The idea of writing in a journal seems like a quaint or juvenile pursuit, the domain of Moleskine-toting hipsters or angst-ridden teenagers. More recently, this style of writing has been co-opted by the startup culture as a part of a ‘content strategy’ to ‘build brands’ and ‘acquire early adopters’.
For me, writing was truly a personal project. I put over 40,000 words into a word processor before even considering a WordPress theme for a blog or a distribution method for my content.
I write for three reasons:
- First, for nostalgia. It’s the same reason why I’ve saved every version of my one-page pitch for LabDoor. It’s fun to look back on my vision for the company on the day the concept was conceived. During a time where I didn’t stop to consider a name for this future venture, and instead furiously keyed in the words that described the company I wished existed.
- Second, for introspection. I used to have weaknesses as an entrepreneur. I still do, but I also did then. The best way that I’ve found to become a stronger leader and entrepreneur is to diligently study the strategy and actions of my past self and unmercifully play Monday Morning Quarterback against myself.
- Finally, for posterity. There’s a chance that current and aspiring entrepreneurs could learn something from my short, but eventful startup life. It would be a shame to see my past failures wasted without turning into a teachable moment.
So how does an entrepreneur working over 100 hours a week find time to blog? It’s simple – just wait until the words force themselves out of your head, and rush to a tape recorder or word processor to record your thoughts. Forcing yourself in front of a blank screen or notebook on a daily basis is a fool’s errand. Good writing cannot be summoned on demand. But you’ll be amazed how quickly 1,000 words on fundraising pour out of you during a stressed hour between two crucial VC pitches.
The most important thing about blogging as an entrepreneur (or investor for that matter) is not to let elecution get in the way of execution. The grammar, sentence structure, or word choice matters little. Just get the words on paper, or into bits and bytes. I also rarely use my first 10-12 hours of daily energy to write in my startup journal. My best writing instead often comes during the last 1-2 ‘wind-down’ hours between work and sleep, sometimes fueled by a half-bottle of wine.
The key to great writing is to write for yourself. Be excessively honest. Save the hype for your next TechCrunch interview. Just record your thoughts, watch them evolve, learn from your mistakes, and most importantly, keep building a company worth writing about. With a great story, the words will write themselves.