This week, my writing appeared on six different websites — all read by large audiences. When that happens, I always laugh, because it’s never intentional.
People look at a week like this, and they tell me: “Wow, you were busy this week!” Well, not really. The truth is much less glamorous.
The older I get, the more I find this is the case for any significant accomplishment. What really makes a breakthrough isn’t overnight success. It’s the long hours of work leading up to what the public sees.
The real secret to being prolific
I didn’t write those articles and interviews this week. I didn’t even write them last week. In some cases, I wrote those pieces months ago. As luck would have it, they all posted on the same week. Clustering all these releases makes for a nice week of blog traffic, but I guarantee you: it was a complete accident.
If there is any secret to being prolific, it’s this: Work ahead.
Awhile ago, I resolved to write every day. Most days, that means starting a lot of projects and completing a few of them. But every once in awhile, I move one across the finish line.
Turns out, if you do this over and over, you plant a lot of seeds and build a nice steady stream of content. Which you can point wherever you want: on your blog, at magazines for potential publication, or even towards an upcoming book.
Ideas are everywhere — capture them
Most people neglect the simple habit of capturing ideas. A stroke of genius hits them while they’re in the shower or mowing the lawn, and they let it pass. A moment of inspiration comes upon us, but we don’t do anything with it.
We misguidedly believe we have to make the idea come to fruition right then and there. This, I’m convinced, is the reason why so few artists actualize their potential.
They don’t start things they can’t finish.
I’m this way. You probably are, too. We don’t like leaving things unfinished. However, most creative productivity is contingent on this discipline of grabbing ideas out of the ether and harnessing them before they disappear entirely.
How to put it all together
The real trick is finishing the project — the post, the article, the book, the interview, whatever. However, if you’re undisciplined like me, you’re bound to fail if you think of your project in this terms. Instead, think of it as starting again.
Every half-written article I revisit, every old journal entry I reread — these are chances to begin afresh. To put a new spin on an old piece of content.
I do this regularly, letting old ideas resurface and evolve into new ones. Because I have so many at varying lengths, it’s inevitable that I eventually finish one.
Once it’s complete, I ship it. Put it out there for the world to see.
Because I’ve spent the past year building close friendships with other bloggers, it’s an easy ask to send over an idea and get it published. The hard part is the weeks and months of writing beforehand, preparing for the opportunity.
The power of habits
I do this so often it’s become habitual. Capture, create, ship. I don’t even think about it anymore. This is the power of incremental change. It’s so gradual you don’t even notice it.
Then one day, you get up and see your name in places you never imagined. What the world sees is that you’re suddenly everywhere, but you know the real story — the boring tale of someone slaving away at a desk after the kids have gone to bed and it’s just your passion keeping you up at night.
Maybe all success is like that. Just an unglamorous tale of habits practiced over time that eventually lead to a breakthrough. And if that’s the case, we had better enjoy the process.
Recent guest posts
In case you’re wondering, here are the articles and interviews that went live this week:
- Dream Big — Here’s How to Make it Come True [48Days.com]
- You Are a Writer Interview [Becoming Minimalist]
- The Secret to Becoming a Professional Writer [JonAcuff.com]
- The Simple Reason You’re Not a Writer (Yet) [Copyblogger]
- The Undistracted Writer’s Guide to… Uh, What Was I Saying? [Write to Done]
- Dear Son [The High Calling]
What about you? What’s your secret to being everywhere? Share in the comments.
*Photo credit: Aramil Liadon (Creative Commons)