I write close to a thousand words every day.
I say “every day” because I haven’t skipped a beat for the last five years.
Somehow between sales, partnerships, and hiring calls, I manage to find time to write.
Someway between managing a community of 20,000 entrepreneurs, speaking around the world, and working out, I manage to find time to write.
Today, writing is an automatic behavior.
I don’t need a prompt.
Just a keyboard.
What I’ve learned is that writing is more than throwing words on a screen or paper.
It’s a way of becoming a better founder.
Why Founders Should Write
You know that founder who always tells you about their amazing idea even years later? The idea they never accomplish? Yeah, the founder whom you can’t stand. That’s because they’re not writing down their idea and executing on it.
Once the idea is out of their head and on a blog post, then shared with the world, they’re forced to come up with a new one.
So what does writing do for you?
- Writing your ideas down and sharing them holds you more accountable for executing on them.
- Writing your ideas down keeps you from annoying your friends with them for years.
- Writing your ideas down gives you room for new ones.
At BAMF Media, I write down every process that solves a new technical problem whether sales or marketing.
I put this process in a blog post or in a social media status.
Then I hit publish.
You’ll notice that almost every one of our blog posts on our site is geared towards technical growth hacking processes. That’s because those are the problems I’m solving. Once you’ve created an audience for your work from consistent writing, then you have fans encouraging you to solve problems faster to create new content. It’s a bonus many don’t see.
What does writing does specifically for founders?
- Writing keeps your presence with of your team
- Writing builds thought leadership
- Writing attracts new customers
- Writing attracts new hires
That’s why I also write about every new hire we make, every culture move we make, and every client we turn into a hero for their company. This makes our employees feel being a part BAMF Media is more than a job, but a journey and story worth telling. It gives them a reason to say with confidence, “I work at BAMF Media.”
Why It’s Hard for Founders to Write
It’s the same reason it’s hard to play music, shoot video, or play sports.
Skills take time to learn.
That means practice.
No one knows more about practice than founders. Often they need to practice with multiple startups before they get one right. Here’s the secret: the hard part isn’t practice – it’s consistency.
“On average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact. And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances. In Lally’s study, it took anywhere from 18 days to 254 days for people to form a new habit.
In other words, if you want to set your expectations appropriately, the truth is that it will probably take you anywhere from two months to eight months to build a new behavior into your life — not 21 days.” – James Clear
The first day is the hardest.
The second day, the second hardest.
And so forth.
There’s a reason for this – you’re building a behavior.
A behavior that says you can sit down and write wherever and whenever.
This brings me to my next point.
Lower Your Expectations
Top writers don’t need the perfect setting to write.
They don’t need the right music with the right cup of tea in the right coffee shop to write.
They need a keyboard or paper and pencil. For some, like myself, they only need their iPhone.
If you set high standards for what it will take you to write, then the setting will never work in your favor.
Expect to work with less.
Otherwise, your head will be filled with excuses.
I can’t write because it’s…
“Too early. I can’t think.”
“I need to send out sales emails first.”
“I have to check the analytics on our website first.”
You know when I write?
Before I feel the excuses starting to reveal their ugly head.
You know when the excuses appear?
When you wait.
Think of it as a challenge to become a better founder.
Every time you find an excuse, ask yourself,
“Do I want to inspire my employees, partners, and customers?”
“Do I want to release my ideas to find room for new ones?”
The answer is always yes.
Trick your brain to work in your favor by asking the right questions.
That way before you have time to set expectations for your writing, you’ve already started.
Replace One Routine for Another
Write down the routines you have today that you don’t admire about yourself.
Spend late nights drinking with your buddies?
Watch too much T.V.?
Play video games?
Take one of these routines and replace it with writing.
Don’t add writing on top.
That’s what many people do when trying to adopt a new behavior. It doesn’t work because there are only a certain amount of hours in our day. You can’t add a routine without taking one away.
For me, I used to watch T.V. before going to work.
Now I get to work earlier and start writing.
Do I miss all the hours I would’ve spent in front of a T.V. screen?
What do you think?
Use Quora as a Cheat Sheet
Quora is a place where a few of the brightest founders participate regularly. Jason Lemkin, the founder of SaaStr, answers questions almost every day on Quora. Each question he’s answered is related to entrepreneurship, startups, and venture capital.
To date, he’s answered 2,700 questions.
That’s 2,700 ideas out of his head and onto paper.
That’s 2,700 answers that build his thought leadership, attract the best startups to invest in, and recruit employees for his company.
When I became a founder, I answered many of the same questions Jason Lemkin did, but with my own perspective. This helped me get a better understanding of the different pieces in the startup world from company culture to raising money. The best part: he did all the hard work for me by finding the questions to answer.
Nothing is Off Limits
To write every day, you need to break down every barrier you have.
“That subject is too personal.”
“I don’t know how they’ll react if I write about them.”
“I’m not sure people will even care about what I have to say.”
The fastest way to not write is to hold topics off limits. It’s saying, “I want to pick a niche.”
Here’s the truth: You don’t pick a niche, it picks you. The key is to start writing and see where the chips fall. I went from writing about entrepreneurship to festivals. As long as you’re learning and growing from your writing, then it’s a success.
Strike Before You’re Ready
You’ll never feel 100 percent ready to write.
After five years of consistency, I still dread the thought of it.
I do it anyway.
I wake up, work out, get to the office, and write no matter how painful it feels.
I need to write.
I have to write.
Because after you’ve written for an extended length of time, it’s a behavior that defines you.
And if you stop?
You’ll lose what makes you you.