Now it all makes sense, I hear you cry – this is why your social media feeds have been filled daily with blogs from me. Suddenly out of nowhere, I went from never having written a blog to writing every day. My apologies if I’ve driven you insane, but I do know a Life Coach who specialises in mental health if you need one 😉.
Content is key, be prolific not perfect, aim for progress not perfection.
These were all the business rules ringing in my ears as another coach and I committed to one another to write every day for 30-days. Here’s what I learnt from this mini wordsmith adventure:
Accountability is key
Here’s a daring admission for a coach to make, so I’ll start with a disclaimer; I am great at getting my clients to commit to, work towards, and achieve results. Now, the admission, I am rubbish at holding myself accountable for achieving goals. I’ve known I need to write since I started my life coaching business over 3-years ago, but I simply haven’t. Add to this, in 2019 I graduated from a business programme where one of the core principles is publishing, and the necessity to write a book. I have procrastinated over blogs for years and writing a book for at least the last year. I had sat at my computer ready to write and a few words in had declared myself to have writer’s block, I’m confident you cannot have writer’s block if you have ceased to ever having written a word!
The ultimate reason I have written what I am confident must be 35,000+ words these 30-days is because I had an accountability buddy. Another coach to whom I made the commitment. There have been tough days when I have arrived as late as 10pm, sat with my laptop, and clueless as to what to write. During these moments my mind would wander to what excuse I could make for not having done this blog but much quicker than I would have previously imagined, I would exclaim, I can’t do that to Ruth. Knowing another coach and friend, was out there in her little piece of Yorkshire also writing her blog, ultimately as a commitment to herself, but also as a commitment to me.
Having another person to hold me accountable also meant I had someone I could talk to about the challenges of writing. Many a morning would be spent with us both stood in the kitchen of our offices at The Coach Collective, discussing the problems we were coming up against and brainstorming how we could overcome these. Joking about how tough it was but without a shadow of either of us even considering giving up and as I write this last blog now, I can say, we didn’t. We delivered our goal and more.
Here are some of the other things I learnt from 30-days blogging.
I found my voice
The first realisation I had was how little you can say in just 500 words. This was our initial commitment to the volume of words we had to write and only one day in we both agreed, that simply isn’t enough words to say what you want to say. Particularly as I was aiming to write the blogs my clients; past, present, and future, need to read. What do I need to share with them to add value to their life? I managed to create a volume of content I am proud of and the content itself I think will hugely beneficial to those people who need to read it, and do so. I took the opportunity to finally write about what it means to be successfully depressed, what the future holds for mental health, the importance of skills to help us navigate the world we live in, and the impact of being perfect and pleasing people. All things previously only discussed, and now documented.
I surprised myself as I typed and discovered what I really thought about the industry in which I work, the role of coaching, mental health challenges, and my personal journey. I built up bravery and allowed my authentic voice to find a place and shine. I like to think I conduct coaching with humour and my clients and I can often be found laughing, hopefully, they’re not just being polite and honouring me. Until working through these 30-days of writing, I didn’t know if I could capture my voice, and the humour in words, I like to think I have.
Beyond finding my voice, I was awarded an even more substantial gift, I discovered people were listening.
Each day, to varying degrees, the blogs have been read and more than that, they have started a conversation. Family, friends, and strangers have reached out and messaged me, shared the blogs, or started conversations online. This motivated and inspired me more and more each time I sat to write. The greatest gift of finding my voice is my having wholly removed the mental barrier I had to write a book. I genuinely couldn’t get into the swing of book writing, I feared almost every element of it but these 30-days have seen the dragon be slain and I am excited and inspired to write my book. More on this another day but for now watch this space.
I increased my commitment and willpower.
As the 30-days progressed I increased my commitment to the challenge and when my willpower was tested it had my back. In the first few days, you have a sense of it being more acceptable to consider giving in or skipping a day and making an excuse. What’s the worst that could really happen? I would’ve let my buddy down but we’d remain friends, and this would be another goal that just couldn’t be met. I could hide the failure behind being too busy, having other more important things to do, or it not being the right time to make a commitment like this. The more days passed, not completing the days writing simply wasn’t an option, it was an inevitability. While some days I admit I left the writing to a little late in the day, my unconscious mind knew at some point a blog was getting written and published, and no excuses existed that could prevent this from happening.
An interesting side effect of this was an increase in my commitment and willpower in another area of my life. At the same time as completing this challenge, I started an intermittent fasting challenge for 28-days. I’ve done things like this before with little success and cannot recall having made it to the end of the challenge with every day intact. This time this has not been the case. It was like my unconscious mind was wired for willpower and each day almost easily and effortlessly I have been able to maintain a 16/8 cycle of fasting, more on this in another blog. I share this as a sign when we commit to one area of our life, I believe it has the potential to impact our capability to commit to other areas too. Now I have written successively for 30-days the concept of continuing for another 30-days doesn’t faze me, if anything I feel like stopping now would be a shame. Although to keep writing there is one first thing I would do…
Planning would’ve made things easier.
My buddy took a brilliant approach to writing and mapped out what would be written over the 30-days and in large stuck to this, often knowing what she was writing the next day. I did this for the first 7-days as I was writing specifically on a book called 7 Skills for the Future, taking each skill and identifying the benefits to strengthening this for mental wellbeing, specifically tackling depression. After this, I had ideas on what I wanted to write but no clear schedule of what would be written when, this certainly caused me challenges and delays in getting the writing process started each day.
When I sat to write I also didn’t set a format of what would be included where, e.g. what points I would make, headings I might use, etc. I can see the benefit to this, but I also continue to flirt as to whether or not my natural style might be to type as I would talk to a client and then format the results into a blog.
I’m going to continue to write, and I’ll definitely map out what I want to write about and start building ideas of what I might include in specific blogs or book chapters (ooooh, I even surprised myself when I wrote that, maybe this book will get written after all).
In summary, this is one of the best things I have ever done for myself and my business. It has broken ceilings and opened doors for me. I feel like a writer now, and I feel ready to take on the challenge of writing a book. I am confident I would not have gotten to this phase without having another person there to whom I was accountable and who was responsible to me. This commitment is fundamental, and I will be seeing how I can utilise this moving forward. I’d mentioned having procrastinated over writing a lot these last few years, and this led me into completing research into what’s the best way to get started, what book can I read, what course can I attend? I didn’t find the answer through my research. I found it through 30-days successive writing.