I needed some time off. As part of an effort to spend less and explore more of what’s around me, I booked a week away near a village called Cwmystwyth in Ceredigion, Wales. It’s easily drivable from Bristol and I also have friends a little further North, near Machynlleth. I picked it as I wanted to be somewhere remote, near mountains and running water. Check. Airbnb near Cwmystwyth Cwmystwyth is a small village nestled alongside the river Ystwyth, which flows all the way west to Aberystwyth.
It’s been nearly 2 years, but I’m back writing again. What happened? Well, I cofounded Almanac with some very smart people, and then this year we raised $9m in seed funding. Which was great news, but of course, also the reason I stopped writing. Things are no less busy now, but I would like to share more thoughts, spurred on by so much of what is happening in the world at the moment: racial violence, global pandemic, political polarisation and an increasing intolerance of open discussion.
My Kindle is one of my favourite gifts from my wife. I resisted the idea of an electronic reader for a long time, but after seeing Gina use hers on holiday and at home, my curiosity grew. Besides the convenience, a big selling point for me was highlighting—being able to select and save passages from what I was reading. I rarely read without taking notes, so being able to save and review notes digitally was an irresistible proposition.
Too much of our time is lost struggling with painful feelings that we cannot express. We try to move forward, try to put up a good fight, but there is something malign and pervasive colouring our mood. It drains our energy, saps our motivation, but remains out of sight. It’s uncomfortable, but even more important than that, it’s unclear. Whether fear, worry, sadness or doubt—it is this lack of clarity that keeps us feeling stuck.
When you start writing its natural to obsess over the quality of what you share. You’ve read good writing—and this is not it. Your words look feeble and forced. Better to postpone your noble endeavour until you are worthy. Here’s the underlying belief: these words aren’t good enough to publish, yet. I’ll keep going until they are. Procrastination, recalibration. Here’s the truth: It’s not about the right words; it’s about using your voice.
It’s time to break the tyranny of note-taking apps and blogging platforms: write your online content in a universal language that encourages flow and keeps you focused on the content. When you’re writing for the Internet, you want to be able to save and move your writings around as easily as possible. You don’t want each new app loosing bits of your formatting. After you’ve published your words, you don’t want them locked into that one particular presentation forever, right?
Organising anything with Trello is a joy: Web and mobile versions of Trello mean you can easily edit your projects from anywhere. A lot of writing apps aren’t so portable. Simple to use: intuitive, visual and very low barrier to entry All backed up to The Cloud ☁️ Really easy to drag and drop images into cards, as well as adding checklists It’s freeeeeee You might use Trello to manage projects, weddings, holidays… but a blog?
2021 update: I no longer use Ghost to power this blog! But I still think it’s an outstanding project and that the company are pioneering many practices that should be more widespread. I still frequently recommend it to others. Alas, the nerd in me got hooked on blogging via writing offline and committing changes through git. This blog is now powered by Hugo. Up until now, every time I wanted to start writing I’d expend 97% of my energy thinking about how I could build a blog, which features I want, testing fonts, browsing themes and saving colour schemes.
It’s been five months since I launched this blog. I’ve written 14 articles, generated a whopping £2.68 in Amazon referral fees, and built a staggering 19-strong subscriber list. But I wasn’t an overnight success. It’s taken me a long time to get to the point of publishing these posts. For years, I amassed notes and shared nothing. I was held back by a multitude of fears that pin most people down when they consider sharing their creative work.
My writings tend to revolve around a few reocurring themes: Investing in perennial practises over short-term lifehacks. This means cultivating the slow habits that really make a difference to our minds and bodies. This is achieved through prioritising consistency and cultivating a skepticism towards the immediate solution. Protecting ourselves against the misdirection of attention from things that appear to provide fulfilment and instead focusing on those timeless sources of fulfilment under our noses.