- Part-Time Writing by Jason Gutierrez
- New or Aspiring Writers Start Here 🖊️
New or Aspiring Writers Start Here 🖊️
A no-hassle quickstart guide to get you writing and publishing online today
Hey there! Welcome to Part-Time Writing, the best newsletter for busy, intelligent professionals writing alongside their nine-to-five. I share stories and insights from my engineering career, writing, and life.
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Mr. Beast is the king of YouTube.
234,000,000 subscribers (as of 1/24/24)
41,868,522,862 video views
774 videos published
But unlike most monarchs, he didn’t inherit his empire. Mr. Beast earned the crown through thousands of hours of hard work. A true self-made man.
He offers simple, free advice to anyone who wants to become a YouTuber:
Create and publish 100 videos while improving on one aspect with each video.
For example, your first video — just get it out there and familiarize yourself with the process. The video is going to suck but that’s expected. The second, try to improve your narrative. The next, try to stutter less. The fourth, read a tip on thumbnails and implement it. So on and so forth.
Each new video gets a little better than the previous, and you get a little better as a creator.
The idea is that by your 100th video, you‘ll be a rockstar video creator and your videos won’t suck.
The Roadmap to Your First 100 Stories
Writing and making videos are two entirely different crafts, but they share the same roadmap to success.
I made a lot of mistakes when I started writing. The biggest was that I wasted time trying to shortcut the process. I took courses, read books, and wrote emails to popular bloggers begging them to share my work. At the time I had written maybe three articles in total.
What I should have been doing was writing — working my way toward 100 published pieces. Everything else was wasted effort.
So when newer writers tell me, “I have no clue where or how to get started,” this is what I tell them:
1. Go to Medium.com and set up an account
There are other platforms to choose (Quora is another fantastic one for example), but Medium is my current favorite. As of 2023, it’s got over 100 million active users, which means lots of people to potentially see your work. It’s also user-friendly and easy to navigate.
2. Take 5 minutes to skim through stories from other writers
Pay attention to:
The topics they write about
Their format (headers, subheaders, paragraphs, etc.)
3. Jot down a few ideas of things you’d like to write about
If you have nothing after 5 minutes, steal the topic from the last story you read. Trust me it’s not plagiarism. Topics are finite and writers steal ideas all the time.
No need for any fancy tool to capture ideas. I use Apple Notes.
4. Go to your home page and click on “Write” in the upper-right
Image by author
This opens up Medium's word processor.
Image by author
I love it. It’s simple, elegant, and the blank page makes it clear that writing is the focus.
5. Write your first story
It will suck.
It might look sloppy. Might not flow well (if it even makes any sense at all). Publish it anyway. Don’t worry about adding it to a publication, tagging it, or anything like that yet.
I wouldn’t even care if anyone reads it (they probably won’t). Just press publish.
This familiarizes you with the process. Plus, there’s some magic behind pressing that button on something you’ve created.
6. Write 100 more stories and improve on one thing at a time
This is the most important part.
It’s also the part where you’re most likely to give up. If you can make it to 100 stories, I’d bet that you’ll eventually find success. If you stop short, well, maybe writing isn’t your thing.
The only way to succeed as a writer is to write good stuff that people want to read. Period. There is no other way.
You have to do the work to get the results.
The main goal of writing 100 stories is to improve your writing to reach that level of quality. But some other neat, helpful things happen along the way:
Your personal content library grows. When people ask, “What have you done?” You have something concrete to show them. You’re a writer with a growing library of work.
You build trust and credibility. Your content library speaks to your knowledge and hard work. It’s not easy to publish 100 pieces of writing. Your readers recognize your efforts.
You learn what resonates with your readers. Most of your stories won’t get much traction. A few of them will. Those are the ones you’ll be able to study for what went right.
You learn how to market your writing. Spending time on Medium will familiarize you with its landscape. You become a part of the community. You learn what publications are, who their gatekeepers are, and how to get your work in front of as many eyes as possible.
Remember that you want to focus on improving one aspect at a time with each new story. Don’t write the same shitty story 100 times and expect things to change.
Do the work. Improve your craft.
If you need, here’s a starter list of some things you can aim to improve on with each new story:
Introductions / hooks
Overall flow / coherence
7. Keep going
After you write 100 stories, you’ll be a different writer. You’ll be more confident in your work and more in tune with your unique path as a writer. I guarantee you won’t feel as lost as you do today.
So, keep going. Keep publishing. Keep improving.
I’m already excited to see where you end up.
Other Helpful Tips for Your Journey
Remember, writing is your top priority.
If you’re busy like me, you might only have 60 minutes to write. Or much less. I suggest using most of that time to write your stories. (Honestly, ALL of it if you’re just starting).
That said, there are some things, outside of the writing process, you’ll eventually want to learn along the way.
Here are a few other actions that I recommend for when you have the extra time:
Continue to read other authors and study their work
Expand on your idea library — again, I keep it simple and write down all of my ideas in Apple Notes, right on my phone. Hone your senses and be on the lookout for ideas everywhere. Anything not written down gets forgotten.
Read some guides on publications and how to become a writer for them
Learn how to use tags to help the right readers find your stuff
Comment on other author’s stories. Say nice or thoughtful things. This is how you become part of the community (and it helps to expand your reach). A lot of followers find me because I comment on their favorite writers’ stories.
Pick a viral article from an established author and re-type it word for word (but don’t publish it as your own). This is for PRACTICE only. However, it’s a surprisingly effective exercise to teach you how it feels to write as an expert. Word choice. Sentence flow and structure. All things that you can translate into your own writing as you improve.
And that’s it. That’s all you need to know to start writing today.
Oh, and as a writer who just wants to see his colleagues succeed, if you ever want free writing advice, show me proof that you’ve published 100 pieces and I’ll be glad to hop on a call.
My guess is that by then you probably won’t need it.