Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

What Blogging Every Day Taught Me About Creativity

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From Jeff: This is a guest post by David Santistevan. He is a worship music leader, pastor, and blogger. You can read his blog and follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Doing creative work every day, over and over, is hard.

Sometimes it feels great, like dozens of ideas are knocking at your mind’s door, waiting to be sent on a mission.

Other days, you want to quit. Or bang your head against a wall. Or do both while you cry, watch chick flicks, and eat gallons of chocolate ice cream.

Blogging every day has taught me many lessons. First off, I don’t really like chocolate ice cream or chick flicks all that much. Second, habits are the key to success in life.

Blog Every Day

Photo credit: Tom BKK (Creative Commons)

If you were to tell me five years ago that I would now be married, blog every day, be a full-time pastor, write songs for my church, exercise, and have time to walk the dog, I’d probably bang your head against a wall.

Most of us complain about not having enough time. The truth is, we have enough time to do whatever we want, but we’re not willing to make the sacrifices to do it.

Creativity Lessons from Blogging Every Day

Like I said, the discipline of blogging every day has taught me many lessons. Here are five habits that blogging has taught me about creativity:

1. Don’t underestimate the importance of a morning routine

Creative people can struggle to get things done. In order to put in the time necessary for my blog, I’ve had to wake up early. Like, 5 a.m. early. This has done more for me than improve my blogging.

The early morning hours seem to be the most productive for me and in Jon Acuff lingo, I “hustle” on my dream before the demands of the day drown it out.

I also love how Tim Sanders describes the need to feed your mind a good “breakfast.” During these early hours I write, read, and pray, setting the course for my day.

2. There’s more inside of you than you think

Sometimes people will ask me how I keep coming up with solid material to write. To be honest, the more you write, the more creative you become.

As long as you’re writing on something your passionate about, you’ll keep taking your writing to a new level the more you do it.

You’ll see things from a new perspective the more you do it. So, believe me when I say, there is more inside of you than you think. There are years of creativity in you that will only get deeper and more beautiful over time.

3. See every moment as an opportunity to learn

I used to just live — sort of let life happen while I had a good time.

But when you blog every day, it forces you to look for inspiration everywhere. Every conversation, every movie, every song, every walk, every book, every meal you eat.

The list continues. Learn everywhere and keep track of all your ideas.

4. Don’t fear criticism

I used to fear publishing because I was afraid of the negative reaction people would have. Or not having a reaction at all. I feared that people would hate me, think I’m too young, shallow, deep, naive, arrogant, uninformed, or simple.

As a creative, you can’t allow criticism to control you. Otherwise, your ideas will stay in your head. Blogging has taught me this: don’t fear criticism. Just keep creating.

5. Don’t waste time

If you blog every day, you’ll have to sacrifice good things for great things.

I don’t watch much TV because there’s usually a blog post that needs drafted, an idea that needs developed, something that needs shipped. I love this, because it trades mindless entertainment for vision.

I’m able to make a difference in other people’s lives through my writing. That keeps me going.

So there it is. That’s why I think you should write every day. Go do it. We are awaiting your brilliance.

What lessons has blogging taught you?

*Photo credit: Tom BKK (Creative Commons)

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About Jeff Goins

I help people tell better stories and make a difference in the world. My family and I live outside of Nashville, TN. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Google Plus. To get updates and free stuff, join my newsletter.

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  • Anonymous

    My lesson-learned-in-lots-of-blogging is similar to #2 (hehe sorry).

    :) 

    I’ve learned that I’m capable of a lot more than I think possible. Granted, there’s much less resistance in blogging than when your boss is being very specific about what he wants and you’ve got a lot less time to churn something out and people keep talking outside your office and you can’t think.

    Blogging is, many ways, the perfect creative outlet. So much freedom, so little expectations, and hardly any consequences (unless you spend your time badmouthing & venting aka. writing cathartically)… It’s a great spot to find out what you’re made of.

    • http://davidsantistevan.com David Santistevan

      Mandy, I totally agree. Blogging is a great creative outlet. Sounds like you have an exciting work environment there :)

      • Anonymous

        I was speaking hypothetically. *hypothetically* ;)

        • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

          Ah, yes. ;)

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      I loved that lesson, too.

  • http://thisismethinking.com/ Darrell Vesterfelt

    This is good Jeff.  I only started blogging everyday about a month ago, and I have grown a lot because of it.  

    First off, I started the early morning routine as well, which is transforming my life.  I used to be the late night guy, but due to Jet Lag, I have become the morning guy now and think I will stick with this one instead.

    I am also learning that blogging helps clear my mind.  When I write everyday, I am able to process through a lot more of my life and write.  I dont generally write reflective pieces on my blog, but i can take lessons learned from my life and write articles for my readers, which is just deeper processing.

    Thanks bro.

    • http://davidsantistevan.com David Santistevan

      I don’t think there’s anything religious about the early morning. It’s more about the first things you do in the morning. Rather than race to email and social networks, create. Use that precious time to make a difference. 

      I’ve also noticed that those who have small children prefer the early mornings, whereas if you don’t have that responsibility, late evenings can work just fine.

      • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

        Agreed. It’s about priorities. 5am and I are becoming friends (we were once enemies).

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      All credit goes to the guest blogger David. I enjoy your blog, Darrell. You’re doing great!

      • http://thisismethinking.com/ Darrell Vesterfelt

        thanks Jeff. 

  • http://bohemianbowmans.com/ Jessica

    #2.  Yes!

    Since dedicating to write every day, my awareness of subject matter has heightened and I’ve  learned to keep a list of possible topics I want to write about and get those ideas on pen and paper as they come to me.

    • http://davidsantistevan.com David Santistevan

      So cool, Jessica. I like how you put that – “awareness of your subject matter has heightened”. I used to fear, “what am I going to say after a while?” If you truly love what you write about, the creativity will deepen over time.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      I’m learning this, too. It’s making me a better writer. Painful to work thru, because I have to dish out a lot of junk, but worth it.

  • http://shawnsmucker.com Shawn Smucker

    Blogging has taught me that people respond more to unpolished thoughts than they do to air-tight arguments. Sometimes if I spend too much time putting together a post, it doesn’t leave enough room for dialogue.

    • http://davidsantistevan.com David Santistevan

      Truth has been spoken here :) Well said!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Agreed. Blogging is a conversation — like this one! Thanks for initiating it, David.

  • http://www.SammyAdebiyi.com Sammy A

    Great word David… Had a question for you if you don’t mind. When you say you blog everyday do you just mean you write everyday or you post blogs everyday? 

    I’m really struggling to find my sweet spot. I’d love to post everyday but it sometimes seems like overkill and I know Michael Hyatt has written about how you can kill traffic by writing too much or too little. I feel like I’m constantly guessing with how much to publish and my readers don’t know what to expect. 

    On one hand, I feel like some regulars are disappointed when I skip a day or two but i also fear others are like ‘oh no, not another post’ when they get 6 emails in 6 days. 

    Any words of advice on this? 

    What is your frequency in a week? Also do you have it mapped out like Mon, Tue, Thurs, Friday all week? And weekends a go too? 

    Sorry for all the questions. Hope its okay. 

    • http://davidsantistevan.com David Santistevan

      Great questions Sammy. I post 5-6 times per week. So yes, I post blogs nearly every day. I do a lot of advanced writing so I’m not stressed the day of :)

       You don’t have to do this, but it’s important that your readers know what to expect from you (every day, 3x/week, 1x/week). If all of a sudden I switched to a once a month schedule, I’d lose readers. Sure, some people have a hard time keeping up with a post per day. They’ll either catch up on the weekend or miss some posts. While some people do mention it’s hard to keep up, my traffic has more than doubled since I’ve decided to write and post everyday. Can’t deny the facts!

      Does that help?

      • http://www.SammyAdebiyi.com Sammy A

        Yea it does. But I have a couple more questions… [Please]

        Once I decide my frequency, do you think its important to communicate that expectation with my readers in a post or just go for it? 

        Also, do you have any opinions on weekend posts? Do you just treat friday-sunday posts as any other day?  

        Thanks man. Really means a lot that you answered my questions. I’ve been hitting my head against the wall trying to figure this out. I truly appreciate the input. 

        And thanks to Jeff for hosting this dialogue. 

        • http://davidsantistevan.com David Santistevan

          It doesn’t hurt to communicate it, but more important than communicating it is actually doing it. It’s easy to make a massive promise, it’s harder to follow through. Build the habit of posting.

          Weekend posts can be great. They say more people are online via social networks on the weekends. I take Sunday off but occasionally I’ll post a very interactive, easier post on Saturday – more questions, less content.

          It’s all about deciding what you can manage and sticking to it.

        • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

          You’re welcome. In my opinion, setting expectations for your readers is essential. You can do this on your home page or on a subscribe/about page. It needs to be clear, though. In fact, I think I could be a little more clear. Gonna go fix that.

  • http://twitter.com/jgangwish Jason Gangwish

    Great thoughts, David.

    I’ve learned that it is easy to create a different “you” on your blog than what is really there…. effort must be made to be real (transparent) in both your blog and real life to REALLY connect with people.

    • http://davidsantistevan.com David Santistevan

      Agreed, Jason. Authenticity is so important. How do you personally do that?

  • http://www.johnmichaellane.com John Lane

    Great post David! The are some amazing unintended benefits to blogging! I just started blogging every day since the middle of April. Since then, I have found that I read alot more, I listen more intently, and I seem to be more intentional with my day overall. It has done wonders for my productivity and I’m not sure why. I think its because blogging has forced me to be more focused. Focus is a quality that seems to be lost by most people my age (25) and blogging has helped me rediscover it!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Me, too. It took my six years to find, though. :(

    • http://davidsantistevan.com David Santistevan

      John, looks like you have a post outline in this comment. OK, this is getting scary. I’m starting to look at everything through blog post ideas. May need counseling :)

      • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

        hah! you’re ruined, David!

        • http://davidsantistevan.com David Santistevan

          Completely. And utterly. Ruined. At least when I get through this I can break into blogger counseling market :)

      • http://www.johnmichaellane.com John Lane

        I was actually just thinking that! I’m sure it will make its way to the blog eventually! 

  • Anonymous

    It certainly keeps me creative. As I look back over the last year, I can see how much my writing has improved just by focusing on it everyday. 

    I usually don’t allow myself to go to sleep at night unless I have written something. 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      I’ve experienced a similar thing.

    • http://davidsantistevan.com David Santistevan

      I like that accountability – no writing, no sleep. That’s how I get my butt out the door to go running. No running – no relaxing :)

      • Anonymous

        Yes! Good plan. 

      • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

        A lot in common with running and writing. I do both begrudgingly.

  • http://twohourblogger.com Martyn Chamberlin

    This is a great post….

    but you made a grammatical mistake that really bugs me whenever I see it! “Everyday” is an adjective. If you’re wanting to use it as a noun, it’s supposed to be “every day.” This is one of THE most commonly misused words in the blogosphere. One of these days I’m going to do a post dedicated to this.

    okay, got that off my chest. Proceed. :-)

    • http://davidsantistevan.com David Santistevan

      Thanks for pointing that out, Martyn. At least it was correct in the title, right? :)

      • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

        Yeah, I fixed that in the title, but didn’t see the other stuff. I fixed it. Thanks, man!

  • Sarahlake

    SO interesting and timely. I was just feeling some despair because the stress and busyness of the end of the school year has really thrown me for a loop. I thought, ‘why am I even trying to write?’ because it just feels impossible right now! Thanks for the encouragement! I now know my next steps.

    • http://davidsantistevan.com David Santistevan

      Awesome. Great feeling, isn’t it?

      • Sarahlake

        Yes it is!!!

  • Anonymous

    David, a very inspired and inspirational post! I especially like your points #2 and #5. In your first point you equate writing with being “breakfast” for the mind.  I agree and I also view it as mental calisthenics that help keep the mind limber and sharp. Nicely done.

    @Jeff, thanks for sharing your forum!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      With quality bloggers like David, it’s a pleasure.

    • http://davidsantistevan.com David Santistevan

      I can’t take credit for the “mind’s breakfast” idea. Be sure to read Tim Sander’s book “Today We Are Rich”. It’s an incredibly helpful read. So much of that book is applicable to blogging.

      • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

        I love breakfast.

        • Anonymous

          Personally, the hobbit in me is partial to second breakfast….

          • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

            What about eleventsies?

            • http://davidsantistevan.com David Santistevan

              LOTR nerds unite!

      • Anonymous

        Will do, thanks for the recommendation!

  • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com @kylereed

    I have found that those time distracters are not there because simply I do not have time for them.
    I have also started to find myself reading more, looking for more ideas, and seeing everything as inspiration. 

    Thanks for sharing

    • http://davidsantistevan.com David Santistevan

      Good points, Kyle. We should be so action oriented that we don’t have time to waste. Awesome.

      • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

        Love that.

  • Al Pittampalli

    There is something magical about those morning hours.  I wake up sometimes at 5AM too to write.  I’ve heard great authors like Stephen King say the same thing.  I aim to make morning writing my religion…not there yet, but I’m on my way.

    • http://davidsantistevan.com David Santistevan

      I heard Leo Babauta talk about waking up for 15 minutes earlier day after day until you’re waking up at the desired time. If you’re used to waking up at 8 and immediately jolt yourself into 5am, your body will hate you :)

      • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

        My body hated me, but I did it. Sorry, body. I got a dream to pursue!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      There really is. I can’t believe I do it. I stink at getting up early, but something is compelling me to get up every morning and write, read, and create.

  • http://www.thedailywalk.net Adam

    You noted two I have learned in: There is more in you than you think and don’t waste time. Also I have learned the importance of scheduling. Similar I guess to your morning routine…

    • http://davidsantistevan.com David Santistevan

      Scheduling is so important. Without it you’ll be totally stressed.

      • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

        So that’s the secret? Dang. ;)

        • http://davidsantistevan.com David Santistevan

          I’ve kept it hidden all these years and decided to unveil it in the comments of your blog. Don’t you feel privileged? 

          • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

            Indeed.

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  • Tamika Evans

    This post inspires me! I just started my blog YESTERDAY!!!! :) thanks buddy

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      What’s the URL, Tamika?

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      What’s the URL, Tamika?

    • http://davidsantistevan.com David Santistevan

      Rock it Tamika! Yea, we want to see it for sure.

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    I’m doing the 5:00 am thing by accident. That’s when our pup wakes up and needs to go (I suppose I don’t need to explain any further).

    An early morning walk opens me up to God, His world, and the world of ideas. It also wears the dog out so I can sit at the computer and write down those observations and thoughts.

    Repetition, routine, and hard work have shown me that you remain more focused on conversations and experiences. It’s not that I talk with people or do things so I can write a blog. It’s just that the blog engages me with the world I live in. I make more connections between what I’m engaged in and what I’m writing about.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      That pup needs discipline! I don’t let my dog out of his crate until 7am. I treasure those early hours.

      • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

        Yes, she does. It’s the end of week one, the beginning of week two in our home so we’re both learning a new routine (for her new place, for me new time).

    • http://davidsantistevan.com David Santistevan

      If I don’t let my dog out, he whines. When I let him out, he jumps on my computer. Somehow I still manage to write :) 

      I love how you put that “blogging engages me with the world I live in”. Love it.

      • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

        Thanks, David. I appreciate your encouragement. Write on!

  • http://moonchild11.wordpress.com/ Moonsn11

    This was encouraging! I’ve been trying to write everyday for the past couple of weeks (since reading Stephen King’s On Writing. Best book on writing ever, by the way), and have failed miserably, mostly due  to points 4 and 5. thanks for the tips. :)

    • http://davidsantistevan.com David Santistevan

      Glad I could help! I’m hearing about this book all over the place. I suppose I should jump on that train.

  • http://twitter.com/JRandorff James Randorff

    Jeff, thank you for putting this out there!  This serves me as both advice and inspiration… I have already begun my 5am morning routine (this is a real mind-stretch for a night-owl musician), but I am going to start focusing it more on my blog after my Bible devotions are completed.

    Also, every time an idea strikes me, I find myself whipping out my iPhone to type it into my “Blog Ideas” notebook in Evernote.  I can’t even express how helpful that is!

    Your wisdom is a blessing, Jeff.  Thank you for sharing it with the world.

  • http://twitter.com/JRandorff James Randorff

    Jeff, thank you for putting this out there!  This serves me as both advice and inspiration… I have already begun my 5am morning routine (this is a real mind-stretch for a night-owl musician), but I am going to start focusing it more on my blog after my Bible devotions are completed.

    Also, every time an idea strikes me, I find myself whipping out my iPhone to type it into my “Blog Ideas” notebook in Evernote.  I can’t even express how helpful that is!

    Your wisdom is a blessing, Jeff.  Thank you for sharing it with the world.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Thanks, James, but for this post, all the credit goes to David, the guest blogger. Thanks for reading!

    • http://davidsantistevan.com David Santistevan

      Thanks for reading, James! Your comment sounds a lot like me: 5am, musician, evernote. All things that I’m doing right now :)

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  • Emil Dela Cruz

    Brilliant post. Subscribing here is probably the best thing i’ve done, with regards to seeking advice for my writing. I like the part when you said that you would trade off watching television just to write. It’s true that while television can be entertaining, it pales in comparison to the gratifying feeling of finishing a blog post. Keep it up! These are great insights.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      thanks.

  • HC Clarke

    Not one thins

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  • http://www.jessicaakent.com/ Jessica A. Kent

    This is great.  I’m learning many of these things too as I’m attempting to blog more, and increase my writing productivity in general.  In the past week there have been times when, given the option of doing something relaxing but mindless, I’ve said, “No, I have to go write.”
    I think blogging every day as well forces you to be professional.  It’s not about waiting for the Muse, it’s about churning it out, every day.  It’s really helping me to write on cue, write within a time frame, etc.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Love that, Jessica. Here’s to being a professional.

      • http://www.jessicaakent.com/ Jessica A. Kent

        Thanks! Glad I found your blog, Jeff.

  • http://twitter.com/AllisonReeceART Allison Reece

    Hi Jeff!
    Great post! Also heart warming to see another God Lover out there following his creative lead and sharing that with the world. Wow, 79 comments already! Awesome, dude. Keep up the great work!

    What has blogging taught me, you ask?

    I can be pushed to learn and  to do more than I ever expected. And I need to be creatively pushed, I am a visual artist located in the beautiful artsy city of Asheville, NC,  right on the other side of  the  Smoky Mountains from you.

    1.) First of all, I’m professionally getting connected with wonderful artists I would haven’t never had the chance to get to know otherwise.

    2.) It  pushed me through my fears of writing. I had struggles with the English grammar, sentence structure and still do at times, but getting better. But mostly as an artist, I have to work at getting my artistic voice out there.

    3.)Fears of rejection aren’t that painful for me, but I see feedback as helpful. I have to paint regularly and a blog to keep up, so that constant pressure is good for people that don’t have a job where they have to show up. I have to show up for work here in my art studio daily just like you showing up for your job with your employer.

    4.) With my art blog, I been blessed to have touched someone’s life and helped with a creative process in another artist. So blogs are educational tools and inspiring as well.

    5.) Connecting with people is far greater than watching a reality TV show and more fun. Exception: the hubby and I got on our Twitter accounts and watched the Twitter comments fly while the Grammy Show was on, that was fun I have to admit. Might do that Oscar night.

    6.) It just challenges me creatively speaking and I do look notice things out there in the world and think about sharing that artist’s work on my blog or fun thing to do in our wacky city. And I’m learning more professionally through internet courses, other blogs, and sharing ideas with other Twitter artists than I ever could have received doing it on my own.

    7.) To realize balance is so important or this social media world can take over my lifestyle/health in a second if I allow it do to so. Then I might just need to back off and restructure my time and priorities, which allows me to readjust in a healthier direction.

    Thanks for sharing your creative spirit with us!
    Allison Reece/Visual Artist
    Asheville, NC
    http://www.allisonreeceoriginals.blogspot.com/

  • http://6birds.net/ Liza

    This is interesting. I don’t blog everyday, but I blog a lot. When I have an idea, I’ll type it up if I can and save it in my drafts.
    I think the biggest lesson blogging has taught me is to be open-minded. There are a lot of different opinions out there.

  • Karthik Puvvada

    Hello Jeff, 

    Loved your post here and your 5 lessons are very close to my learnings from blogging every day for almost an year now. My blog is http://bethepurplecow.tumblr.com/
    “There’s more inside of you than you think”, 
    this is so true. I wouldn’t have had the guts to even imagine that I could create the content that I did so seamlessly, but eventually I did. The magic is in perseverance. 
    Glad to meet you, I’m from Nashville, TN.

  • http://www.thewackywongs.com/ Vincci

    Good list! I’m always afraid to post too often because I’m afraid it will scare people away or I’ll run out of ideas. But you’re right, it does force you to look for inspiration. 

  • Nicola Slawson

    Just stumbled across this. I made a New Years Resolution to blog every day this year. I didn’t really think of the implications when I started it but the further I go, the more determined I am to just…keep…on…blogging! This post has given me some extra motivation so thanks! 

    This is my blog btw: http://www.nicolaruth.blogspot.com

    Thanks 

    Nikki

  • Browser Only

    Great collection of thoughts there, you see many articles frowning on daily blogging however I think at the early stages it helps to build up a base of both content and followers, and then take it down a notch later on to an acceptable level.

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