Write for yourself, publish for others

I’m trying this idea out.

Write for yourself

The purpose of writing should be for yourself.

Writing is your chance to process the world, to organize those thoughts that are buzzing round your head. To reflect and discover something you didn’t know.

Writing should be a selfish pursuit.

Publish for others

The purpose of publishing is to benefit other people.

If you are going to share something, it should help other people. It can help you as well, but publishing should primarily be for other people.

Your thought or idea can be incomplete and you may want feedback to develop, but there should still be a benefit for other people. After all, if there is no benefit for other people, why would they give feedback?

Publishing should be a generous gift.

My approach

I’ve long taken this approach to my writing but I never really codified it. My notebook and day one are full of selfish writing and reflection but my blog posts aim to be useful for everyone.

Why You Should Work Less and Spend More Time on Hobbies

As professionals around the world feel increasingly pressed for time, they’re giving up on things that matter to them. A recent HBR article noted that in surveys, most people “could name several activities, such as pursuing a hobby, that they’d like to have time for.”

This is more significant than it may sound, because it isn’t just individuals who are missing out. When people don’t have time for hobbies, businesses pay a price. Hobbies can make workers substantially better at their jobs.

This article resonated with a lot of stuff I’ve seen from Austin Kleon this year and some of the ideas from Digital Minimalism.

The “turn your passion into a job” movement seems to have result in us constantly working rather than “never working a day in our lives”.

I’ve heard far too many stories of becoming a professional raining the passion.

Just this week I talked with a colleague who published her first YouTube video in a year (she makes game reviews). Now that her job is making YouTube tutorials, she find it harder to find the time.

I’ve seen the same thing with my writing. I keep going and writing and have a habit in streaks, my habit tracking app, but it changed from more content strategy focused to self expression (and even that I do less).

One of the reasons I’ve recently got more into pens, calligraphy and drawing is to counter the time I spent at a screen all day. I don’t want this to become my profession, writing is my profession.

This is a hobby, one I’d like to get better at but ultimately, I’d rather it stay free of work baggage and never make me a dime than bring me a fortune and become stale and dull…though you should probably test my resolve on that statement if it was possible.

I made this iPhone X wallpaper from a note I took while reading Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport. It’s one of the affirmative call of the book in contrast to the negative warning against social media and endless streams.

Now I see it every time I go to unlock my phone. A reminder to not cram every minute with other people’s thoughts and words, but to spend time reflecting and thinking.

As a Christian, this time naturally turns to prayer. Both that of gratitude and supplication. I didn’t specifically add that so that any reader might find it useful and choose to use it.

You can download the image below.

The actual creation was rather simple. I have a template in procreate based on an iPhone screen size. I started with that and then dragged in a black later. I left some space at the top for the time and date. Then, from my sketchnote pen set, I used my “sharpie” shape for the main line. I soon realised that doing everything in large letters would be too much, so I used my “thin pen” for the smaller parts. Finally, I used a brush pen for “be” to add some more variation.

I wanted the largest text to be sufficient on its own. “Alone…thoughts..” it works as a call though the rest obviously enhances the call.

I have to keep myself in check against the desire to focus on the result of “having read” rather than the process reading. It feels good to get to the end of a book and know that you’ve gained some value from it, but by focusing on the end result, it actually harms the end result. Let me give you an example.

Yesterday, I was reading through the Bullet Journal Method again (I wanted to read something different and this fit). I came to a section with a useful exercise, writing what’s on your mind. “Almost” like GTD where you should get everything out of your head. Now I could have read this and carried on reading but instead I stopped and did the activity.

Now that’s an activity, but there are other reasons to stop. As I read Atomic Habits, I frequently stopped and questioned “How could I apply this to my life?”

I want to make sure that when I read, I do not just go into a trance but take in the information. That reading leads to learning and inspiration not filling time.

I try to focus on the process of reading so that I can benefit the most from each book.

But it feels good to finish a book.

The Accidental Creative podcast is one of those which I frequently return to despite it often being only Todd Henry talking. I love that it isn’t overly long and often has practical tips for creativity.

In a recent episode, Todd shared how he plans his week and the weekly planner he used. I liked many of the ideas he shared and knew I wanted to turn them into a sketchnote. So I found a copy of his planner (which you can buy) imported it into Procreate, and added some notes around the side.

This kind of sketchnoting — with images imported and highlighted — is a style I don’t often use but is highly useful. It adds the real object you are referencing, but allows you to add your notes and comments. You can create quick references cards to return to and making it leads to a greater understanding of the idea.

I’m going to make one for Todd’s Daily planner too so.