TLDR Wrote short articles - didn’t work. Tried long pieces - exploded in traffic. Bad email sign up conversion rate - didn’t get results. Understood that big, valuable articles with SEO are the best working. The pressure of writing a lot and spending a lot of time on every piece ruined motivation. Didn’t write for a year because of anxiety. I started worrying about quality over quantity and stopped writing altogether.
Writer's Block Rehab
I have not written anything, or at least not much, since around a year ago. Approximately one year and 28 days ago.
This happened right after writing every day an article for 365 days as well as a book chapter for 200 days.
I know what you think. This all can feel like a Writer's block meme.
On May 1st 2021, I went on a holiday. After doing reflection, it is not the best idea to break your productivity streak with a holiday.
I became productive after coronavirus isolation and ended that day.
I went for a holiday in Dubai with friends and came back a different person, not strictly better or worse, just different.
That person didn’t write. He didn’t code and mostly didn’t try to progress as a creator. That person only consumed.
I love this quote by Scottish novelist Robert Louis Stevenson:
"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant."
In other words, don’t judge each day by what you consume but by what you create. Create more, consume less. Otherwise, you will be in a consumption spiral that leads nowhere.
There is an excellent illustration of this by my friend Omar Itani
That is exactly how I lived, and I am regretting it.
I am only 24, but it sometimes seems that I have wasted the past 24 years doing nothing but being a burden to the world and without creating anything.
That needs to change.
Let’s try to drill down why I stopped writing, coding, and growing as a creator.
How to get over the Writer's Block
I just want to say a couple of things about the Writer's block and how you can deal with it.
The points that I am going to list are not set in stone and are just the things that worked for me.
Stop trying to make something perfect and just make something.
Instead of writing a plan before starting to write, just start writing anything.
Use the 5-minute rule. Just write for 5 minutes, and if you don't feel like continuing, stop after that. Most of the time, you won't feel the time passing and will continue for longer.
Try morning pages. I know for a fact, that not only doing morning pages help me with the writing, but they help me overall in my life with everything that I do. Every morning I open my ROAM Research and start writing. 600 words are the minimum that I write.
I might not be the best writer, but constantly writing and every morning getting over writer's block I get better and improve. Take every practice you can take to get better.
Understand that writing is not a sprint but a marathon.
Get your head around improving instead of finishing something, that way you are most likely to finish and be happier in the process.
Why I started writing in the first place?
My English as a semi-native speaker was awful.
I wanted to get a content outlet channel that I owned.
The reason why I write is simple. I want my ideas improved, spread and valued. I want to teach people and help people with their problems.
I want to make sure that every time I struggle to find the truth and do a lot of research, I can share my findings.
My reader would save time and probably money instead of doing similar research or struggling and making a mistake yourself.
Extensive research shows that when 2- and 3-year-old children were shown a correct solution to a tool-using task (which they could not solve spontaneously), all the children in both age groups managed at least a partial solution. When children were shown an incorrect answer followed by a correct solution, 2-year-olds again produced only a partial solution. By contrast, most 3-year-olds made a solution.
Study 2 replicated this age change in a separate sample of children with a different tool-using task. Study 2 also showed that 3-year-olds benefit from observing an incorrect action when it can be contrasted with a correct action: they chose the more effective of the two actions.
The two studies indicate that children do not indiscriminately imitate actions on a tool by three years of age but selectively reproduce those actions that have a desired causal effect.
Why is this important? I need to justify why I am writing and why I shouldn’t feel like a wannabe and a fraud.
Excellent research shows that something that can seem normal to you can be life-changing to others. (I can’t find it right now, but I will add it here.)
That is the reason why I am sharing all of the simple things that seem unimportant at first.
And believe me when I say that I write a lot and that I my research. I really do.
This Roam Research Graph Overview is a a great example of how much I write.
If you want to read and watch my piece on how and why I user ROAM read this.
But why did you stop writing?
Okay, so why did I actually stop writing if it is so important to me?
Well, I was not seeing any results from my days, weeks, months and even years of work. I didn’t see a change in readers, followers, and email subscribers.
The worst part is that I knew why I wasn’t growing.
My pieces were meant to be something that I could write every single day in the morning and call quits.
The pieces weren’t meant to be the long reads. Extensive knowledge dumps that cover everything and makes it convenient for everyone to study and get something important.
The SEO optimised articles are valuable articles that answer some questions that the user has.
I have tried writing one quite a few times.
The first time was back when I thought about only writing about marketing principles, as I was mostly reading and searching for something in that space. I quickly found out that it was not something that makes me excited and captured.
I felt that all I was doing was writing what others knew already.
But the article on the nano influencers still lives in this blog, even though it is irrelevant and gets zero traffic.
The other serious take that I did on writing a long and extensive article on something that I found interesting is Benefits of Walking For Anyone.
Before I talk about the success of this article, I want to say a couple of words about my channels of distribution.
As I have no real audience to speak of right now, I posted a piece of content I shared on Twitter, LinkedIn, Telegram, IndieHackers, HackerNews(I got banned soon after my success story), relevant Reddit and Instagram.
In this way, I got around 10-50 views on my content. Not bad for the amount of effort it took, but not great.
I was following the well-known guide to getting big in the blogging world.
Be consistent with your content, post it everywhere, and slowly build your email list and followers.
365 days of writing forward, my audience didn’t grow. My email list is low at 14 followers, with 10 being real. And me being afraid to target their mailbox with irrelevant information and them unsubscribing.
Benefits of Walking
So after knowing my way of promoting content, we can talk about the article that blew up.
So after knowing my way of promoting content, we can talk about the article that blew up.
I got first place on HackerNews
It was amazing. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
The traffic was significant, but… I only got 10 email subscribers because of my lack of email sign-up forms, lack of motivation to improve the website, or maybe both.
Awful conversion rate. If any marketer saw that, he would have screamed for the waste of a huge opportunity.
I mean, marketing and email sign up is an entirely different article altogether.
So this was my first try at writing an extensive article, and it blew up.
Fast forward a year, it generates no traffic.
But either way, it was a success, and just as I see all around the internet, the articles that work and blog posts that consistently generate leads are big blog posts and not small ones. So the only logical conclusion should be to write these big articles.
Big is from 1200 words to 2200 words (this one is above 2200 words already).
I understand this, and most importantly, I thought that I had the full courage and passion for writing those articles. But…
Because every time you sit down and are used to finishing an article every single day, working on one for a couple of days feels like a drag.
After that, you have to edit, improve and do everything in order for it to be appealing, not dull and just simply readable to the user.
I don’t know what this is, but editing feels like such a drag.
To the extent that I was considering getting an editor from Fiverr. But as the klimy.co doesn’t give me any monetisation to speak of, I felt terrible for investing in it.
Fast forward a year, I would be better off spending $5 for an editor per article instead of not writing whatsoever.
Btw, if you are an editor and reading this, message me anywhere.
So first example of how thinking about perfection and the best content that I will be proud of sharing caused me to stop doing my hobby.
I am not really vocal about me being a novel writer.
Yes, I write fantasy novels. And if you ask me, they are not too bad.
I have more than 1 million reads, and my rating is above 4.0, which is really great.
If you want to get context, just try reading it for yourself here is the link.
I was a passionate reader of the genre and lived a fantasy novel enthusiast life.
Yes, writing there required a lot of effort, and it was at least 1200 words per chapter per day. But it was worth it.
I was creating worlds. I was creating stories and battling enemies. I was living the dream life.
Not long after I started, I got contracted and was getting a salary of 300 dollars per month for my efforts from the publisher.
But guess what happened? My new readers and followers killed my motivation when my story started getting popular.
Isn’t this a little bit funny?
I started getting a lot of comments and edits on the first chapters of the story while I was working on the 100s chapters.
I went back, edited, and changed things, but I cringed at every word and plot because I have grown as a writer considerably since the day I started writing.
My idea was to rewrite the starting of the story all together.
You have probably guessed that this was a bad idea.
And before I knew it, the sadness, amount of work, and just overall fatigue got the better of me, and I lost all interest in the story.
I knew that editing made my story better, but it took too much time and just killed my soul and passion from within.
I still get calls, emails and messages asking to continue and to finish the story. But I am too ashamed and too sad.
I first wrote this website klimy.co on Django and on Bootstrap as a CSS framework.
I didn’t know anything about JS frameworks and couldn’t bother with them. Still, after trying to do some projects on Upwork, I realised that not a single website could survive without the JS framework as long as it needs reactivity and smooth working.
At the same time, I also learnt about a thing called TailwindCSS, a great CSS framework that would have let me worry less about stupid indentation and finding the name that I called a class and be more productive coding.
But guess what happened. TailwindCSS was a really annoying bi*** to integrate, and Vue that I chose as a JS framework would have only worked as a CDN, and I was determined to make it work as a full-fledged program.
Once again, I couldn’t make either of the things work and because working with bootstrap and no JS framework, making any changes to the website seemed like a wasted time and effort.
So instead of improving and working, I didn’t touch the blog's code for around one year.
It is not like I didn’t know what to do.
This is with the Trello board full of changes and ideas that I had as well as a bunch of ideas that I wanted to add to the website as separate apps.
All of that is gone because of stress and anxiety.
Fast forward a year from Writer's Block
Now I am writing again in my blog, and who knows, maybe I will give “Game to Live” another shot again.
Life is an unpredictable thing really, so I can’t say what will happen and when.
I have a successful active business, a new adventure in the world of marketing agencies and a couple of crypto startups.
I am not doing awful, but not impressive either.
What I know is that I am in control of my life now, and I will try my best to follow the best practices and only listen to good advice.
You readers can give me some advice if you want to.
I have never had a long term strategy and SEO strategy.
That is why my blog is not growing right now.
But I am fine with not growing as fast as long as I do anything.
I like myself in 5 years, where I have an easy way to cringe at my past and see what was inside my head back then.
After reflecting and editing this article, I have calmed down and feel that progress on the path to a comeback is made.
I needed to express, let go and set my priority straight.
I have limited time. I can not afford to waste it.
We all have a different reason why we started something and quit. But the essential point is to learn from these experiences and become a better man/woman.
I am happy with what I have, and I am proud to be here.
There is a considerable path to success in my life, and I am pretty much clueless about where it will take me, but I am willing to try.
Thank you for reading. Hopefully, you follow my god damn mailing list and social media.
Share, tweet and tell me what you think of the article if you have read it thus far.