Four Steps to Becoming a Published Author

Yesterday, I received the title Top Writer in Writing on Medium. As always, I’m grateful for this title. I thank all of my readers who read, clap for, and respond to my posts. I’m also grateful to the Startup publication for featuring my posts on a daily basis.

As I have done with the Top Writer title in Leadership, I will publish a post on writing today to celebrate this title. I have been publishing a blog post every day since November 18, 2017. That makes 103 blog posts for the last three months.

First of all, without the motivation coming from Medium, this would be impossible. But I have other practices that help me publish a blog post every day as well. I also plan to publish a book, so that will be the fourth and last step that I’m going to discuss today.

Step #1: Capture Ideas

On a given day, at least ten ideas pop up in my mind. I don’t think I’m special. Unless you’re depressed or asleep all day long, a lot of ideas would pop up in your mind as well. The question is what are you doing with those ideas?

Do you judge your ideas as being silly and cast them aside? Or do you value them and write them down somewhere? I don’t judge any idea no matter how silly it may sound. I write it down in the Evernote mobile app in my phone.

How long does it take to write down an idea?

One minute? How long does it take to write down ten ideas? Ten minutes?

It has a calming effect to write down an idea. You get it out of your head and your mental clarity increases. That idea doesn’t bother you anymore.

You also tell your mind that you appreciate your ideas. You condition your mind to come up with more ideas by writing them down.

Consume Quality Content

I’m not going to lie. Having read a good deal of books, quality blog posts, listened to audiobooks and podcasts, and watched quality videos on YouTube helps as well.

I have been consuming personal development content for more than 15 years. I have been observing and thinking about personal development, business, and investing for more than ten years.

I have more than ten years of work experience. All of that formed a basis and I can come with at least ten ideas to write a blog post about, on a given day.

Focus on Originality

My challenge isn’t about the quantity of ideas. My challenge is about how original my ideas are. I just don’t want to repeat what ten other personal development or business experts are writing about.

I want to write about really original ideas that my readers won’t be able to find anywhere else. That’s a challenge, because the ideas I select have to satisfy me first for their originality.

If I’m going to write about an idea that is already repeated by a dozen other experts, I don’t get motivated to write that post in the first place. Sometimes, I feel obliged to do that though, because some ideas are so fundamental that they must be repeated.

Step #2: Organize Ideas in Evernote

I usually take an hour or two in a given week to organize my ideas in Evernote. This is not an exciting work, I must say. This might as well be the hardest part.

I go over almost all the ideas in my Evernote and organize them under various theme notes. My theme notes include leadership, business, investing, writing, careers, and productivity. I add new theme notes as needed. I must admit that I’m not able to process all of my ideas every week.

Coming up with ideas is fun. Writing a post based on an idea is fun. But the step in between, organizing the ideas is grueling work.

Why Organize Ideas?

That grueling work has to be done. Why? Sometimes I come up with ten ideas about a certain topic. When I organize them in a separate note, I realize that at least three of them are repetitions. I came up with the same idea multiple times over time. So, I remove the repetitions.

Then, I realize I’d rather combine the remaining seven ideas in a single blog post, because that shows the multiple sides of the story. I like to discuss the multiple sides of a story.

If you read my blog posts, I usually discuss several arguments which are contradicting each other. Then I try to find a solution that combines all of those contradicting arguments.

Sometimes, a reader reads a paragraph, gets triggered, and writes a resentful response. I don’t think an approach that only focuses on one end of the spectrum produces good results in life. That is what I call the fallacy of extremism.

We’re better off considering both extremes of a spectrum and finding a point in that spectrum that is an optimal solution for everyone involved.

Step #3: Publish a Blog Post

Writing a blog post is fun but not easy. I must say that it’s a challenge for me to keep it short and easy. Sometimes, I want to delve deeper into a topic and discuss all aspects of it. That’s not possible in a blog post. Sometimes, it’s not even possible in a book. However, I want to discuss it as much as possible.

Writing a blog post is a great mental exercise. It helps you think through your ideas.

The first step I take when writing a blog post is to write down the main ideas on an empty text editor like Notepad on Windows. Then I structure them in different sections. When I have the structure, I write those sections.

Keep an Open Mind

Sometimes, I don’t have a conviction when discussing ideas in a blog post. I discuss the arguments on each side of the issue. Only after that, I try to make my mind.

And sometimes, I don’t even make my mind after completing the blog post. Then I ask the readers for their opinions.

Benefits of Blogging Daily

Disciplining yourself to publish a blog post every day is a great personal development exercise. Unlike journaling or thinking, a blog post needs to be structured.

A blog post must discuss an idea taking into account several sides and reach a conclusion. That helps you reach a higher level of mental clarity. Blogging daily also improves your critical thinking skills.

I can easily say that after publishing 100+ post daily, I can feel the benefits in my thinking patterns. I have a higher level of mental clarity.

Moreover, I hold myself to a higher standard now trying to follow all the principles written in my blog posts.

The cherry on top is the comments and responses I receive. Sometimes, those comments and responses give me new ideas and new tips that I can benefit from.

Step #4: Publish a Book

Once you have 100+ blog posts, you can easily fill a book with them. I probably have more than 50K words in my blog post, possibly more than 100K. That’s enough to fill a book and I plan to write and publish one.

What keeps me from starting that project is my follower numbers. I have 300+ followers on Medium and 30+ email newsletter subscribers. I don’t think those numbers justify to write a book at this moment.

I didn’t do anything artificial to boost my follower and subscriber numbers. I don’t think doing that would add any value to me as a writer and to those people as followers. I’ll let it grow organically as people discover me through natural means.

A book is more than a collection of blog posts.

Another reason I don’t publish a book at this moment is that I don’t want to put a bunch of blog posts in a book and publish it. I want to have a solid structure, an outline that holds and binds everything together.

I want to have an outline where all the ideas follow each other in a logical flow. I want to rewrite a lot of content to avoid repetition and to improve the quality. I also want to hire an editor and a designer for the cover.

I don’t think my following numbers are justifying all of those work and costs at the moment. So, if you want the book coming soon, follow me on Medium and sign up to the email newsletter and tell your friends and family to do the same.

Even if I don’t start writing the book, it’s a good practice to go over my blog posts and come up with an outline. By doing that, I see the possible structure of my book and which topics I am missing in my blog. Then, I focus more on those topics in my blog.

Conclusion

Writing is a great personal development exercise that provides you with mental clarity and critical thinking skills. There’s a catch though. You need to commit to publish a blog post regularly, preferably every day.

In order to publish a blog post every day, capture your ideas and organize them regularly. In order to come up with a lot of ideas, get out of your comfort zone frequently and consume a lot of quality content.

And who knows when you reach a certain number of blog posts and followers, you can publish your ideas in a book.

Burak Bilgin
Software developer with a Ph.D. and 15 years of experience. I write daily on personal development and life lessons. Sign up to my email newsletter to receive a weekly overview of my latest content on personal development and life lessons.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.