Fun Size Ideas
There is only one way to become a better writer and build an audience that trusts you:
Publish your ideas consistently.
When I first made the commitment to publish an essay every week I made a list of things I wanted to write about. There were five things on the list.
I thought of important ideas. Things that really mattered and would make a difference in people’s lives. I asked myself, “How can I provide value to the world?”
I was a new online writer. My writing was okay. I had an audience of 15. My ideas were not being shared with the world.
So how was I supposed to come up with new ideas each week? And write something I was proud of in such a short amount of time??
The answer was Fun Size Ideas.
Fun Size Ideas are born of anecdotes: an argument with my husband, an interaction with a salesperson, an epiphany while reading a book. Something happens in our life that affects us in a way that we continue to think about it and maybe even talk about it. It’s something that evokes a strong emotion.
Take one of my recent essays. While on vacation with my family, every time my son cried someone in my family would say to him, “You’re fine.”
It got under my skin. And then if I held him and he stopped crying they would add, “You’re such a faker.” And that REALLY got under my skin.
So I did what I always do. I vented to my husband about it.
Then I knew it was an essay because it made me so fired up. Even though I wasn’t exactly sure what the point of my essay would be yet, I knew it would be easy and fun to write because of the strong emotion it evoked.
I didn’t need data points or parenting resources to write my essay. I just had to write about my experience, my feelings, and my own insecurities around parenting to write about an idea that mattered to me. A Fun Size Idea.
When I used to sit down to write an essay I didn’t think of Fun Size Ideas. I thought of big, important, magnum opus ideas. It’s not that big questions are bad questions. If you have a strong opinion about something and you’re excited to write about it, you should. But in order to sustain a weekly publishing habit, those types of questions create too much pressure and expectation.
When I first decided to write consistently online, one important topic I wanted to write about was weight and body image. I struggled with both for years and felt a responsibility and desire to share my stories.
But because it felt so heavy and so important, I found it difficult to put my ideas on paper. Nothing I wrote could match the experience of what I went through. Nothing I came up with was worthy of being published. There was no way I could fit everything I wanted to say into an essay. It was too important.
When I finally did write about some of those experiences, they served as anecdotes or little glimpses into my life. It was a low pressure way to write about highly emotional and personal topics, like in this short essay:
“For years, most of my waking thoughts revolved around what I was going to eat next. I meticulously planned out my food schedule and if anyone tried to surprise me with a ‘Wanna grab lunch?’ I’d panic and come up with an excuse so I could retreat to my room and eat 180 calories of vegetable soup and drink a can of diet vanilla Pepsi.”
Our big ideas pack a stronger punch when we condense them into Fun Size Ideas.
When we embrace the Publishing Paradox and share our Fun Size Ideas each week, we build our body of work little-by-little, piece-by-piece, brick-by-brick, until eventually, much later, we look back at everything we’ve written and say, “Oh, there’s my world view. There’s my big idea.”
You don’t start your journey with big ideas because you haven’t developed them yet. With each Fun Size Idea you get better at synthesizing your ideas and get better at writing, and only then do big ideas begin to form.
When you only have one week to write and publish it’s not realistic to write things that are important and life-shattering. The only way to build a writing and publishing habit is to have fun. And the best way to have fun is to share your Fun Size Ideas and hit publish.