How many times have you created a goal and never achieved it? We’ve all done it. Most of us set new goals every January and by March we know that we’re not going to achieve them.
In January I set a goal to start writing a blog. My goal for the blog was to help me become a better a writer, create content for my customers and increase my visibility on social media for new opportunities. If you’re reading this piece on my new website jasonddempsey.com and asking yourself, “Well, you did it, so what’s the problem?”
The problem was that I made the exact same goal in 2019 and didn’t write a damn thing.
What could I do to make sure that 2020 was not going to be a repeat of 2019?
I first needed to determine what went wrong last year. I set the goal to start a blog to use as a tool to share product stories and gain meetings and sales with my customers. I came up with a lot of good ideas but never really wrote much.
So what could I do? Luckily for me I found a book that said you shouldn’t set goals. Problem solved.
The New Year can’t officially start until you’ve made your resolutions and purchased a new self-help book. After doing some research it seemed the options were to Unfu*k Yourself or Start Building Good Habits. I went with the latter because it talked about not setting goals and focusing on a system, and I already had a therapist for the former. The book I’m referencing is “Atomic Habits” by James Clear.
Early in the book, I was really struck by what the writers refers to as the three layers of behavior change: a change in outcome, a change in your process, or a change in your identity. Outcomes are concerned with the results, process revolves around habits, and identity is concerned with your self-image. Clear states that identity is the true behavior change and the only reason you’ll stick with a new habit is if it becomes part of your identity. If I wanted to be successful this year then my goal shouldn’t be to start a blog but to become a writer. That was an identity I hadn’t considered.
The more I thought about it the more it made sense. Becoming a writer didn’t have to mean becoming an award winning author, but if I wanted a blog where I consistently put out quality content then I would need to act and work like a writer to see myself as one. So I needed to write more to be a writer but the lack of writing is mostly what held me back in 2019. I was confident in my ideas for blog topics and the overall approach of how it would help me and my customers, but I only thought of myself as a decent writer who could use some help with grammar. I would also need some tips on writing a blog for business.
I discovered “Everybody Writes” by Ann Handley with a simple Google search for books on business writing. This book seemed to be on everyone’s best of list and after a quick read on her website I knew it was the book for me. Ann talked about how everyone was already a writer because of emails and social media and even though I did those things I didn’t feel like a writer. But it was her approach to writing that showed me I could be one. She emphasized how a good piece or writing was assembled and not written. She outlined how to put the blog post together with instructions and even recommended not doing it all in one sitting.
Armed with this new outline, other solid writing tips and no pressure to feel I had to write a masterpiece in one sitting I didn’t feel as overwhelmed. Maybe I could be a writer? The next writing expert helped me put the final pieces of my writing identity puzzle together and also provided some unexpected business advice.
Dorie Clark has appeared on a few podcast episodes that I’ve listened to so I was familiar with her story — a story that many of us find ourselves in today due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She was let go from her journalism job around 9/11 and had to find a way to re-invent herself and make money. She decided that she needed multiple revenue streams and even wrote a book titled “Reinventing You.” I didn’t read the book but instead took the online course on her website called, “Rapid Content Creation Masterclass.”
The course became the perfect set of instructions I needed for writing a business blog. She simply gave me all the rules I needed to follow to write a blog post. There were helpful tools for creating topics, testing the title’s strength, and ways to bolster each paragraph. The Rapid Content Creation Masterclass allowed me to create my own blog writing template that made it easy for me to sit down and finally start writing—a template that I one day plan to refine so I can share with others who would like to start a blog to help their sales career or business.
Even though I made myself an easy-to-use template and the writing seemed to be coming more naturally I just wasn’t writing enough—especially if I planned to put out content on a regular basis. You see, I had created an awesome template that helped me write but I still didn’t have a system that would make me a writer.
Next up is my post on creating a plan around my new schedule that helped me find the time to become a writer and discover an even more important identity.
3 thoughts on “How I Became a Writer”
Good stuff Jason! You can’t start a fire 🔥 without a spark ⚡️
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Hi, Jason. I’m glad you found Everybody Writes useful, and I loved Atomic Habits, too. Congrats on your transformation!
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Jason, British author Somerset Maughm wrote in his autobiography “The Summing Up” that “no one writes as well as they’d like to, we only write as well as we can.” Ann Handley’s books absolutely help with the “can” part of writing. I’ll be making a point to give Automatic Habits a read, too.