Since last summer, I’ve been writing and sharing an essay each week through my email newsletter. Mostly these essays focus on productivity, creativity, and resilience. I also use them to share what I’m learning as a full-time academic and part-time small business owner.
This essay is #52, so I thought I would go meta and reflect a bit on what I’ve learned from writing regularly like this for a full-year.
- Writing a weekly essay is a great way to keep your writing muscles warm. Regular readers will know that I write a lot aside from this weekly essay. Rather than detracting from my other writing projects, I’ve found these weekly essays a great way to ensure that I’m writing something creative each week even when my other writing is on hiatus because of travel or other obligations. The essays have also helped me to reflect on my writing and to stay accountable to it, like when I debriefed my writing retreat or when I shared about my 30-hour writing challenge.
- You can gather ideas from just about anywhere. Some weeks, it’s hard to decide what to write about. The well does eventually run a bit dry, especially when I have a lot of other projects going on. However, I’ve found that by focusing on my day-to-day struggles and questions, I can come up with something to share about how I’m learning and growing. That’s how I ended up writing about making lists, setting seasonal goals, and learning from other creative experts.
- People relate to all kinds of topics, struggles, and triumphs that I’ve shared. Sometimes I hesitated before sharing something more personal in my newsletter, but I’ve always gotten great responses when I write about something I’m struggling with or processing. For example, my essay about the marches after the election received several email responses from readers expressing their appreciation. Similarly, when I shared about launching my new podcast project, I received lots of congratulatory notes.
- Writing to strangers is not that different than writing to friends. At this point, there are more people receiving my email newsletter that I’ve never met than people I know personally. That means that each week I’m writing to an audience that is, at least partially, strangers. Whatever you put out on the internet is there for all to see, and that can be a little scary, so I just imagine each week that I’m sharing my essay with an extended group of friends that I want to connect with — it hasn’t failed me yet!
- ROI is a long game. After a year of writing, some people might ask about my return on investment (ROI). What have I gotten from the time and energy I’ve put into writing an essay every week? Has it been worth it? While it’s true that the weekly essays I create are part of my business strategy — I want to connect with my audience, share some of my work, and build an email list of people who are interested in what I’m up to — I think of this part of my business as a long-game ROI approach. The most important thing about writing regularly is how you build up credibility with your audience as someone who offers stable and reliable content. That’s not something that happens in the short-term.
- Writing weekly essays encourages reflection. My weekly essays have encouraged me to deeply reflect on questions that impact my life and work in such a way that I can share those reflections with others. I have to think about how my own experiences might be of use to others who are living very different lives. This has led to essays on what it means to call yourself an expert, how to take yourself seriously, and the importance of giving yourself permission.
- Documenting your work is incredibly valuable. When I look at the content I’ve produced over the last year through this essay series, the You’ve Got This podcast, and The Anatomy of a Book podcast, it all combines to be a journal of this stage of my life. Having a record of what I was thinking about, questioning, and learning during this time has been very valuable to me as a grow as a professional. If I can share what I’m learning with others and help them grow as well, all the better.
Writing these weekly essays and connecting with readers has truly been a highlight of my year. Thanks to those of you who have followed along the entire time and welcome to others of you who are just joining the conversation — I’m happy to continue connecting with you!
To think on:
- What practices have you been doing regularly for a year or more? How are the benefiting you?
- What’s been your favorite weekly essay this year?