A little while ago I wrote a 30,000 word (unpublished) book manuscript. It was an amazing experience. As I was writing, I found there were some great take away’s from the process that I want to share.
But first, just to clear something up, publishing is a broad topic – How do you define it? To me, publishing means distributing content you’ve produced through any public channel. Nowadays, content can take many forms from text to video to photos to illustrations to audio etc etc. While I consider distributing all forms of content ‘publishing’ – I want to particularly focus on writing (because writing has unique characteristics which I’ll dive into below). So why write?
1. It slows you down
Our brains think and are making connections and associations at an enormously fast rate. If we are talking in words per minute (wpm) – its somewhere around 1000 wpm. Yet the average Australian adult reads at a rate of 250-300 wpm. Now if you consider how fast you write vs read (you type at roughly 20-30 wpm, by the way) – you will start to see the huge difference. So if our brains think about 30 times as fast as we can type – then writing slows down our thoughts quite dramatically. The result? It lets you see the connections and the relationships between what you know far more clearly.
2. It allows you to systemise your intuition
How often do you deliver value in your work based on intuition? If a client comes to you identifying some symptomatic issues of a set of problems they’ve got, do you tend to automatically ask a bunch of rapid-fire questions to identify and examine those problems? Do you have to consciously think about this for any length of time or does that ‘unpacking’ process just come naturally to you based on years of experience? Well that magic you might call intuition isn’t magic at all. It is simply unexamined process. As soon as you slow down and document that intuitive response, you’ve created a process that can be systemised, delegated, productised, repeated consistently and scaled.
Intuition is simply unexamined process.
3. It forces clarity of message
Writing helps you get clear on your message for the very reason outlined above. For as long as your thoughts are locked up in your head, its hard to see the connections and the relationships between what you know. Understanding comes from the ability to link ideas. Ideas on their own don’t provide a huge amount of insight. Connecting what you know with what you don’t know does. It’s only when two or more ideas are connected with one another do you start to understand the true implications and power of that idea. For example: I don’t know anything about quantum mechanics – but when someone or something can relate it to what I already know very well, my understanding of quantum mechanics increases significantly and the power of those ideas take on an entirely new life.
4. It boosts your credibility
Publishing your ideas, philosophies, ideologies, methodologies and experiences gives you marvellous credibility. Until you’ve taken the time to distil your thoughts into a compelling message, then you will always be a little unconvincing. The more you do this the more credibility you gain. Interestingly, not all forms of publishing are made equal. For example, blog posts don’t carry the same ‘authority’ as a book. A book demonstrates greater time, energy and effort to produce than a blog post. Being an author, published or self-published, simply carries more weight. A book has got ‘thud’ value that digital mediums don’t – you can whack it down on the table in front of someone and frankly, that simply says more then sending them a link to your most recent blog post. It wraps the tangible around the intangible – which is a critical component when it comes to selling ideas.
5. It will inspire and energise you
Writing is hugely inspiring. When you write you get to delve into the deep recesses of your knowledge and uncover the hidden gems that you would never tap into in your day-to-day life. Like an onion, we typically only access the surface layers of our knowledge – the stuff we need to use day to day. But when you write, you get to peel back the layers and reveal whats underneath. Not only does it inspire those who read it, but it inspires you as well. Much like a self-fulfilling prophecy, the more time you spend accessing these deeper layers of your knowledge, the more you start to naturally leverage this knowledge day-to-day.
6. It allows your message to spread beyond just you
When your best thinking is locked up in your head – your message can never spread. If getting a message out into the world is important to you (it should be), then you need to write it down in a way that’s highly shareable and spreadable. Creating memes, maxims and aphorisms in your writing that ‘hook’ the reader are great ways to do that.
Writing may spread; but memes, maxims and aphorisms hook.
7. It validates your ideas & concepts
The only way to validate an idea is to take it to market. An easy, low-cost way to validate whether an idea is a good idea is to publish it in the marketplace and see what other people have to say. This allows you to test and iterate fast, giving you the market validation to create a prototype/beta version of a product or service if the response dictates to. If the idea doesn’t land at all, then you’ve just saved yourself a whole lot of time, money and effort in product development of what turned out to be a bogus idea.
8. It builds engagement, trust and community
Publishing creates a wonderful way to engage with people. We all like to hear what others have to say and we admire those who have the guts to say it in a public forum. If we have original ideas or a unique take on things then you soon start to build a following. Treating that following with courtesy, manners, respect, understanding and transparency breeds trust with you and your personal brand. This is the foundation of leading a thriving tribe.
And what benefits does this all translate into?
– It raises your profile: The more you publish the more you get known – it’s really as simple as that. The more you are known for something the faster the things you are looking for in life tend to show up – even if the nexus between that effort and result appears weak.
– It attracts the right opportunities: When you’re known for something then all of a sudden more opportunities start to present themselves. Because you are known for ‘that thing’, they are usually the right sort. However, even if they’re not, you’ve now got an easy way to filter what is an attractive opportunity and what isn’t. You can also educate those around you as to what’s a good opportunity and what isn’t the right one for you.
– It enables you to charge more: Having more credibility and being seen as the go-to person in your niche will increase demand. Increased demand leads to an increase in price and charge more for what you do. Again a self-fulfilling prophecy starts to take hold – the more you charge the more you become known as ‘the person’ to see for your specialist area of expertise.
– It allows you to leave a legacy: Writing allows you to leave a legacy that will carry on for generations. If something were to ever happen to you that meant you could no longer continue with your life’s work (you became ill with a serious illness or died suddenly) your writing would live on in the hearts and minds of those who read it. Even if it doesn’t go beyond your own family and close friends, this would surely make an immensely positive impact on the world, no matter how widespread. It is one of the simplest and most powerful ways to leave your ‘mark’.
I hope these many reasons have inspired you to get writing.
Now, back to that book…