Let It Be Easy

Today I accidentally (🤔) got distracted by a Twitter thread that was talking about building a following with content marketing. It was better than I was expecting and reminded me of a fundamental that is easy to forget after years in the marketing world:

Make it easy.

The role of the writer (or marketer) is to communicate something clearly to their audience, with the intent of making them feel or do something.

You could write the most beautiful prose in all the world but if you make it hard for the reader to keep reading — say, with impenetrable walls of text or never-ending sentences — you have a serious problem.

The form of your work is as important as the substance. The two components are inextricably linked.

It’s also crucial to make doing the work easy.

Whether it’s the day’s journal entry or a piece with a looming deadline, removing friction is the only way you’re going to build any momentum.

This is even more important if you want the writing to become a habit.

Here’s the kind of friction that seems to trip us up most often:

  • Housework
  • Social media
  • Guilt about writing instead of some other thing you ‘should’ be doing
  • Anxiety about what to write
  • Imperfect conditions (wrong pen, shabby notebook, fave writing corner unavailable etc)

I’m going to let you in on a big secret. The secret to removing the friction of all these is simply deciding that the writing is more important.

This is simple, but not easy, so let me expand.

All that friction is actually narrative. Those things feel like impediments because we have a story we are telling ourselves about them.

If I don’t do the housework then my friends will think I’m disgusting.

Checking Instagram will only take a minute and then I’ll be able to focus.

If I don’t cross that thing off my to-do list, it’s going to be hanging over me like the sword of Damocles.

On and on, we make up these stories about what a certain action or situation means.

But objectively — looking at it without any judgement or agenda — we might start to realise that it’s us that is creating that meaning, and thus, the friction.

Analysing your own narratives is hard. A lot of the time we don’t even realise we have them. But good writing is about asking hard questions, looking with fresh eyes, being curious about what’s always seemed a foregone conclusion.

There are, of course, things you can do from a logistical viewpoint to reduce friction — both in your writing and in your writing routines.

  • Rid yourself of clutter and unnecessary rules or requirements
  • Be clear about your priorities
  • Don’t get derailed trying to fit someone else’s mold
  • Set yourself up to have fun.

Let it be easy. It can be, if that’s what you decide it is.