You can’t help but notice the overabundance of hustle articles on Medium and other sites that glorify the benefits and need for writers to publish every day.
“How to write an article every day of the week.”
“How to write 5,000 words a day.”
“How to quit your job and make 6 figures within a year.”
Most articles by writers to other writers are nonsense. Worse, it’s dangerous as it will lead to a reputation of low-quality work and burnout.
I have spent more than a year working on a book. Originally, I thought the project might take a few months. But as the project grew, it became obvious that lots of my early writing and structure were nonsense. When writing is hot off the press, we feel a glow of achievement, and we crave the validation of hitting “publish” and seeking the likes and comments roll in.
However, writing, good writing, takes time.
The process usually begins with an idea or a curiosity that we have some sort of perspective into. That gets written down.
Next, we may wonder what others, academics, and experts have to say on the subject. We do some research, and that gets written down.
Then we review the structure and original thesis of the content so far and realize that it is biased, incomplete, or unengaging. Editing, rewriting, and contemplation follows.
Finally, we get closer to fleshing out a fully formed idea. Valuable ideas are evergreen. They are not “some guy's” hot take on a trendy topic. Ideas that last consider the multiple points of view take a position and then back that position with supporting evidence, anecdotes, and experience.
The process to create content that others want to read and benefit from is a process.
Developing a reputation is a process of creating a bread trail of content that leads readers and followers back to you because you have something unique, valuable, and interesting to say.
I’ve suffered from burnout due to a self-imposed hustle publication schedule before in my first website project. I promised to churn out one to two pieces a week for months. Eventually, the project fell apart. My mental health was damaged, and it took months to recover. When I eventually circled back to review my work and decide what I wanted to republish elsewhere, very little made the cut. It wasn’t good reading. I rushed the process.
One of my favorite authors and strategy consultants, David Maister, revealed his back story in an article that I found on his website. He taught local college courses and eventually wound up at Harvard, where he began his research. Only at age 35 did he begin writing professionally. To begin sharing his knowledge with the world, he promised one magazine editor that he would publish one article a month. And then he stuck to it.
When we look back at Maister’s work, a body of work stands out from the crowd.
Good ideas + a good process + time = excellent writing.