Simple, not Easy

It’s been awhile.

Not so long ago, I wrote every single day. I posted something daily. Time I didn’t spend churning out those articles, I spent on my book — a book that now sits in a folder on my hard drive at just under 50,000 words. I haven’t opened that file since June of 2017.

I had a good plan, back then — good enough that some people wrote about it, anyway. I had built an ample audience. With a few more months of growth, a couple of newsletters, a membership program, and a podcast, I felt confident I could make some money from this thing I did and loved so dearly.

As with any decline, my fall started slowly — and then happened all at once. Nine months after Doing Monetization Well, I ended one weekly series with a formal announcement. Another just faded into oblivion. Days started passing between articles, and then weeks. Before long I had quit altogether. I stopped without warning, notice, or explanation, to both myself and my readers. I published an unfortunate dip into the political realm that unintentionally became my last post 364 days after outlining my grand monetization plan.

My strategy had been simple. Crank out a few hundred words a day. Link to something interesting, publish it alongside some compelling commentary, and intersperse those pieces with long-form articles. Rinse and repeat while the hit counter climbed. Get paid. Simple, but not easy. I have spent a lot of time thinking about this lately, both as it relates to my relationship with writing and life in general.

I excelled in high school. I did well in college. As I approach my one year mark as a Second Lieutenant in the Army, I continue performing near the top of my peer group. I am no smarter than my peers, nor am I any better than any one of them. Greatness is not a matter of intelligence, innate ability, or any special trait, though; greatness, as Ray Lewis once said, is a lot of small things done well.

Excelling in high school means spending thirty-six months waking up on time, turning in assignments by the due date, and picking a sport to round out that college application. Doing well once you get there means more of the same in a less regimented environment. A huge part of excellence as a junior officer is showing up on time and making a concerted effort to do the right thing — essentially the same list of small things one must do well in high school and college. All simple, but none easy, and so the number of people who make it from one stage to the next decreases at each level.

As in life, the key to my success here was a lot of small things done well. Post every day, grow the audience, and turn this hobby into a business. The path was simple, but not an easy one, and I burned out within sight of the finish line. Four years later I find myself drawn back to it once again. Expect to hear from me again soon — not every day, not yet, but here and there. I have a lot of lost ground to recover, and its high time I got back to it.

It’s been awhile, but I’m back.