Writing

How Being Accountable Got Me Off the Couch Once and for All

Photo by  Naomi Hébert  on  Unsplash

And it’s not as hard as you think

“There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly live.” — Dalai Lama

It was a hot summer, 16 years ago, I still see the image in my head. I think about it frequently, especially when I reflect on what I’ve become.

I was laying on the couch, playing my video games on my Gameboy Advance. That was my ritual after school or after work.

My older brother came back from work and saw me there. He looked at me and said this sentence I can never forget:

“You’ll never do anything in life.” — nameless brother

Ouch.

But he wasn’t completely wrong though. After all, all he was seeing was this kid “wasting” his life playing video games on the couch every single day.

From that moment, I decided I would do something with my life. I had to prove him wrong. It’s been 16 years, and every time I think about a new achievement in my life, I think of that moment and can’t help but think to myself: “Ha! Proved you wrong!”.

I’ve actually never told him that story. He probably doesn’t recall telling me this anyway.

My point is, I had something to prove to someone, and that has carried me far.

 

Accountability in the More Recent Years

I was in a similar dip a little over a year ago when I was still working at my 9–5 job. It was a great job, but I really needed to satisfy my entrepreneurship itch.

Everything changed when I received a grant to work on Soul Reaper, my company’s first ambitious game project. And around the same time, my wife was about to start a new adventure and go on her first Medecins Sans Frontiere mission. That meant we would be apart for 6 months.

It’s around that time I started making all my goals public, with the people around me at coworking spaces, but also publicly on Medium.com. By telling people about what I set out to do, I couldn’t let them down. I didn’t want to be perceived as someone who’s all talk and no game.

Essentially, I started being more accountable for my actions and goals.

In the short span of six months, I was able to accomplish the following:

  • I learned 18 new skills, including fiction and non-fiction writing, drawing, NGO photography, storytelling, public speaking, day-to-day Spanish conversations, learning to learn, eComm management, and more;

  • I got involved in more than 7 projects, most of which I’ve started;

  • I met prolific writers and other personalities;

  • I gained 7kg of muscles;

  • I wrote and published 2 books;

  • I released a video game;

  • I opened up the world’s first and only story-driven online store;

  • I diversified my revenue sources, getting paid for 4+ different projects;

  • I got published by top Medium publications like The Startup;

  • I contributed to Entrepreneur Magazine, Thought Catalog, and Thrive Global;

  • I became a top writer in 15 categories on Medium;

  • and more!

That’s the power of accountability!

 

How YOU Can Be Accountable Too and Get Out of Bed

Step 1: Low-risk, low-effort, low-effectiveness

Involve a friend in you weekly and monthly goal-setting. Meet weekly and discuss what went right, what went wrong, how you can do better, what your goals are for next week, and what actions will you take towards these goals.

Step 2: Medium-risk, medium-effort, medium-effectiveness

Make your goals and progress public, just like I did around the coworking space and through my writing on Medium. No one wants to look like a fool in public.

Step 3: High-risk, medium-effort, high-effectiveness

Join an accountability program. An accountability program is a system that puts incentives for you to do things. There are many different approaches to this, including gamification, fear of loss, social recognition, coaching, and more.

 

Conclusion

Being accountable changed my life forever. I went from a completely unambitious kid to a serial entrepreneur. I went from having no credibility to being a mentor to people.

If you feel stuck in life, start being accountable. It’s a great first step towards taking back control of your life.

Start by involving friends. Then make your goals and progress public. When you’re ready for the next step, give an accountability program a try.

Like me, you CAN get out of bed and achieve more!

You can do this!

Thanks for reading, clapping, sharing and following! :)

First published here: https://writingcooperative.com/how-being-accountable-got-me-off-the-couch-once-and-for-all-aa7be79bebb7

21 Proven Ways To Find Inspiration For Your Stories

Photo by  Nathan Dumlao  on  Unsplash

Bonus tip: Bookmark this story for future inspiration!

Yesterday I was chatting with my friend Prithviraj Pillai and he was asking me how to find inspiration to write stories regularly on Medium. I thought it would be a great topic to write about!

For the month of January, I was aiming to improve my writing capabilities and figured that by writing one story per day, I really should be improving.

But to be honest, I was afraid I would not really know what to say. I thought that after one week, my inspiration would run dry.

I could not have been more wrong!

Turns out I have much more to say then I thought I would. Back in mid-February, I was starting to lack subjects and took 3 days off. When came time to start again, I was overflowing with ideas.

But I didn’t understand how.

So when came time to answer his question, I dug deep into what inspires me to write what I write and I came up with this pretty exhaustive list.

I hope this will help you find inspiration for your next story!

(The ratings I put below are about how frequently I use a trick to come up with stories. 1 means not frequently, and 5 means very frequently. This will be different for everyone. Feel free to make up your own rating.)

Answer A Question

1. Any Answer You Give To Someone Verbally

During your day to day conversation, almost inevitably, someone will ask you a question to which you’ll have an answer. Pay attention your own answer, and if it is insightful and useful to the other person, chances are it probably is interesting for your audience too.

Just don’t write about your answer to directions to the toilets, it’s not a very interesting topic!

My rating: 6/10

2. Write About A Great Answer Someone Gave You

One of my favourite story from MR. Molly Maguire is The Best Piece Of Advice I Ever Got. It’s a genuine story about great advice he received from his Trading Advisor. If you receive great advice from someone, pass it along to your readers!

My rating: 3/10

3. Answer A Question From Your Audience

I’m very often inspired by questions or comments I receive in the comments section. People tend to have good follow up questions to things you’ve written in your story. I’d say about 20–25% of my inspiration comes from that.

My rating: 8/10

4. Browse Quora For Questions To Answer

Quora has an incredible amount of great questions waiting to be answered on any topic. If your answer is in long format, consider moving it over as a Medium story. I believe that’s how Nicolas Cole started, and look where he is now.

My rating: 6/10

Be Aware

5. Pay Attention To Your Conversations

I like to think that I’m a good listener. When people talk to me, I try to genuinely get what the other person is saying and take mental notes on the key points of a conversation. Frequently enough, even in regular conversations, a good topic comes up that’s worth writing about.

My rating: 5/10

6. Listen To Other People’s Conversations

Sometimes you overhear people talk about a topic of interest, or argue about something. Without realizing, you make up your own opinion on the subject in your head. Articles with multiple points of views make for interesting stories in my opinion.

My rating: 2/10

7. Just Pause And Look Around You

A lot of my stories from January and early February come from me taking a moment to look around me at The Living Room or at the beach. There’s something inspiring about watching other people do things, or gazing at nature.

My rating: 7/10

Consume Quality Content

8. Read Books On The Topics You Write About

Chances are, almost everything you highlight in a book is a good topic for a Medium story. There are too many good books to mention, but I’m currently inspired by Tribe Of Mentors (Tim Ferriss), Willpower Doesn’t Work (Benjamin P. Hardy) and Principles (Ray Dalio).

My rating: 9/10

9. Listen To Podcasts On The Topics You Write About

Again, big shoutout to Tim Ferriss on that one. His podcast, his guests and his questions are just that good. Again, a lot of my January stories are inspired by answers provided by his guests.

My rating: 9/10

10. Start With A Quote

When I started writing, and even to this day, whenever I read a story that has a quote that inspires me, I write in down in my quotes collection. Back in January, I made a compilation and shared here: 41 Short And Powerful Quotes To Make You Feel Unstoppable

Any of these quotes is a good starting point for a story.

My rating: 7/10

Recycle

11. Re-write An Older Story Your Previously Wrote

I often write about my 3 new skills a month approach. I try to come up with a different perspective and with new ideas on the subject, but ultimately, it’s just the same story, packaged in a different, and hopefully more interesting way.

My rating: 4/10

12. Write On A Topic You Read From Another Writer

I started reading on Medium 6 months before I started writing. Every day, I would read stories from Nicolas ColeAnthony MooreBenjamin P. HardyZdravko CvijeticElle KaplanTom KueglerTim Denning and more. A lot of their stories inspired me to write my stories.

My rating: 7/10

13. Talk About A Relatable Story From Your Past

You’ve lived a more eventfully past than you think. Did you grow up in a weird/different family context? How was high school? How was going to college? How was your first date? Your first kiss? Your first job? Chances are you’ll find a few interesting things to write about.

My rating: 3/10

Do Things

14. Attend Events

There are tons of great events in pretty much every city in the world. I usually find them on meetup.com or through Couchsurfing. When you attend events, both the topic and the people you meet will inspire you to write.

My rating: 2/10

15. Practice Physical Activities

Back in January, I started getting more serious about fitness. I was obsessed with it. To some degree, I still am. I wrote a few stories on workout routines I’ve tried and worked or didn’t work for me. Physical activity is a hot topic and many people are looking for new things to try all the time.

My rating: 3/10

16. Travel

As I’m writing this, I’ve been the top travel writer on Medium for almost a month. I have traveled quite intensively and my travel stories resonate with a lot of other travelers. Same with my nomadic lifestyle. Anyone who travels a lot will have a few stories to share. By the nature of it, traveling tends to be quite eventful.

My rating: 6/10

Educate

17. Give Your Top Tips On Things You’re Good At

I don’t like bragging and saying I’m good at things, but sometimes I’ve got good productivity advice worth sharing with my audience. I even did talks on the subject. You can get audio to my latest talk: here. If you’re good at something, share it. These stories tend to do really good.

My rating: 5/10

18. Talk About Things That Worked And Things That Didn’t Work For You

I experiment a lot with activities and skills. Sometimes the experiments work great, but sometimes they’re epic failures. A good example is Tim Denning’s story from yesterday where he failed a public speech. It’s personal, emotional and shows his vulnerable side. Readers love that.

My rating: 6/10

19. Talk About Your Hard Skills

Are you a skilled graphic designer? Guitar player? Programmer? Tattoo artist? Cook? Any hard skill you have is an interesting subject for your audience. You don’t have to be the best in the world at it either. Be honest, and give your best advice, with no pretense that your tips are the best in the world.

My rating: 1/10 (I don’t currently write about my programming skills)

Cheating

20. Listicles Just Work

Don’t know what to write about? Just make a list about pretty much any subject and people will read it. With few exceptions, listicles tend to do much better than the rest. I think the reason is because they tend to be bite-sized and easy to read. Most of my top stories are listicles.

My rating: 4/10

21. Quotes Are Powerful

Building upon “Start With A Quote” and “Listicles Just Work”, assemble a series of related quotes and write a story around them. People love categories, and when they’re about quotes, it’s powerful. People smarter than us have written started things then us, take advantage of this. My top highlights are always quotes from other people.

My rating: 5/10

Conclusion

I hope some of these inspirations will work for you as they did for me.

Now it’s your turn. Be the writer you’ve always wanted to be. Stop looking for topics to write about and start writing thanks to these tips!

You can do this!

Thanks for reading and sharing! :)

How Fabricated Luck Can Turn You Into A World-Class Performer — And How To Fabricate It Yourself

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I’m a very “lucky” guy.

Everything great that happens to me is an “accident”.

It’s not the first time I’m writing on this subject, but it bears repeating since it’s really powerful.

The more I talk to other successful writers here, and other successful people in other disciplines; the more obvious it becomes to me:

We rarely achieve what we set out to do.

But it’s not all bad.

Think about it.

Go five years back in your thinking.

Back then, where did you see yourself in five years?

Is it where you are now?

Now, let’s do a little reflection.

If it is where you saw yourself, are you happy with it?

If it is not where you saw yourself, are you happy with it?

I’m willing to bet that if you are where you thought you would be, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows like you thought it would be.

On the other hand, if you are not where you thought you would be, well, it could go either way. You can be happy or unhappy.

How To Fabricate Luck Yourself

So what do I mean by “fabricated” luck?

It’s something unintentional that happens as a result of doing something else, but in a related — yet seemingly unrelated — matter.

When I set out to improve my writing, I didn’t aim for the top.

I only cared about self-improvement. I didn’t research how to make money by writing. I didn’t go for cash-grabs or quick fixes.

Being world-class at anything requires tons of effort and careful planning.

When I chose to improve my writing, I studied how to write compelling stories.

I was consistent in my writing. I was writing about things people wanted to read. I was authentic. I was honest. I was vulnerable. I wrote from my own experiences.

However, I didn’t know then that it would have been a “recipe for success”.

But that’s not all. It started the month before, when I researched how to become better at public speaking and how to tell stories. I practiced those skills for a full month.

Oh, but wait! It really started when I learned skill x, y, z.

You see my point?

“The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways.”―Robert Greene, Mastery

THAT is how you fabricate your own luck!

How Fabricated Luck Can Turn You Into A World-Class Performer

I didn’t aim to become a writer.

I didn’t aim to write a book.

I didn’t even aim to write stories here on Medium.

In fact, until three months ago, I didn’t know how to tell stories, let alone write them. For the most part, it just happened by “accident”.

In my short journey as a writer on Medium, I got published by one of the top publications and became a top writer in 8 different categories: Inspiration, Travel, Self-Improvement, Life, Life Lessons, Entrepreneurship, Productivity and Startup. This morning I noticed I was top 3 in Travel and top 5 in Inspiration!

And I’m not saying that to brag. There are people on Medium who are WAY better than I am.

Writing On Medium

I mentioned it above: I didn’t aim to become a writer.

It was just part of the 3 skills I was working towards learning for January.

I just wanted to be better at writing. Yet 5 days after I started writing, I got published. One thing led to another and I became a top writer in 23 days. I couldn’t believe it. I only wanted to improve, not become a top writer. I thought I could get published after 6 months of practicing!

I was definitely lucky. I see tons of great stories on Medium that don’t get the attention they deserve.

But my luck was “fabricated”.

The 3 new skills a month framework I built for myself set me up for success.

All the components were there for it to happen, I just arranged them in a way for it to trigger.

My Third Business

When I failed to launch my 3rd business, I joined a team who pitched to the same investors and got the funding (I didn’t). I learned so much about business, backend development and made tons of important connections by joining them.

We ultimately released a game that reached top charts in the app store and made millions of dollars.

I was lucky to meet the other company, but it happened because I was pitching to the same investors, did a good enough impression on them and the other team, and of course, played tons of games growing up, so I knew what I was talking about!

But I didn’t aim to make a game, let alone make good profit on one.

Conclusion

Luck can be “fabricated”. Fabricated luck is something unintentional that happens as a result of doing something else, but in a related, yet seemingly unrelated, matter.

To be “lucky”, you have to do shit. You have to get out of bed, put some pants on and get cracking.

The more you do, the more things will align and provide a path for you.

Seemingly unrelated skills will come together in ways you never thought they could. They will make you authentic. They will make you interesting. And they will ultimately make you world-class, in ways you never thought you could be.

You can do this!

Thanks for reading and sharing ! :)

First published here: https://medium.com/swlh/how-fabricated-luck-can-turn-you-into-a-world-class-performer-and-how-to-fabricate-it-yourself-50edd6f071fd

Should You Write One Story A Day? Here’s What I Learned From The Last Two Months

Photo by  @m15ky  on  Unsplash

Photo by @m15ky on Unsplash

I really didn’t want to write yet another post about “writing a story a day”. Many people have done that before me.

But I decided to write about it this morning because I think my opinion differs from most others, and I give my own pros and cons for doing it.

The idea to write about this topic came from when I read a story by Heide Lindgrenhttps://medium.com/@heidelindgren/ive-got-a-problem-with-this-post-content-everyday-strategy-38554c6fae3

“There is such a ridiculous amount of information out there to sift through and next to none of it is useful or relevant or sometimes even truthful” — Heide Lindgren

She’s not wrong you know. At least in my opinion. I’ve been struggling to write anything genuine for the past two weeks.

I initially blamed it on my change of environment and lack of focus on my routine.

But I was wrong.

Writing one genuine story a day is just plain hard, no matter the environment or routine.

In my answer to her story, I mentioned a story I had written recently: Originality Does Not Exist, We Should Aim For This Instead.

In the story above, I stipulate that quality, “original” content can be created based on authenticity, which is something I aim for in all my stories.

But even then, it’s hard to be authentic on a daily basis.

What I Learned

Writing Once A Day Drains A Lot Of Your Time

For two months straight, I wrote one story a day, but I was limiting myself to 40–60 minutes only. That included finding a topic, writing the headline, finding at least one image and finding relevant quotes (in no particular order).

Even though it took me only 40–60 minutes to write the story every day, I obsessed over looking at the stats and responding to most responses I got. Overall, it ended up taking at least 2 hours of my time every day.

And let me say that writing 750–1,000 words in 40–60 minutes is FAST and HARD! You should aim for something more realistic. I was dumb and lucky at the same time for having made it for two months.

If You Don’t Get Published, You Don’t Get Views

I was lucky enough that The Startup published me after only 5 days of writing here on Medium. And that’s without even reaching out to any publications.

But they don’t always publish my stories. Most of the stories they don’t publish don’t get many views. And it’s not because they’re bad. At least I don’t think they are. The people who stumble upon them like them.

I think I’ve had single story that was not initially published and gained a good amount of traction. They asked to publish it later.

Not All Publications Bring The Same Traffic

When I write things that are more story-based, I usually send to The Ascent, because it’s more catered for that.

I do not get the same amount of traffic. Far from it.

Top publications really make a difference in bringing more traffic to your stories.

But I personally don’t care. I prefer to get published where my stories will resonate more with the readers of that publication.

Do It For Yourself And Your Audience

If you write one story a day for the sake of it, you’ll end up struggling to find the creativity to write something meaningful.

When I started writing, I wanted to write every day simply to improve my writing skills. It was part of the 3 new skills I learn every month. I never aimed for “fame and fortune” as they say.

The “success” I got from it was a side effect of me really caring about what and how I wrote.

Authenticity in your writing makes all the difference. I see it in my stats.

You Will Write Bad Stories

And please recognize that it’s bad.

There are days when I finish writing my story and re-read, and I know it’s bad. I just want to bury it and either give up or write another piece.

But I always at least self-publish. I’m usually right about my stories being bad. I see it in my stats.

I still self-publish because I need to show that perfection doesn’t exist. Even a good writer writes bad stuff. It’s a lesson to everyone.

I don’t necessarily recommend self-publishing bad stories though. You can leave it as a draft.

The Longer The Story, The Lower The Read Ratio

This is not an original tip/lesson, but I think it’s important to understand, especially for new writers here.

Here’s what the breakdown looks like for my own stories:

  • 3 Minute Read: 40–50% read ratio

  • 4 Minute Read: 35–45% read ratio

  • 5 Minute Read: 30–35% read ratio

  • 6+ Minute Read: 20–30% read ratio

The Longer The Story, The Higher The Fan Count Ratio

This is not an actual Medium stat, but I obsess over it. I like it when I write stories that a lot of people clap for. That shows higher impact/engagement.

The Fan Count Ratio is: Read Count / Fan Count.

Some of my top stories have about 2 reads for 1 fan. That is incredible in my opinion. That means that every other person has been impacted by what I wrote.

It’s not rocket science, but if someone fully reads a long story, chances are they were indeed impacted by what you wrote.

People Think That 4 Claps Is Great

I was like that too when I started reading things on Medium.

Whenever I was reading a good story, I would clap once. 2 for really good and 4 for great.

What I didn’t realize back then was that 4 is actually very low when you take into consideration that you can clap 50 times.

I give a lot of 50 claps. In fact, it’s mostly a 0 or 50 claps deal for me now. Did the story impact me in any way? 50 claps. They deserve it.

When someone takes time to respond to my stories in a genuine way, I give them 50 claps. They deserve it.

The following is strictly my opinion on the subject and is not based on facts. Feel free to leave a comment about your thoughts on the subject.

Why You Should Do It

You Have A Message To The World

That is the top reason to do it. I personally didn’t do it for that reason initially, and I think it shows in my earlier stories.

Write because you have learned things in life that you think other people could benefit from.

If you have not experienced much in life yet, you probably don’t have enough material to work with to write once a day for an extended period of time.

Be authentic and your messages shall be received.

You Want To Improve Your Writing

By writing every day, you’ll increase your vocabulary, make fewer mistakes and become more efficient.

It’s a good reason to want to write every day.

You may not attract thousands of readers, but that’s not the point either. Not everyone needs to be famous here.

Also note that you don’t have to publish stories you think don’t add value to your readers.

You Want To Improve Your Storytelling

By writing every day, you will become a better storyteller.

I wrote about this is in the past. If you’re an introvert like me, words just don’t come out as easily orally and they do on paper.

Writing first improves your storytelling skills and allow you to become better at telling your stories in person after.

Like above, if you feel like your story may not add value to your readers, you don’t have to publish it.

Why You Should Not Do It

You Want To Be Famous

It’s not true that you need to write once a day to become famous.

Take Zdravko Cvijetic for example. He writes at most once every week, but the stuff he writes is really good. It’s valuable to a lot of people.

He is a top writer and has written the story with the most views on Medium.

Writing once a day does help with visibility, but what’s more important is this:

“Be so good they can’t ignore you.” — Steve Martin

You Want To Make Money

Please don’t do that.

One, there’s no money to be made unless you’re great. And if you’re great, you probably don’t need to write once a day anyway.

Write once a day to become great, then start thinking about money, but before that there’s no point.

I personally don’t write for money. In fact, with the book I’m publishing this month, I plan on giving to charity and pay for my assistant so I can write more, better things!

Because It’s A Fun Challenge

I’m not proud to say that part of the reason I did it was because I liked the challenge.

I’m all for challenging myself, but the stuff you publish on Medium is public. It adds to the noise. If the intention is not to provide value to other people, then it makes it harder for the readers to find content they can care about.

Remember folks, you ultimately write FOR your readers.

Conclusion

No one should write every day.

Most people can’t produce quality content on a daily basis.

I personally think that if you have a message to the world, then write about it, no matter the frequency. If it happens that you’ve got so much to say that you can impact people with your writing every day, then do it.

This month, I’ll start transitioning to writing less. I don’t have anything genuine to write about anymore on a daily basis. I’d also like to concentrate on more on my actual work too, because as I mentioned in my lessons above, writing daily does take a lot of time!

So I say this to you:

Be authentic. Write content your care about. Write things from your own experience. Don’t hypothesize and call it “truth”. Don’t just write the same thing with different words.

You can do this!

Thanks for reading and sharing ! :)

First published here: https://medium.com/swlh/should-you-write-one-story-a-day-heres-what-i-learned-from-the-last-two-months-6ae0dec8c8a4