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Do You Want to Know the Secret to Writing (Or Doing Anything) Consistently?

It’s using Systems and having a Systems Thinking mindset to solve problems

Hi friend!

This week I want to talk how you need a system if you want to write (or do anything) consistently.

If you’re struggling to write consistently, having ideas is probably not the problem. Instead, you’re probably having a problem with being consistent and showing up each day.

Lets back track for a bit for context.

I grew from 0 to 1200+ followers on X over 12 months.

This is not viral growth. If you’re after rapid growth, I’m not your gal.

I’m the slow, steady and sustainable growth kind of gal. Imagining 1200+ people in a stadium paying attention to what I say gives me a mild heart attack. So I’m pretty contented with my slow pace of growth.

How did I do this?

I cultivated a Systems Thinking mindset and created systems that worked for me to help me stick to taking consistent action (writing daily) over a long period of time.

Doing this can help you:

  • Save time

  • Streamline your processes

  • Improve your focus and quality of your writing

  • Reduce the mental fatigue as you’re not doing things from scratch each time

To put it another way, systems helped me write regularly, interact with peers and readers regularly and work on problems I want to solve for readers, so I can add value to their lives through my content.

Unfortunately, most people don’t slow down in their daily lives and spend enough time reflecting on the why they’re struggling, to realise that a lack of systems or processes is causing the struggle.

Use Systems and a System Thinking mindset to help you be consistent

In order to be consistent with writing (or any other goal in your life), you first need to make sure you don’t make a few of the most common mistakes:

  • Think that you need “inspiration” before you can write.

  • Think that you need to be an expert before you can start writing about a topic.

  • Think that you need a complex web of tools and processes to write consistently.

These were the stories I told myself before I used a Systems Thinking approach to understand why I struggled to be consistent and created a simple writing system that works for me in Notion.

“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”

James Clear, author of Atomic Habits

So, I’m going to share my simple writing system. I do this in Notion as it’s a tool that helps me be more organised, focused and productive. But you can do this in Obsidian, Google Docs, Tana etc. The tool doesn’t matter, it’s about having a system.

What is the Systems Thinking Mindset?

Broadly speaking, System Thinking is a mindset and approach where you look under the surface of problems thoroughly.

Are you approaching your struggles in a “Systems Thinking” way?

Are you approaching your struggles in a “Systems Thinking” way?

You do this from different angles by asking good questions, using data, recognising patterns, making observations etc. before jumping to conclusions.

It’s about staying opening minded and curious. It’s about looking at things holistically when solving a problem.

My 7-Step Writing System

In the context of writing, I looked at the struggles I faced through the lens of Systems Thinking and realised for me to be consistent with writing and creating value regularly, I needed a system that helped me with things such as:

  • Capture ideas easily no matter where I am.

  • An uncluttered digital workspace that is free from distractions.

  • Structures and templates to reduce the friction of a staring at a blank page.

  • Quick access to tools, checklists and resources I needed to help me with the writing process.

So here’s my simple writing system in Notion that I have fined tuned over the last 12 months to help me write regularly (including writing this newsletter!)

1. Schedule a time for writing

You won’t magically find time to write.

You actually need to consciously schedule time in your day to write. Put it on the calendar. Put it on your task list.

I set aside 1 hour a day to write (sometimes more if I find the creative juices keep flowing).

I’m currently participating in Ship 30 for 30 and aiming to publish an atomic essay a day for 30 days on X. So blocking time in my timeblock plan every day to write at 9am is key to actually publishing 1 essay a day.

2. Capture

Ideas will come to you any time.

While you’re walking, in the shower or cooking. The best ideas often come to you in moments when your doing an unrelated activity.

(Sorry, I probably can’t solve your capture problem in the shower with Notion 😂)

Have a system to capture writing ideas, notes from reading books and articles, ideas from listening to podcasts etc. is really important as a writer.

Notion is a great capture tool because it’s available on all platforms. In my Writer’s Hub OS Dashboard, I have a Idea Capture button sitting at the very top of the dashboard. So when an idea comes, I will quickly whip out my phone to capture it into my Idea Repository in Notion, and then carry on with what I was doing previously.

I currently have an ever growing list 200+ writing ideas that I can dive into anytime I feel stuck.

Idea inbox in the Writer’s Hub OS

Idea inbox in the Writer’s Hub OS

I also have a dedicated capture page in Notion that I call my “Inbox”. This is a favourited page in my Notion sidebar so that I can quickly open it up in the webbrowser, desktop app or mobile phone app to quickly capture tasks, notes, content ideas and new knowledge sources into my Notion system.

Capture Inbox in Notion

Capture Inbox in Notion

The only downside for me is that there is no offline mode. This means where there is no internet connection I can’t use Notion. I have other workarounds for working offline.

3. Headline

If I don’t have a particular idea in mind to write about, I will browse my Idea Repository in my Writer’s Hub OS for ideas and pick 1 idea that grabs my attention.

Idea Repository in Writer’s Hub OS in Notion

Idea Repository in Writer’s Hub OS in Notion

I start brainstorming headlines for that particular topic or idea. Normally it takes me 3 to 4 versions of a headline before I’m ready to move on to the next stage of my writing process.

If I need some headline inspirations, I’ll pop into ChatGPT to get some ideas or refine an existing headline I have.

From my experience, if I’m not clear on the headline of an essay or piece of content, I will struggle to write the actual content itself.

4. Prep the page

For me, this step is all about brain dumping key points under the following headers: Introduction, Main Points & Conclusion. This gives me an overall structure and outline for the essay or content piece so that I have something to expand on in the writing step.

Having a clean new page that I write on is key to writing distraction free. If I need some writing frameworks and tips to refer to during this phase, I have a quick reference list to the right handside of the Notion page.

One of Notion’s brilliant features is it’s Template function. Everytime I add a new idea to my Writer’s Hub OS, I can automatically apply a template so that this is ready to go when I start brain dumping.

I use Notion templates to help systemise my writing

5. Writing

Once I have an outline for my content, I set myself a 30 minute timer and just start expanding on the dot points in Step 4 in my Notion page.

The timer keeps me focused on the task at hand. Every 30 or 60 minutes is also a good time point to get out of the chair to stretch or have a drink of water.

During the writing step, I don’t focus too much on refining my sentences or worrying about typos as that will be sorted out in the next step.

6. Editing

I find the most effective way to identify issues with the flow of the content or find typos is to simply read it out loud.

Sometimes I'll copy the writing into Hemingway App to help with the proofreading and editing process.

7. Engage with others

After hitting publish on my social media posts, essays or newsletter articles, it's time check out the content of my peers, readers and industry leaders.

I try to do this after I’ve done the “deep work” of writing and hitting publish. This helps me avoid going down the social media or content consumption rabbit hole.

During the Ship 30 for 30 cohort, there is always a ton of interesting people and topics in the community to engage with.

Reading and interacting with others always gives me more ideas that I can inject back into my Idea Repository. And the process starts again!

❗️ Recap: I use a Systems Thinking mindset to understand my struggles with being able to write consistently, then solved this problem by creating a 7-step system to help me write consistently, without the burnout and overwhelm.

The Writer’s Hub OS is just one of many system I’ve put in place in Notion to help me craft a deeper life of doing work I enjoy and finding time for passions outside of work.

Systems = success

Me!

If you’re interested in my writing system and how I do this in Notion, my Mini-Course: Writer’s Hub OS in Notion shows you:

  • The exact Writer’s Hub OS system I use in Notion.

  • How to build your own Writer’s Hub OS in Notion (Notion Template is included if you don’t want to learn Notion to build your own).

  • How to use the Writer’s Hub OS to write and publish consistent, especially if you have a day job and writing is a side hustle or hobby.

  • The 20% of Notion’s features to unlock 80% of Notion’s superpowers.

I’m also super grateful for the helpful feedback I’ve been getting on the Mini-course as I build it along side the early supporters (pre-sale buyers). Here’s one example:

Tesimonial and feedback from a pre-sale customer and supporter

I’m very close to finalising the course, so the pre-sale price of AUD$29 will be ending next Thursday 26th October 2023.

I’m very close to announcing the special bonus just for Pre-Sale and Early Bird customers, so stay tuned for that! I’ll be announcing it in next week’s newsletter issue.

A weekly roundup of interesting and relevant resources in the realm of Slow Productivity and Notion systems to help you find time to cultivate your passions beyond work.

  1. If You're Busy, You're Doing Something Wrong: The Surprisingly Relaxed Lives of Elite Achievers by Cal Newport

    The best violinists spent more time relaxing and less time practicing than the average violinists. But when they practiced they were hyperfocused and deliberate with their practice. This is a fascinating deep dive into the difference between Hard Work and Hard To Do Work.

    Read the article

  2. How to get more done by working smarter using $10K Work with Khe Hy

    The $10k Framework is one of my favourite tools to use when thinking about how I spend my time. Not all tasks are created equal. Khe is a great speaker, thinker and writer. If you are new to his $10k Framework, then check out this talk he gave.

    Watch the video

That’s it!

Thanks for reading.

Hit reply and let me know if you struggle with being consistent in writing (or any other aspect in life) —I’d love to hear from you!

See you next week,

CK

Whenever you're ready, here are 3 ways I can help you:

  1. Ultimate Guide: How to create your digital writing system in Notion under 1 hour (Free!): Ready to learn how to use Notion to create your own writing system so you can write consistently?

    Join 110+ people who have downloaded this guide to build their own Writer’s Hub OS in Notion with built-in slow productivity principles.

  2. Mini-Course: Writer’s Hub OS in Notion (Pre-sale ending soon): Learn how to build a simple “Idea to Published” writing system in Notion or just plug and play a done-for-you template. Perfect for digital writers, solopreneurs and content creators to help you achieve long term sustainable and stress-free daily writing & content creation habit.

  3. Travel Hub Notion Template (Free!): All-in-one Travel Planner that helps you ideate, plan, research and organise your trip stress free using Notion.

    Join 700+ people who have already downloaded this system and upped their travel planning game.

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