Last time we talked about getting that first pancake out of the way so you can make more pancakes. We can be so afraid of that wobbly-edged first pancake that we don’t even start, but when we overcome that fear and pour out that first blob of batter, we’ll start to get the hang of it, flipping more and more until we have a big round stack to serve others.
And that’s why we’re writing, isn’t it? To serve whole stacks of our words to others?
There are other reasons to write, including personal reasons, like keeping a private journal to explore our inner lives. That practice can lead to a healthier psyche, increased gratitude, and improved health.
But those of us who are writing for publication of some kind—even if only on social media—have some desire to serve an audience. To have readers.
We want to inform, persuade, encourage, or entertain, right?
Keep Flipping Pancakes
So here’s the deal. You’ve got to keep flipping pancakes. Every Saturday morning, you have to pull out the griddle, stir up the batter, and make more.
And you know I’m using this as an analogy, of course, though by all means, make actual pancakes any time you wish. If you make any for me, I’ll take gluten-free, dairy-free with real maple syrup, please.
But back to our writing.
Once you write the first poem or the first essay or the first book or the first Instagram post—or the next poem or the next essay or the next book or the next Instagram post—keep going.
Pick a sustainable pace and keep writing, keep editing, keep finishing, keep shipping them out however they’re shipped.
If it means you need to click publish in WordPress so your article goes live once a week, do it.
If it means you make the finishing touches on your essay and send it out via Submittable, send it.
When you’re consistent—when you keep showing up—you reap layers of benefits.
Be Consistent for Readers
First, you show your audience you’re serious about this. You’re in it for the long haul.
You’ll still evolve—it doesn’t mean you’ll produce exactly the same content for decades. But you are saying, “Hey, I’m not a one-hit wonder.”
Consistency tells the world, “This who I am. This is my personality, my tone, my approach, my worldview. And you can turn to me for X.” Then write X, whether that’s political satire or romance novels. It can be driven by topic, like frugal shopping or high-end travel, or it can be driven by platforms, like podcasts and vlogging.
Show up and prove to the world this is what you offer. By writing and shipping consistently, you’re saying, “I’m going to show up with content that persuades you, encourages you, makes you laugh, or solves your problem. You can turn to me for that. You can count on me. I’ll be here. I’ll walk alongside you, reader.”
Now, plenty of readers will pop over to your blog or your Facebook page and just take away one little morsel of information and never visit you again. That’s okay. But you will have faithful readers. Those are the people you’re showing up for. Whether it’s two, twenty, two hundred, or two hundred thousand, keep showing up for them.
Be Consistent for Yourself
Interestingly, showing up for others ends up being a gift to yourself. When you write for others, you reinforce not only for them but also for yourself: this is who I am, and this is what I offer and want to keep offering.
When you stick with your commitment to show up consistently, you prove to yourself you can do this. You can follow through. You can make pancake after pancake. You get small win after small win, and those add up to become their own big win.
Consistency is how we practice our craft and improve. And you’ll have the confidence to undertake bigger projects because you know you were faithful to follow through with the smaller ones.
Keep a growth mindset. Move toward mastery. Improve and experiment and improve even more. When you’re consistent, you’ll confirm you’re on the right track or maybe you’ll find clues of what you might try next. You’ll likely gain some vision for your writing life because you’ll have so much more information and input from that regular practice.
Consistency Doesn’t Mean Daily
Now, consistency doesn’t mean you have to publish five articles on your website each week or ten tweets a day. Pick one new effort that you’ve wanted to try and then pick the minimum you believe you can sustain over the course of six months or a year.
Pick the day that makes the most sense for whatever reason you choose—maybe you pick a day to publish on your website because you’re free to write and edit the two days leading up to that day. But maybe you pick that day because you read it’s the ideal to publish that kind of content on that kind of platform. It doesn’t really matter. Just pick a day that you plan to publish.
Then write and ship. Write and ship. Consistently. You’ll build your body of work. You’ll be a writer.
How to Have More to Offer
Keep reading, keep observing, keep learning so you’ll have more to say. The more you take in, the more you can be a source of entertainment, information, and solutions.
Be consistent and you’ll build a platform, too. Like it or not, a platform is critical, especially for nonfiction writers. But what a great way to go about it—writing day after day so you can share week after week. Publishers do want to see that you’re known by readers, but don’t you want to be known by readers?
If you want to be a writer, keep showing up. Your future self will thank you. And if you seek traditional publishing, a publisher may one day thank you. Most of all, your readers will thank you (your future readers, too).
If you want to be a writer, it’s not magic. If you want to be a writer, you just keep showing up.
- The First Pancake Rule
- Ep 142: If You Want to Write, You Have to Get Started
- Ep 109: Improve Your Writing with a Growth Mindset
- Ep 85: Now Is the Time to Start Building Your Platform
- Ep 90: The Long-Term Results of a Faithful Writing Life
- Ep 1: Just Get Started
- All podcast episodes
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