It was 7am, Sunday, 14th January 2018, when I decided to give an experiment a try - Morning Pages.
I first heard about it from Tim Ferriss' Podcast, and then I read about it in other blogs that I followed too.
The premise is simple:
Wake up in the morning and write for 3 pages.
There are many benefits to Morning Pages:
- Achieve clarity of thought
- Reduce anxiety
- Discover your creativity
- Suppress, or even silence, your self-criticism
- Become natural at idea generation
Or so the experts say. And frankly, there are no wrong way to do Morning Pages. It's just writing (handwritten) three pages in the morning. You can write about anything. Once three pages are done, you do again tomorrow, and the day after, and try to form a streak (string of unbroken hits).
Being maverick, I decided to shift things a bit. Since getting onto Steemit, many have asked me how I managed to write every day. I won't lie, I do have a gift of writing - storytelling and articulation. But I wanted to develop a process that anybody - gifted or not - can replicate.
So I took the concept of Morning Pages, combined it with the motivation one can get from Steemit (fame and fortune), and hence, the Mini Motivation series was born.
It has been a streak for me too. For 21 days, I haven't stopped waking up 30 minutes earlier every morning (yes, weekends included). Why 21 days? My coach taught me long ago, to adopt a habit, try it for 21 days. If it sticks, then keep it. If it doesn't, decide if you want to go for another 21 days. #simplewisdom
And since 21 has a right to it, I decided that I must complete the post within 21 minutes of starting.
And I wanted to be able to breakdown the process of this exercise, so that I can publish a tutorial at the end of 21 days.
Hence this post.
So if you want to learn how to can write a short post of 300 words under 15 minutes, and have it up in your Steemit account under a total of 21 minutes, read on. It's 8 steps, and trust me, it's easier than it looks.
Ready? Let's go!
Step 1: Generating sources of inspiration
Let's start off with a cheat. :)
If you've even been to Ben's, they have a box of "table topics" on each table. The objective is simply so you and your guests have something to talk about (and not be on your phone all the time!)
We're gonna start by creating that box of table topics. These "box" of topics will help you trigger a thought in those wee hours of the morning, so you can jump straight into writing. I wouldn't want you having to look for topic ideas in the morning, because knowing you, 97 minutes later, you'll probably be watching the trailer to Star Wars Episode 12.
How you come up with the box of topics is up to you. You can head over to this site - ConversationStarters.com - and hit on the Generate Another Random Topic, until you found one that can stimulate a thought.
Me? I usually just head over to the Quotes section of Goodreads.com. There have over 100,000 quotes, so I think that's pretty much covers you for, er, life?
Step 1A: Me being Fancy
Because I like nice designs, I decided to spend a few hours on Saturday to generate a tons of pictures with quotes on it. Some examples are:
Personally, I use Adobe Illustrator to create them, but you can always use Canva too. Canva has some amazing templates which you can already start using with minimal design skills.
For image sources, you can get pick some from the list below. Do remember to cite the image sources, even though the list are all free stock photos.
- www.flickr.com (Creative Commons)
- www.Photopin.com (Easier Flickr searches)
Step 2: The habit of waking up 30 minutes earlier
Unless you're already a early riser, this task is gonna be slightly harder.
If you want a simple advice, here it is:
Sleep half and hour earlier. #boom
Oh yeah, you may want to sleep is multiples of 90 minutes, i.e. 1.5, 3, 4.5, 6, 7.5 hours. This is to make sure you wake up on the right sleep cycle. Remember those times when you wake up feeling groggy? Well, that's because you woke up in the middle of the sleep cycle.
But don't just take my word. Read more about the Harvard University research on this very topic!
Step 3: Scrolling through the topics/pre-made inspirations and pick the first one that trigger a thought
Head over to your laptop, and scroll through the list of topics you have written down, or just hit the Generate Another Random Topic at ConversationStarters.com until you have one.
For me, I just go through the folder of inspirations quotes I've pre-designed, go through them slowing one at a time, and when one trigger a thought or inspiration, that's it.
Bonus tip: Your eyes are gonna strain against the light of your screen. Turn in Night Mode (Night Shift for Mac users) if you can.
Step 4: One minute of grounding
Ok, so you've got your topic. Fire up your writing app, and take a minute to allow that topic and thought to percolate in your mind.
Extra Tip: If you haven't tried out TheMostDangerousWritingApp.com, you should. It's one easy way to make sure you can just type away. I did a full review here, but in a nutshell, what the app does is this:
- You pick a time limit or minimum word count. I found the time limit easier, and to hit about 400 words, I would pick 10 minutes on the timer. (Average person types at 38 - 40 Words Per Minute)
- Here are the rules. The moment you click "Start Writing", you cannot stop typing until the timer is up. If you slow down, the words you've typed will slowly fade away. Stop too long, and the contents will be gone for good. Yes, gone for good as in you cannot copy-and-paste.
- Once you're done, you are able to save your work.
- Pressure really makes you do free-flow writing.
Step 5: Just write
The ket to writing is to write, not to think.
~ William Forrester
Here are a few things to help you write better, other than using TheMostDangerousWritingApp.com:
- Forget about grammar
- Forget about spelling
- Forget about punctuations
- Forget about the Delete and Backspace keys
- Forget about capitalisations
- Just write
Step 6: Edit + Format
After you've typed continuously for 10 minutes (about 400 words), and your writing has come to a good end (don't leave your writing abruptly), here's when you can do the editing.
If you have Grammarly, I would suggest you use it to correct your grammar and spelling error.
For formatting, I suggest using Typora.io, a free markdown editor. Here are a few tips to tidying up your content:
- Break long paragraphs into shorter paras. Multiple paragraphs are way better than a long one. Anything that's too wordy in a "block" will turn readers off. Heck, it will even turn you off.
- Use bullet points if stringing together sentences is hard.
- Make use of headings to break your content into sections. This will make it easy for your readers to read and browse.
- Play around with Bold, Italics or both!
You can opt to insert a photo if you want, but don't take too long to search for it. Remember, you're supposed to have the post up by 21 minutes! Tick tock tick tock!
Step 7: Pick some solid tags
This one is easy. Just head over to my blog feed and check out the latest Daily Smart Tags Report. I generate a report on the most profitable tags on Steemit, based on the number of posts and total payout. I also include tags with most engagement.
Some quick tag tips:
- Pick tags that are relevant to your topic.
- Avoid picking profitable tags that makes no sense to your content.
- Think out of the box. What would your readers search when looking for your kind of contents
- Popular tags are not necessary good, because the moment you post, within a few minutes, your posts will be pushed down by new posts.
Step 8: Publish Post!
This one is easy!
You may want to share your post URL at the right channels (Facebook, your community groups, Discord channels etc) to get more viewership.
Oh yeah, don't know about you, but like me, you may want to make it a challenge and do this for 21 days. You may not stick to the habit after that period, but trust me, with Steemit, at least you get paid even for habits that don't stick!
- I decided to continue this habit (did Mini Motivation #22 this morning) for a while longer, since it is beneficial for me to wake up early.
- Because I woke up earlier in the morning, and with a purpose, I found that my focus throughout the day has improved.
- I also realised completing a task early in the morning solidifies the feeling of starting the day strong. It's a big boost to self-confidence because you've done something tough early morning.
- My body has adjusted to the early up time, because since the last few days, I woke up even before the alarm clock!
- I like starting my days earlier too, because after the post, I can start with some work without the distraction of the world. Thankfully, not many people wake up so early. I'll just set my emails to send out a few hours later so It looks "normal".
- I actually pre-wrote a post during the first week, fearing that I may wake up one morning and can't get the juice running. You know what? That posts remained un-posted. Wanna see how long I can keep it in cold storage.
- Suggestion for you: find an accountability partner/buddy for this. A fellow Steemian you can tag once you've done your morning post. If you want, I can do that for you too. :)
Hope this case study and experiment report is useful for you, and your Steemit success! Leave a comment below if you decide to start the habit, or if you want to be my accountability partner.
Wait, why's Mav posting on Steemit nowadays?
Well, unlike other blogging and social media platform, Steemit is the only platform that allows me to earn cryptocurrency when I engage with it. Yup, one Steem is about USD7, and you, too, can earn Steem Dollars every time you:
- Create content (articles, blog posts, podcasts, videos, photos)
- Upvote (like) other people contents
- Comment on other people's posts
- Have discussions, share opinions etc!
Yup, basically it's the very same thing you're doing on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc all along!
The only difference? For once you can earn a nice income on the side!