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This week, we'll be talking about writing; specifically, I want you all to understand how important it is that you write regularly, even if you're just writing notes to yourself.
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Writing as a Skill
Whatever you do in life, writing well is a skill that will pay dividends in almost all instances. Now I'm not saying you need to be an author in the classic sense; you don't even need to publish (digitally or otherwise) anything you do end up writing. That said, take a brief moment to think about how often you are forced to write in a given day. How many emails do you send? How many notes do you make for yourself? How many presentations do you contribute to?
Being able to articulate your thoughts more clearly will allow you to make your points more effectively, relay messages as you intend them to be received, and garner more respect from your peers. Writing may actually be the most useful skill you can practice. And, lest we forget, the easiest way to become a "subject matter expert" about something is to write frequently about it!
In order to practice writing effectively, it's important to master the practice. Steven Pressfield and Anne Lamott are two great sources of information in this regard (both of their books are linked below). The first, and most important, step is to write something every day. It doesn't need to be a masterpiece, it doesn't need to ever see the light of day or be read by anyone but you. Whatever it is, write it down. Be consistent. Build and develop a routine. (As a quick disclaimer: the emails, etc. that you already need to write in a day don't count)
In order to maximize the effectiveness of your practice, you must do it in a space that is free from distraction. The concept of Deep Work has been written about and explained by Cal Newport but, in short, keep your daily practice free from your phone or anything else that can interrupt you. Every distraction, however small, requires 15-20 minutes of focused effort to overcome and get back into a state of concentration. Even on days where you can't dedicate a tremendous amount of time to writing, do yourself the favor of removing any distractions that will make your practice less effective.
Lastly, the goal is to write without stopping. Editing will come in the next step. For now, write uninterrupted in all of the raw, grammatically poor, and incomprehensible glory. The worse the better, and your first draft will likely be one of the worst things you've ever laid eyes on. All writing happens in the rewrite; the first draft is merely a compass, a guide, a roughly drawn map of where you're headed.
Once the first draft is finished, take some time away from it. Editing is best done when you've had time to shift out of the initial, creative process and do something different. Creating space between the initial writing and the ultimate rewrite will lead to a fundamentally better product (and is also crucial for your mental health and long-term ability to stick with it).
Editing is necessary even if you have no intentions of sharing what you wrote; keep in mind that the process of reviewing, revising, and correcting is where you get your "reps" in and your skills improve. Being able to effectively edit your own work will make an immediate impact on your emails, presentations, etc. Just don't forget: your first drafts will still always suck, that's just how it goes.
Writing is a critical skill that improves with daily practice. Uninterrupted time for this practice is one of the most important parts of the equation. Jerry Seinfeld, when asked about his writing process, stated that he sets aside an hour every morning. Some days he writes something magnificent, some days he stares at a blank page for an hour, and most days fall somewhere in the middle. The point is, he practices daily.
The most interesting things I've read, heard, or encountered this week:
A book that helps with writing: The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
Pressfield's book on writing, and art in general, has consistently been one of the most commonly and regularly recommended books on the subject. It contains numerous lessons on the process, and building meaningful habits for regularly creating art in all of its forms.
And a second one: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
Anne Lamott is a frequent guest on the Tim Ferris podcast, and for good reason. In a similar fashion to the War of Art, this book is incredibly helpful for building and maintaining a consistent practice (whatever form it takes in your life).
What I'm listening to: Anne Lamott's TED Talk (video)
To follow up on the previous point, Anne gave a great TED Talk titled "12 truths I learned from life and writing"
What I'm watching: Froning vs Fraser Open Workout 15.1
I spent many years as a competitive CrossFit athlete, ultimately competing on a team at the CrossFit Games in 2016. Whether or not you like (or even understand) CrossFit, this video is a great depiction of two of the best in the sport locked in a physical chess match. This workout had two components, and Rich and Mat remain evenly matched throughout.
Speaking of Fitness: "How virtual fitness is democratizing access to boutique fitness" in Fast Company
There are a number of trends that I've observed after a decade of working in the fitness industry. One thing that is definitely here to stay is the hybrid model of in-person and virtual training. This article from Fast Company addresses how the move to virtual classes has given more people access, and made more people comfortable, with more exclusive fitness brands.
That will do it for this week! Please let me know what you liked, didn't like, and what you want to see more of. Do you want it to be longer, shorter? Do you want specific topics covered more? Less? Have a wonderful week, and remember to please forward this to your friends -- helping get the word out and get more eyes on this newsletter is hugely helpful and greatly appreciated!
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