If you have been following the Bubble at all this week, you already know that Michael and I have been in Boston all week at #INBOUND13, a conference focused solely on inbound marketing. If you don’t know what inbound marketing is and you are looking for leads and customers, then we should talk, but that isn’t what this blog post is about.
Along with numerous workshop speakers with great information and strategies, we have heard from the likes of Seth Godin, Arianna Huffington, Nate Silver, Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, and wrapped up with an incredibly moving talk from Scott Harrington, who runs Charity:Water. We even had the privilege of hearing a concert for just our convention group from One Republic as part of the deal. Not a bad way to spend a week!
With all of that though, one of my very favorite moments of the conference was a simple 15 minute “Bold Talk” by Beth Dunn (@BethDunn). She presented this ridiculously concise talk entitled “How to be a Writing God” that made me want to sit at her feet for any other 15 minute talk she wanted to give. Beth had a simple premise that she built to and then hit repeatedly from several angles over her short presentation. It was this:
If you want to learn to write, write every day.
That sounded good, but if you’re like me you’re thinking “but I don’t know what to write, or maybe I don’t feel creative every day.” The follow up piece was what really caught my attention: in order to write every day, you have to be willing to lower your standards on what constitutes good writing.
Lower your standards? That sounds so counter-intuitive doesn’t it? But here’s the thing. If we demand perfection of ourselves and wait to put anything out there until we can do it perfectly, we will perhaps never put anything out there.
Write like crap if you have to, but write every day.
Over time you will write less crap and more quality, but to get to quality you have to write every day.
Why did this resonate so much with me? Well, we have been pressing forward as a company to blog every day, which means my part is to write one day a week. Even at once a week the wrestle point for me is always:
“What if it isn’t good enough?”
“What if I put something out there and someone thinks I’m an idiot?
“What do I have to offer that hasn’t already been said?
….and so on!
If you’ve read any of my earlier blogs (one can only dream!) you may have even seen me touch on this before. The struggle to write a blog post, to provide content that was worthy of your time and attention as a reader. Your time IS valuable, so if I’m asking you for some of it to read my few words, then I don’t want you to feel it was a waste. These are all excuses….some of them even good ones. But my new hero Beth Dunn said…write every day. Write like crap if you have to, but write every day.
There’s a principle to the discipline that can be applied almost anywhere. Want to start an exercise plan? Exercise every day. Exercise like crap if you have to (i.e. lower your standards on what an “acceptable” workout looks like), but exercise every day. Want to learn to play an instrument? Play every day. Play like crap if you have to (and early on you will, of course) but play every day.
Thank you Beth. I am encouraged and inspired…both to write and to exercise. I will likely do both badly for a while, but I will lower my standards and build up the discipline; so that eventually I will do both well.