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You haven’t written that book, or started that blog or podcast you’ve wanted to start, because you fear you don’t have anything worthy to say.
I mean, you kind of think you have something worthy to say, but what if other people don’t think so? What if they don’t pay any attention to you at all?
“Worthy” is another way of saying “valuable”. But value is subjective. Information can be worthless to one person and invaluable to another.
This means you don’t get to determine what is valuable to someone else. Only they can decide what is valuable to them.
We all have wisdom to share. Even the things that seem mundane, or uninteresting, to us can be novel to others.
It’s not up to you to decide what’s valuable, it’s up to you to write.
It’s only natural to fear no one ever reading what you write. You want what you say to matter. Then it feels like YOU matter. If you write something no one ever reads, what’s the point?
Well, there are actually many “points”. There are many benefits to writing that have nothing to do with anyone else ever reading what you wrote. But before I get to those, let’s call this what it really is:
You want a guarantee someone will read what you write before you make any effort to put words on the page.
That’s kind of like asking for a promise you’ll be featured in a museum before you agree to make your first drawing, don’t you think?
You’re owed no platform and guaranteed no audience. Blood, sweat, and tears are the cost of entry and no promise of attention is given before you begin. You must earn attention.
So why write when there is no guarantee? Why write when no one may ever see?
Write to find out what you have to say. Most people think you write only when you have something to say. You actually have a lot more to say than you know, and you’ll only discover what you have to say by writing. That means starting before you think you’re ready.
Don’t wait to write until you “feel” like it. Don’t wait for motivation to start. Motivation will come as a result of doing. Start with a commitment to write every day and discover what you have to say.
You don’t have to be an expert. Write to the person one step behind you. What do you wish you knew yesterday? One month ago? 2 years ago? Write to your past self. What would have saved you time? What would have helped you avoid pain?
You have only a vague notion of who you were a year ago, 5 years ago, or 20 year ago. We look at the past through rose colored glasses. We have selective memory. The only way to preserve the truth of the past is to document as you go.
Write to document the present. Think of it as journaling if it helps.
You’ve actually come a long way even now, but you don’t give yourself enough credit because you’ve forgotten how far you’ve come. Write to remind your future self what you’ve achieved.
Write to clear your mind. Get all of the thoughts and ideas out of your head and onto paper. Clear out all of the dust and cobwebs up there. Now you can see what was in your head. Look at your ideas on the page and think about them. Now you can use your brain as processing power instead of storage. You no longer have to worry about forgetting because you’ve captured your ideas.
There are many reasons to write, even if no one else reads your writing, but one of the greatest benefits is clarity. When you write, you will get clarity, and clarity, alone, is worth the time it takes to write.
The more you write on a consistent basis, the more you write to your past self, the more you write to the person one step behind you, the more you get mental clarity, the higher your chances someone will read what you say and find it valuable.
One thing is for sure: the best way to guarantee no one will ever hear what you have to say is if you never say it.
Know your WHY before going in. Why are you writing? For whom are you writing?
The greatest gift you can give yourself early on is that of defining “enough”.
You want an audience. You want people to hear what you have to say. You want to feel important. You want to feel like you matter.
Image for a moment that I have the ability to grant your wish.
“Okay,” I say. “I will give you an audience. These people will find what you have to say valuable. They will read everything you write and listen to everything you have to say. You matter to them. They look to you for inspiration. They seek your wisdom.”
Here’s the question:
How many people would be enough?
We get caught up in follower counts, subscribers, customers, and members. But these numbers represent people; actual human beings.
How many people would you need to feel like you matter? How many people’s attention would you want guaranteed for this to be worth the effort?
If you do not answer this question now, no one will answer it for you in the future. 10,000 followers won’t make a difference. 100,000 subscribers won’t satisfy your soul. One million people waiting on the edge of their seats for your next post will only leave you wondering when that number will be 10 million.
Getting hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands of followers and subscribers didn’t satisfy me. Neither did millions of podcast downloads.
You don’t just have to take my word for it either. I can point you to many others I know with hundreds of thousands, and even millions, of followers, and they will tell you the same: the search for a feeling of worthiness continues to elude you. Everything remains the same except for the number of zeroes on the end of the view counts. You compare to the last post that performed better, or someone else’s podcast downloads or video views.
It doesn’t matter how many thousands, or millions, of people you reach: you will struggle with this question of worthiness until you define “enough”.
What is YOUR number? There is no right answer. You have to decide for yourself.
It’s only after you define “enough” for yourself that you will be at peace.
I was chasing for many years. I didn’t know what I was looking for, but it was like trying to grab a shadow. The sense of satisfaction, and feeling that what I said had any meaning, was fleeting.
My value was tied to the numbers. When the numbers went down, I felt like I was worth less.
It wasn’t until I defined “enough” that I set myself free. Now I don’t care about the numbers.
This is my definition (it’s not going to work for you—only your definition of “enough” will work for you):
I do what I do for my siblings. I write for my siblings. I say what I have to say for my siblings. If my siblings get any value out of what I have to say, then that is enough.
Granted, I am the oldest of 13, so that’s no small audience. But that, for me, is “enough”. I consider any influence beyond that of my immediate family a bonus.
This sets me free.
I don’t worry about what I say being worthy anymore. I don’t worry about no one ever reading what I have to say.
I write to my past self and share what I wish I knew then. I write about what would have saved me time or pain.
I write to preserve the truth of the present. I write to document my own journey.
I write to remind my future self of what I’ve achieved and how far I’ve come.
The funny thing is, once you set yourself free, and write from a place of authenticity and truth, you become more attractive and draw more people as a result.
It’s the very obsession with the thing you want that precludes you from obtaining it.
By no longer fixating on the desire for people to pay attention to what you have to say, you end up freeing yourself to say something worth hearing.