Last week I shared 5 lessons learned from writing. Well actually, it was 4 and the realization that the post needed to be broken up into 2 parts. In the interest of word count, I’m gonna skip the long and drawn out wit-filled intro. Shall I continue with the list? I most certainly shall.
Watch Out for Burnout and Recognize When You’re Doing Too Much
I’m mentioning this first because it’s been an issue for me recently. Folks often forget to take serious breaks so that they can get the physical, mental, and emotional rest — all of which are important for creativity and Bawse-Don status — that they need.
I came to the realization about a month ago that I was burnt the f*ck out. Between this site, SBM, Twitter, Facebook, other blogs, my new project, and my day job, my mind was tapped. It still is actually. I’ve had moments at work and at home where I’ve felt mentally paralyzed because I had so much going on in my head about stuff that needed to get done. In order to maximize my greatness, I’ve had to minimize commitments. Mental real estate is the most expensive out there.
Steps taken to date include scaling back to 2 posts a month on SBM, posting here when I have something to say and not just posting to post, pushing my new project to the fall, scaling back on excessive weekend foolishness that leaves me exhausted, and not ODing as much on g-chat or any instant messaging platform.
Oh yeah, I’ve also scheduled a vacation. As an HR person, I’ve read far too many studies about people that don’t use all their vacation time because they fear sh*t will hit the fan in their absence, that their company will realize they don’t need them, or that it’ll seriously put them beind the 8-ball. I’m not trying to be that person anymore. Speaking of which…
Learn How to Disconnect and Refresh
In the midst of burnout and brain-fry syndrome, it occured to me that I haven’t taken a real vacation in 2 years. And to make it even more depressing, I’ve never taken a full week off from work since starting my indentured servitude for The Man. Isn’t that sh*t the pits? I looked at my back the other day and it’s no wonder these lashes haven’t healed. I haven’t given myself the chance to completely relax and reset.
Those of you that write may fear that if you leave for any extended period of time that you will lose your readership and/or social media following. The truth is that you lose members of your readership/following everyday. You just may not know it and there’s nothing you can do about it. The upside is that those who really support what you do and bring to the table understand you’re a person and that you need time to unwind from the madness. If they abandon your site for good because you took an extended vacation, they were never really “your readers/followers” to begin with. Folks are fickle out there.
I’ve also become a fan of quick refresh sessions on a weekly basis. For some folks, it may be church, a walk through a park or around the neighborhood, seeing a movie, etc. You get my drift. There should be something you do every week to recharge your battery or reset your internal hard drive. That may sound dirty depending on your anatomy, but I promise it isn’t.
If You’re Seriously Pursuing a Writing or Blogging Career, Pick a Niche
I used to run a group blog called Three Ways to Take It. One of the biggest strengths of the site was variety in writer content. It was like having 3 (4) personal bloggers talk about whatever they wanted on 1 platform. This was also our greatest weakness. At the time we shut down the show, we had just under 1K subscribers. We weren’t part of any particular niche since we discussed so many topics and I think that actually stopped us from seeing 2k subscribers or more. We’d see some folks subscribe to the site 1 day and then unsubscribe the next because the content was so different from what attracted them to subscribe in the first place.
To reach the largest audience, you have to pick a smaller segment of it. Had 3 Ways affiliated with a particular niche, the audience would’ve been different but our influence would have been greater and who knows there that would’ve led? When you’re a Jack of All Trades, you’re the master of none. Folks like to go to a source and know exactly what they’re gonna get. And if folks don’t know what they’re gonna get from you, how can they explain your site to other people? End up in a conversation like this:
Fan: OMG, you have to check out this site. It’s so awesome!
Busy Friend: What’s it about?
Fan: Oh, it’s about a bunch of stuff. Like everything.
Busy Friend: Yeah, but what’s the focus?
Fan: Idk. It’s just awesomeness!
Busy Friend: o__O Right, I’ll check it out later… (No I won’t.)
It took me 3 years to figure out what niche I wanna become a force in. It may or may not take you just as long. Just don’t force it.
Always Have a Personal Site
Plain and simple, you need to always have a way to distinguish your personal brand from whatever greater brand you may be affiliated with. It’s also great to have an outlet where you can do whatever you want. This site gave me new life…and then I got burnt the f*ck out.
By the way, if you haven’t given thought to your brand then you should. Figure out how you wanna be seen in a few words and how people actually see you. This in itself is a separate post.
Last Minute Writing Gives You Good Enough Rather Than Your Best
It’s okay to be deadline driven. I’m good friends with last-minute writing. We actually co-wrote this post. But this friend is a bad influence. Even after proofreading, I end up having to go back and fix errors once the post is live. Or worse, I come up with new ideas that would have taken the post to the next level but it’s too late.
My best writes have been posts that I’ve worked on for 1-3 days. I suggest you try to regularly do the same unless you know that you just wrote some piff (hot sh*t) and the world needs it now.
Pay for Stuff When You Need to Pay for Stuff
Black folks always be tryin’ to get stuff done for the freeski. I get it. But typically when people do stuff for you for free, they take their time and often don’t do it to the best of their ability. You may also spend a lot of time just lookin’ for someone to do what you need for free. With blogging/writing bein’ as fast-paced as it can be, time is definitely money. If you want to have a professional website and don’t wanna sink 10-20 hours into learning and developing the site, have someone experienced build it for you. I’d rather have 10 more hours to write than 10 hours of frustration.
The same goes with anything else in life. This could be a laundry drop off service, grocery delivery, cleaning service, etc. You do what you need to maximize what’s most valuable, your time.
Need I say more.
There’s Enough Out There for Everybody to Eat
Plain and simple, stop trying to be better than the next site or writer. Who gives a sh*t how many comments or subscribers they have, or how fast they’re growing? Don’t answer that. The point is that someone’s successes doesn’t take away from your greatness. And it damn sure doesn’t take away from your potential. There are too many magazines and advertisers looking for talented folks to get lost in what the next person is doing. If anything, learn from their mistakes. You can even ask them questions. Most folks are pretty responsive within reason. And when 1 person won’t respond to you, another 1 will. You’ll build relationships in the process and be better off overall.
Well, that’s all I’ve got for now. Hope you’ve found some of this helpful. If you have any other tips or questions, drop them in the comments. In addition to responding, I’m sure I’ll come back to this topic at some point.