This is my very first blog post, on my own website under my own name. This might not seem very special in 2021, but trust me, it's a pretty big deal for me. It has been a long time coming and looking back, I can see how I have unconsciously been working towards this moment.
So why now? And why online writing?
I've always been an avid reader. It's my favourite way to relax and recharge. I love learning from online content as much as I do from books. It doesn't matter whether it's an article, a blog post, an email newsletter, a Twitter thread or an Instagram caption. I take endless notes and screenshots, keeping a log of everything I find interesting and want to learn more about. I'd often get lost for hours in some internet rabbit hole, chasing down reference after reference.
My reading ‘interest’ reached new heights during the pandemic lockdown. I'd wake up and start reading the news, sit on the toilet scrolling through Twitter, and fall asleep holding my Kindle (much to the annoyance of my girlfriend, and to be fair, it was slightly obsessive). While there are worse things to do with your free time, I started having this nagging feeling that I was not necessarily retaining much from what I was reading. I was racing through books, but I’d forget most of it after a few days. In the mornings, I'd quickly skim through all the newsletters I had subscribed to, jumping from one tab to the other. Was I replacing passive Netflix viewing with passive reading?
At the same time, I also started journaling again as a way to keep a record of this extraordinary lockdown experience. I would free write on my laptop in my notes app (Bear), pages and pages long, bouncing from topic to topic. Writing down any random thought that would come up in my head without worrying about structure or logic. It felt so freeing to just write without thinking about what I would do with it. I started noticing how writing helped me clarify my thoughts and ideas. It helped shape and develop my thinking and priorities. I also noticed how I was communicating more openly with my girlfriend, able to explain what I was thinking and feeling in a way that I would struggle with before. Journaling kept me sane during the lockdown and is hands down the best thing that has come out of 2020.
Fast forward to February 2021, when I read about Ship30For30, an online writing challenge, in Tim Ferris' email newsletter. Without knowing much (or anything really) about it, I signed up. The concept is simple: every day, you write 1 essay of 250 words on any topic, and you publish it online. The objective is to build a daily writing habit and get over the fear of putting yourself out there. There is a community aspect built around the challenge, and you get assigned an accountability partner, which encourages you to keep going.
This was an eye-opening experience, and the ultimate push to start this blog, in several ways :
- I was introduced to an online community of regular people, of all ages and backgrounds, who are writing and sharing online. These are not social media experts or professional writers. It got me thinking that if they can do this, perhaps I can too? I felt inspired, encouraged and excited to start creating and building publicly, share my journey with people and get better as I go. I see it as a way to really boost my creativity and self-confidence, letting go of those self-limiting beliefs that I need to be an expert to write about anything online. As Austin Kleon says in his book Show Your Work: "Make stuff you love and talk about stuff you love and you’ll attract people who love that kind of stuff. It’s that simple."
- The opportunities on the internet are endless, and I have not even scratched the surface of it. By doing this challenge, I've learned about platforms and tools like Circle, Notion, Substack, Gumroad and so on. I've also discovered the power of Twitter as a platform to share your ideas and connect with like-minded people. Starting this blog and writing online is not just going to be great for the continuous development of my technological skills, it will also open up new opportunities and ideas, allowing me to intentionally build the kind of life and work that I want. Just using the internet for passive scrolling and online shopping would be a waste.
- As a Millennial born in 1988, I am part of the 'In-between Generation'. We spent much of our early lives without smartphones and social media but have been using them for so long we'd be considered natives. Yet writing and sharing anything online always felt too self-indulgent, too vulnerable, too awkward. What will people think? Participating in this challenge has been a real mindset shift for me. In this day and age, if your work isn’t online, it doesn’t exist.
After years of thinking, “it’s too late to start a blog” and “what value could I possibly add to the millions of blogs already out there”, here we are. For whatever reason, I was not ready and beating myself up over that is a waste of time and energy. I clearly needed to go through these thought processes and experiences to end up where I am now.
So in the spirit of "You can't find your voice if you don't use it", I’m super excited to start this journey and hopefully, I can inspire some other people to do the same along the way.
Wish me luck!