Break Every Writing Rule With a Smile

I have an admission to make. Even though I call myself a writer, I have many limitations. For years I suffered from the self-limiting-belief that, since English is my second language, I could never become a writer. This week I came across an interesting admission by Tim Denning (the most prolific writer on Medium) which gave me a way to have fun with my limitations. Tim writes:

I have a huge secret: I purposely spell things wrong and mess up popular catchphrases or quotes. It keeps the reader engaged. They have to read over sections to figure out whether I made a mistake, have no clue what I’m doing, or whether I’m joking. It stops your writing from becoming boring and keeps readers on their toes.

Grammar rules were invented to be broken by interesting writers.

So I have inserted plenty of mistakes in today’s newsletter. Your job is to find those and tell me about them in the comments section. Let’s see how many you can find.

Authorpreneur Journey Step 2

Last week I revealed blogging as the first step of Authropreneur’s journey. I even gave you homework - buy a domain name and start a simple blog. I am hoping you have done that.

Now that you have a blog,, the question is what should you write in it.

My answer is - anything.

That is right. Your blog is a place where you can practice writing on any topic.

When I started blogging two years ago, I couldn’t put even two decent paragraphs together. So I started sharing other people’s stories I had read here and there. If you are brand new to blogging, have a peek at my earlier posts Aunt Grace’s Philosophy, Evoke the Senses With your Writing, Personal Stories are All About Change, and you will understand what I mean.

But I managed to gather courage and wrote some personal stuff such as Why I Started This Blog, Everyday Stories, and Publishing a Book Doesn’t Make You a Writer.

These were deep things at the time,, and I felt really exposed. But I had to do that. Being vulnerable is the first attribute of a writer. But I knew a secret. If I don’t tell anyone about my website address, on one will know what I was writing. Internet is a vast ocean where nobody knows what’s under the surface. Even the search engines won’t find you for 40 days or so. This is your time to practice your craft.

Once you start sharing your stories, two things happen - one, you overcome your vulnerability, and second, you become good at telling personal stories. The perfection in writing comes from retelling and rewriting.

To me, that is the biggest advantage of blogging.

The second advantage is you learn to write for an audience.

A writer buddy has been writing in her diaries all her life. She works in a communication job and is an excellent writer. But she feels intimidated writing a blog post. There is a big difference between writing for yourself and writing for an audience. And when you are writing a blog, you learn to write for an audience, even if no one is reading.

When you are new to blogging, you can write about your travels, philosophies, creativity, productivity, movies, books, or whatever engrossed your fancy.

If you have already been blogging, pick a topic (or a niche, as they say) to write on. Something specific. Something in alignment with your values and your business plan (more about business plan in a future newsletter).

You can either pick a topic you know a lot about and share your knowledge about it. Or you can pick a topic you want to learn about and write about it as you learn. Teaching is a great way to learn, and the bonus is you don’t lose your interest in the topic. I chose authorpreneurship as a topic for this section of the newsletter because I am learning about it. As I learn and apply, I write and share.

One thing the new writers fear is that if a pick a topic, they will run out of material to write about. Let me tell you a secret, the more niche a topic is, the easier it is to write, and you never run out of material. Here are the mind maps of the topics I made when I started writing about storytelling on my blog.

The way to find topics is to keep going deep and deep. I started with Storytelling as the topic I was going to write blog posts about.

Then I used Jame Altucher’s Idea machine exercise. If you don’t know what it is, click the link and know more about it, but for this exercise, you are to write ten sub-topics for your top-level topic.

Then go deep and write ten sub-sub-topics to each of the sub-level topics you have written before.

You are to write just one word. Don’t go into writing headings or multiple words (you can cheat a bit and write two words, but no more).

At the end of this exercise, you will have 100 sub-sub-topics to write about. Don’t worry about expanding them into headings this stage, try to keep them limited to one word.

Now write 3 sub-sub-sub-topics in each sub-category. This will get to 300 topics to write on. Even if you write one topic each day, you have ten months’ worth of topics in stock.

Your homework this week:

Chose a topic and write ten sub-topics. Don’t take more than two minutes to write these. Then, each day, pick up three sub-topics and write ten sub-sub-topics. Keep going till you get to 300 subtopics.

If you are thinking, how the hell I am going to develop them into blog posts, don’t worry. We will go through that next week.

Writing Industry News

  • Bob Dylan sold his entire catalog of 600 songs for $300 million to Universal Music, the biggest music publishing deal in decades [The Guardian]. The 79-Year-old songwriter made history when he was awarded the Nobel prize in 2016. His songs expand over six decades and have sold more than 125m records worldwide. The deal is described as “the most significant music publishing agreement this century and one of the most important of all time. It has implications for the writing industry because whatever happens in the music industry happens in the writing industry a few years later. Don’t be surprised if in future Independent writers selling their book rights for millions of dollars.

  • Just like the music industry, the writing industry is also moving towards the streaming and subscription models. Today’s consumers want access to every book possible, that too at an affordable price. Like Netflix and Spotify, where they have unlimited access to movies, TV, and music, they want unlimited access to books. Kindle Unlimited, a book subscription service, is already in place, and there are many more of a similar kind popping up. In the audiobook market, Storytel and Scribd are available in the US and UK, and it won’t be possible for the big ones (Audible, Google Play, Kobo, Librivox, and Downpour) to resist the change for too long. The subscription model makes it possible for the readers to access any book they want and at an affordable price. According to Kevin Kelly, the founding editor of Wired magazine, “Possession is not as important as it once was. Accessing is more important than ever.”

What Am I Up to?

What Intrigued Me This Week?

I came across a book titled "I Remember." It is a 150-page memoir by Joe Brainard in which every sentence begins with “I remember…”

Here is an excerpt from it:

I remember Saturday night baths and Sunday morning comics.

I remember the first time I got a letter that said, “After Five Days Return To” on the envelope, and I thought that after I had kept the letter for five days I was supposed to return to the sender.

I remember the kick I used to get going through my parent’s drawers looking for rubbers (Peacock.)

I remember when polio was the worst thing in the world.

I remember pink dress shirts. And bola ties.

I remember when a kid told me that those sour clover-like leaves we used to eat (with little yellow flowers) tasted so sour because dogs peed on them. I remember that didn’t stop me from eating them.

I remember the first drawing I remember doing. It was of a bride with a very long train.

I remember my first cigarette. It was a Kent.

It is an interesting way of writing your memoir. I started a notebook and jot down two pages within five minutes.

That’s it from me this week.

Take care.

Neera Mahajan