A year of writing Snafu

I started writing this newsletter one year ago. This is the first time I’ve written regularly since publishing Responsive: What It Takes to Create a Thriving Organization and in the last twelve months I’ve developed a more consistent writing practice than I’ve had before. Here’s what I’ve learned.

Write to live, don’t live to write

One of the best books I’ve read this year is Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, about his lifetime of writing fiction. Stephen’s humility, playfulness, and the gratitude he feels for his craft are evident throughout the book.

One of the hundreds of notes I took from the book was the quote, “Write to live. Don’t live to write.”

Stephen advises that writing should be a tool to build the life we want, not vice versa. I think that’s true in any craft – writing, exercise, sales, or anything else.

Find a craft and stick with it

I’ve been really impressed by how quickly incremental growth builds up in my writing. I shouldn’t be surprised. I’ve learned before that practice pays off.

When two days have gone by without writing, it takes me longer to get back into the right mindset. But when I had a productive writing session yesterday, I’m more ready to make progress today.

Flexible goals

Some of the writing objectives I’ve set for myself this last year include:

  • Write every day
  • Write for an hour a day
  • Write for two hours a day
  • Write a thousand words a day

None of these goals has stuck! I’m still trying to find a consistent goal. But it has been useful to have something to measure my growth against, and then be willing to adjust.

A smaller goal

When I compare myself against people with really big newsletters or best-selling books, I want to quit. It’s discouraging to see how far I have to go.

The antidote is to make my next step smaller.

The only goal that I have successfully hit in the last year is to publish a thousand word article every week.

Then, I can build my next objective from there.

Creating ≠ editing

As a creative shop, Zander Media does a lot of brainstorming and revising of creative ideas. And I often shut down ideas before they’ve been fully formulated. (Sorry, team!)

Brainstorming and editing are different phases of the creative process. Both are important, but they can’t be done at the same time.

“There’s no such thing as writer’s block”

I have a water bottle on my writing desk, given to me by Seth Godin, that says “There’s no such thing as writer’s block.”

Writer’s block is what happens when you try to do both creative writing and editing at the same time; when you judge what you’re creating as you make it.

There is no such thing as writer’s block. There’s only your own self-judgment.

Preproduction > post-production

In video production, problems are best solved during the planning of a video shoot, not on set or in the edit.

Sometimes an actor gets sick, the weather doesn’t cooperate, or a scene doesn’t come together like it was supposed to. But it is easier to over prepare in pre-production than try to make up the difference afterwards.

In writing, too, preparation – an additional hour of outlining or reading another book for background – makes up for dozens of hours editing, re-writing, and starting over.


I couldn’t have kept pace with a weekly writing and publishing schedule had I not first developed a robust journaling practice. That practice is invisible from the outside, but fundamental to my development as a writer.

  • Want to write? Start writing just for yourself.
  • Trying to exercise? Decrease your ambition.
  • Learning to sell? Practice pitching when the stakes are low.

Watch this video and consider what small steps could lead to a bigger goal.

Until next week,

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