Who’s ready for another prolific writer special?
I’ve been a bit too enthusiastic with the requests this time so we’ve got six prolific writers instead of five.
Grab a coffee and get ready to learn from experts in blogging, copywriting and online content creation.
Ana Bibikova is a no-tech expert and prolific online writer who writers at least 5 Medium articles a week and answered 3 questions or more on Quora daily for 6 months. She’s also the author of How to Find a Tech Cofounder.
Jason Stershic, aka Agent Palmer, is a blogger and pocaster. He has published at least one blog a week on AgentPalmer.com since November 2013 and publishes a new podcast episode every other week. Find out why episode 55 is my favourite.
Where do they find inspiration and ideas?
Ana Bibikova: “Basically, everywhere. I work with early-stage founders — I share some of the ideas we stumbled upon together. I listen to tons of podcasts — if I find something useful, I’m happy to share it in a blog post or a tweet. I read business books — I break them down if I believe they will be valuable to everyone. I love researching stuff — neuroscience, crypto, blockchains, uncertainty problems. I integrate some of the interesting ideas that I have researched and analyzed into my “binaries” series: little visuals + text to explain two opposite concepts. Since my college years, I’ve been fascinated by the idea of a Middle way — a philosophy that is very dear to the Eastern culture. It says that the true nature of things is hidden behind the opposites. To grasp the secret behind — well, everything — one has to study the differences and find out how they actually comprise one entity. Hence, my binaries.”
Jason Stershic: “Life. I read things, I watch things, I listen to things. I have conversations, I have thoughts, I learn, I ask, I research, I ponder. All of these things and more have at times inspired writing that has been published or not.”
Greg Solomon: “I take what appear to be insignificant events that happened to me (including when I was a child) and turn each of them into deep life lessons that fill an entire chapter. For example, the chapter called “Putting trees in your field” is based on a mere 2 minute conversation I had with my father over 40 years ago!”
Jeremy Moser: “Mostly SEO driven research. I’m fascinated by what people search for more so than what people say they are interested in.”
Niharikaa Kaur Sodhi: “Learnings mixed with experiences.”
Sonam Gulati: “Once you start creating, everything around you – newspaper, ads, podcasts, books, tweets, conversation brings you ideas. It’s like something within your brain shifts and the world around you is suddenly brimming with ideas. And for the days when you’re running dry, just stop thinking about ideas. Give you mind some rest. Go for a walk, listen to some music (that you usually don’t), have a conversation with a stranger in the mall (not with the intention of finding ideas) and you’ll be inspired again.”
What are their best writing tips?
- The most challenging part in writing is to start writing. When I do, I just keep on writing because I only need to focus to capture the flow of thought and be fast enough to put them on paper, so to speak.
- If you can’t get to this state when you don’t have to think a lot about things you write (the thoughts are already there) you probably need to increase the input.
- I love this story of how the Atwater Factor table came to life (it’s a table every food manufacturer uses to put the nutrition information on the packaged goods). It’s hard to believe this but the table was put together >100 years ago. Wilbur Atwater decided to find out how many calories there are in…huh…everything. So, he used a machine called a Bomb calorimeter. It consists of two cylinders one inside the other with some empty space between. The process is simple: fill the inner cylinder with pure oxygen and put a food sample. Fill the space between the cylinders with water. Then burn the food sample (basically, carbonize it). And see how high the temperature of the surrounding water will rise. Because the Calorie = heat needed to increase the temperature of 1L of water/33.814 Oz + 1°C/33.8°F). But that’s not the end of the story. Atwater did not want to calculate the calories in the products. He wanted to calculate available calories (the ones that will be actually consumed by our bodies) — because, obviously, some of the calorific value will be lost or spent along the way (for instance, on processed food). And as every food is different, the “waste” will be different too. It’s easy to demonstrate in this example: why eating wholemeal bread is considered to be better for weight loss? Not because wholewheat is somehow different from wheat in calorific value. But because we use more energy to process wholewheat, therefore less is left to be stored in fat. So Atwater came up with a solution: he took a sample (for example, an apple), and split it in half. First half he burned in the bomb calorimeter. The second part he fed to his assistant. The next day, he collected poop — and burned the poop. He knew the input. He knew the output. The difference = available calorific value. It took Atwater 20 years to complete his table of calorific values. And you won’t believe it, but these are the numbers manufacturers put on the packages so that consumers have a clear knowledge of what they eat. Why do I think this is relevant to the writing process? Obviously, the main takeaway — if you want to complain, how hard your writer’s work is, think of the guy who was carbonizing poop for 20 years. But most importantly, if you can’t get the output you need – check out the input and how much is lost along the way. What does your time/ideas/process waste consist of? How can you eliminate it? By doing it, I believe, you will get to the max speed or level of writing.”
- Editing is your friend.
- If you get inspired write it down. Don’t let that inspiration go! It’s hard to return to that initial spark.
- Make sure you enjoy the process of creation. That way, it’s always a success.
- Write often.
- Write in different genres, including fiction, non-fiction, journalling, etc.
- Don’t judge your writing, just improve your writing (which sometimes means deleting your writing and starting again).
- Build skills in a niche vertical. You don’t need to entirely niche down, but inching into something like marketing or tech or development helps you build topical knowledge and skills much faster. And when you do this, writing is 100x easier because you know the ins and outs of it. You don’t need to do as much research. Etc. Build your niche, then expand.
- Never stare at a blank page. Spend 30 minutes at minimum to collect sources and data points that inform your paragraphs. You’ll find what people actually care about so that you aren’t writing just to write, but writing to hook and captivate.
- Outsource editing. Never edit your own work. Editors will accelerate your writing quality by years in just a few sessions. You think your work is flawless. You’re biased. You rarely improve editing your own work. Avoid this at all costs. Invest in yourself and get an editor!
Niharikaa Kaur Sodhi:
- Consistency puts you forward.
- Your experiences are something that only belong to you, leverage them.
- Don’t worry about the numbers.
- Write. Write and Write. The drafts will suck, the first versions will be bad (just how they should be) but don’t let it stop you from writing. Remember the more you write, the better you get. There is no shortcut.
- Consume the right content. Without consuming, you can’t create. Be mindful of the content you consume. How to do that? Choose content that helps you understand your audience and learn just the next step. If you try and learn it ahead, you’ll be left lost and overwhelmed.
- Maintain an ‘idea’ diary. An idea diary helps you record those fleeting thoughts and feelings. When you start doing that consistently not only will you become more aware of your thought process but also create a bank for the days when ideas run dry.
What is their prolific writing secret?
Ana Bibikova: “I’m not sure there’s a secret behind prolific writing. As I’ve said above, the hardest thing is to start. And then meticulously eliminate waste — everything where you lose your energy, resources, time, ideas, vibe. Could be too much social networking. Or multitasking. Or you’ve just chosen the wrong time of the day and you can do better if you wake up earlier or stay up longer. It takes a lot of experimenting (not as linear as a bomb calorimeter) but, again, on the bright side, we don’t have to carbonize poop.”
Jason Stershic: “In regards to the blog, the secret is the loose schedule. This sounds ridiculous but it is the truth. The difference between the first two years and the last eight is a schedule. I sometimes move things around, it is a loose schedule, but it makes everything easier. I make the time to create the schedule, so when I sit down I know what I’m going to be writing. In the first two years it was, “I have to post something tomorrow… What do I write?” Since then, it’s been “I have to post something, and I’ve already decided what it’ll be, so now it’s time to write.” Working with a deadline and staring at a blank page is hard enough without a topic. Make it easy on yourself.”
Greg Solomon: “Accept that BAD writing is a natural part of the process. Understand that NOT writing is destructive to the process.”
Jeremy Moser: “Be genuinely interested in the topics you are writing about. If you aren’t, you won’t last long enough to master the craft of prolific writing.”
Niharikaa Kaur Sodhi: “I enjoy it instead of putting pressure on myself.”
Sonam Gulati: “My prolific writing secret has to be consistency. When you’re consistent – productivity, awareness, virality, authenticity, followers, become nothing but the by-product of the process.”
- Prolific Writer Special with Mustafa Khundmiri, Daniel Bustamante, Amanda Natividad, Jerine Nicole & Jeremy Ginn.
- Prolific Writer Special II with Josh Spector, Jessie van Breugel, Nia Gyant, Sangeet Kar & Morgan Ulrich
- Prolific Writer Special III with John-Paul Hernandez, Sharissa Kuurstra, Johna Baylon, Dylan Redekop & Mohit Mamoria
- Prolific Writer Special IV with Arumina Khunteta, Dickie Bush, Ev Chapman, Kevon Cheung, and the mysterious Thomas J Bevan.