put out something good while we wait for them to make something better.

And you know what? By shipping — putting out work — I’m iterating and getting better and better. So maybe I’m not an imposter after all.

Maybe I am the best.

the first step isn't as hard as it feels

So many people have told me
that the most difficult thing about writing case studies
is simply knowing
where to start.

Implementation of any skill
is often the most difficult part of learning it
so I crafted a course
with this in mind.

Then I took the first 3 lessons
(the ones that address "knowing where to start")
and condensed them
into a short guide.

This quick-start guide is free!
The part of the course addressing #1 difficulty
is no longer locked
behind a paywall.

Sure, those first 3 course lessons
are far more detailed than the condensed versions.
And there are more than 3
lessons in the course.

So if you find the guide helpful
and want to use case studies to get great clients
enroll in the
actual course.

But if you don't have
the time or money to invest right now
I still want to help...
so get the guide!

making money and giving things away

I don't have a business because I want to make money.
I have a business because I want to help people.
In order to help more people my business needs to make money.
And so I charge for the work I do...
Except when I don't.

This month I'll be opening enrollment for my course.
People will pay me for the work I put in,
but that isn't the only reason I charge for it.
Paying will also help motivate participants
to actually finish the course.

Still, I understand that many creative freelancers
— especially young people starting out —
simply don't have the money to invest right now.
I still want to help them.
So I'm giving away a scholarship!

Tell me about what drives you or someone you know
to work to make a living from your creativity.
I'll send you a free guide to help you start getting great clients.
Nominate yourself and your friends
by clicking over to {the giveaway page}.

the evolution of my editorial calendar

An editorial calendar doesn’t have to be complicated. The first one that I created in my business bullet journal (bujo) back in March 2016 is a great example.

I began by establishing my publishing schedule: weekly on Mondays. I listed those dates along the left side of the page, skipping a couple of lines between each in order to leave space for the descriptions of what I wanted to write about. Sometimes the description is only a couple of words long and sometimes it’s a long topic brainstorm complete with a mini outline. Leaving this amount of space allows for flexibility.

An editorial calendar doesn’t make your publishing calendar inflexible; once you write it it’s easy to change if necessary. In fact, writing it out often helps to clarify what changes might need to happen.

In this example I changed up the posting schedule for May twice, going from weekly to daily and back to weekly. The fact that I had a book coming out motivated these changes: I had wanted to publish daily building toward the launch but as it came closer I realized I had a million other things to straighten out behind the scenes so I went back to the idea of weekly posts. Because I’d already brainstormed daily content it was easy to choose the most relevant topics for my weekly postings.

A year later I was preparing to publish my second book. I changed up my editorial calendar, designing a layout that would allow me to keep track of my work on the book as well as my online publishing schedule.

The basic rapid log key that the creator of the bullet journal method, Ryder Carroll, suggests works well within an editorial calendar: a simple bullet ∙ for a to-do type item — in this case a post to be written, edited, or published — a single slash (/) once the item is in-progress, an X when completed, and a line drawn through the whole phrase if an item is canceled.

Late in 2017 my focus shifted from book-writing to course-writing. Because I was publishing or sending out content to my testers multiple times a week I used a monthly-overview style of editorial calendar. I kept it clean, though, by only noting the publishing schedule: that is, instead of writing down when I would draft, then edit, and finally publish each post, I simply wrote down when a post would be published.

Another addition to this particular version of editorial calendar is the “top monthly goals” section. Writing down the three things that are most important to me helped me to focus and know what to write about.

I knew the first half of 2018 was going to be a bit crazy, what with the birth of my little girl. I simplified my editorial calendar significantly, taking inspiration from future log layouts and combining the publishing schedule with a to-do list.

Instead of using a full spread for a single month, I allotted a third of a page for each month. Limiting the space helped me limit the things I expected myself to accomplish and protected my breathing room.

For June and July I’m trying an entirely new set-up: one month per page. In addition to the ∙ / X symbols I also use ◦ and — to signify events and notes respectively. I’ve left Saturdays off of the calendar since I take that day off work. This layout suits the unique needs of a month with a product launch, allowing me to have enough space to keep track of multiple publishing outlets while still limited me so I won’t over-commit.

In addition to the general editorial calendar I set aside a spread devoted to IGTV. I wanted a space to brainstorm and explore the new medium, a place to collect ideas and schedule their implementation.

I organize the ideas for my blog and social media elsewhere and would be happy to go over my processes in a future post. Click on any of the images in this post and leave a comment on Instagram to let me know if you are interested!