I’m Going to Start Writing Again [The Comeback of My Blog]

There’s a been a lull in my writing. A long one.

In 2014, I just didn’t write much at all.

Partly this is justifiable, but also maybe partly it isn’t.

The reason why it is a bit justifiable is the same reason I would stop reading English books for a bit: to focus on things. Namely studying Chinese, training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, or working and making money.

Priorities are always flip flopping around in life. But, to some extent I’m cool with that. I’m cool with riding a bit of a wave on certain priorities. I’m busy with work this month, then I’m busy with work this month. If I’m not so busy with work, maybe I’m in the gym everyday, training.

While I am cool with these priorities flopping around a bit, I do to some extent wish I was a bit more consistent with things. I don’t really wish I was a robot, but I do wish I was pushing some things out on a more consistent basis.

I’ll use training as an example: going to the gym everyday for a month and then taking the next month off vs. going three days a week consistently for 2 months. Which is better?

Theoretically, I don’t really know. And, personally, I’m cool with, or I want to be cool with to some extent, the former – going everyday for a month, and then chilling for a month. Why? Because it allows for intense focus, and then in the off-time it allows for a focus on something else.

But, there’s also a lot to be said for the later. Going consistently for 2 months certainly does more for building up a habit. It’s not yet quite as automatically as brushing your teeth before bed, but there is something to say about habits that they take less mental focus (i.e.: less decision-making: going to the gym is something I do on these days, therefore it gets done and I’m there before I know it. There’s no internal debate about whether to go or not go going on.) And this is really what a lot of the goals boil down to with habit-building. This is why its nice to have a nice routine.

But, its also nice to shake things up. To break from the routine once in awhile.

There’s no perfect answer to life. There’s no straight line to success.

It looks more like this:

Success

So. I want to write again. Think again. Pretend to be an intellectual. Flesh out my thoughts. Something like that.

Should I write daily? I should. Should I do BJJ daily? I should. Should I study Chinese daily? I should. Should I work everyday so that I have money to do things I want to do? I should.

And, the list builds up again. There’s not enough time in the day for it all. So, I ride the waves. The ebbs and flows.

I do want to be more consistent though.

So, I’m going to write again.

Write With Me. Learn With Me.

I’ve decided to invite a few of you all to join me…

If you saw my post last week, you know that I’m now focused on sitting down and writing everyday. This includes doing the following:

  1. Writing 3 pages of uninterrupted thought (The Morning Pages)
  2. Copying out by hand some of my favorite and/or best performing blogposts and articles

The idea for step 1 comes from Julia Cameron who I learned about through Masa Matsumoto when I interviewed him about his life and travels.

The idea for the second step comes from my experience copying ads by hand with Derek Johansen’s CopyHour course. If you want to learn how to write copywriting: advertisements, sales letters, or just interested in internet marketing, email lists, and squeeze pages – I highly recommend you check his course out.

But, if you’re interesting in what I’m doing now – becoming a better writer/blogger, then I’ve decided to share my daily structure though a 30-day email program. It’s free to sign up and allows you to learn along with me. It’s basically just my swipe file of 30 articles and blogposts.

But if you want to practice your writing/blogging and don’t know where to start, then feel free to tag along.

This could also help if you are an English-is-a-2nd language speaker. Since everything included are blogposts and articles it’s basically nonfiction and written in more of a spoken voice. (Rather than the literary prose and long descriptive sentences of fiction writers).

Write with Me

Write with Me

A quick disclaimer though: don’t sign up if you get offended easy.

Most of the swipe file comes from blogs. Some from articles. Almost all authors are good at arguing a point. Some you may not agree with. That’s fine. The point is to learn. Not agree with everything. But, I will say this: almost all of the articles and posts I have included are written from a male voice. Meaning they are mainly male authors and may touch on subjects such as sex or politics from a male point-of-view.

Why? Because I write with a male voice. From a male perspective. So, these are the guys I want to learn from.

So, if your sensibilities get all offended from reading controversial pieces. Or if you get bothered just by hearing names such as Christopher Hitchens or Roosh V, then simple… don’t sign up. Don’t learn with me. The course isn’t for you.

That said…. if you’re still here and you are interested in learning how to crank out well-performing blogposts, or structure well-written arguments, sign up here and join me for the next 30 days.

Join Me 

Name:

Email:

We respect your email privacy

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How I F—ed Up April; And What’s Next On My Plate

I just finished Derek Johanson’s CopyHour course.

I spend most of the past two and half months waking up everyday, going to a coffee shop with my notebook – and handwriting out some of the best performing ads ever. I studied the masters – Gary Bencivenga, Gary Halbert, Jay Abraham. Everyday. For the most part. I got into a nice little rhythm.

Now it’s over. Now what?

It just ended. The ending just happened. The last day. The goal. There was no parade. There was no big party. Just a last ad written.

Now, what do I do? Tomorrow I wake up… and.. what?

I need a new project. Life feels weird without a personal project on the table.

I went from studying Japanese everyday for 3 months to studying copywriting everyday for 2 months. Now what? I need a new plan. And, I have it figured out. I know what I need to do.

No. I said no parade

No. I said no parade

Spreading Yourself Too Thin: How I botched April

There’s been times in life when I took on too many things at once. I did that in the MBA sometimes as well. I learned from it. I knew when I was in Singapore – to keep my focus straight. Then, I moved to Japan and kept my focus on Japanese. Too many focuses leads to too many broken promises. Too many things undone. It’s not even time management as much as it is effort management. You just can’t focus on multiple things at a time. Multitasking fails.

Yet, even knowing this I still make the mistake sometimes. That’s what I did in April. I jumped the gun. The blog had just launched, so I was trying to manage that and maintain a proper post schedule. I was taking on more consulting projects. I was doing the copywriting course every morning. And, then I decided I’d start writing a book too. I launched an IndieGogo campaign around the book. And, I even tried to start studying Chinese as well.

Way too much, dude. It wasn’t long before I realized the mistake. How I got carried away I don’t know. I mean, the reason I included the word ‘focus’ in the name of the blog was because I know how important actual ‘focus’ is to achieving anything and getting anything done.

Yet, even still, I completely botched April. My focus was everywhere. 5784747234 bazillion things at once. Too many new ideas floating around and new projects started.

I caught myself and shut it all down. System re-load.

I chose to focus on finishing up CopyHour – and prioritized it. It needed to be done, since some weeks in April I had fallen to only doing it twice a week – when it was supposed to be an everyday thing.

I focused on that – getting in a morning ritual that included waking up and going to nearby cafe in my pajamas, still with bed-head – to have my morning espresso and write out my ads. Only then did I come back, take a shower, get dressed, and head into the office. The people at the cafe probably think I wear the same t-shirt and shorts everyday. Oh well. That’s my sleeping clothes. Calm down.

I postponed everything else. Learning Chinese? – postponed until later, much to the chargin of my Taipei language exchange buddies. The book? – postponed until later. The IndieGogo campaign? I just totally shutdown promotion of it and let it fizzle out unnoticed. Things can be learned from this. I can be better. It’s all about where you put your focus.

It’s All About Focus

I think that longer-term focus needs to thought of in the same light as multitasking. The latest research in multi-tasking shows that beyond two tasks, our effectiveness drops tremendously. I think the same applies to longer-term projects. That means that if your work/job is taking up some of your focus, then you only have room for one other thing – one personal project. Not millions.

Multi-tasking = time waste

This is one reason New Year’s Resolutions commonly fail. People underestimate the amount of focus that taking on a completely new project takes. They also probably overestimate the amount of focus they have to go around. Which, is probably not much if you have a life full of other things. New projects, if you want to actually complete them, have to be prioritized above EVERYTHING ELSE.

If you’re trying to do something completely new, something you are unaccustomed to doing, and you can’t prioritize it above EVERYTHING else. I’d bet money that you don’t follow through – that you don’t finish. This is what usually happens. [But, once you’re accustomed to doing something, it’s Easy Like Accounting.]

It’s all about focus. And a completely new habit takes a tremendous amount of focus. You have to be prepared for that going in.

So, that’s why I prioritized CopyHour. The blog was still new, still taking a lot of focus – it’s not running on autopilot yet. Writing a book would take tremendous amounts of focus. Learning Chinese would take tremendous amounts of focus. It all had to fall back.

Now, What’s Next?

So, now I did it. I finished up CopyHour. Now, I need a new project.

Oh, and my time in Taipei is winding down. I need a new destination.

Nothing too special – just going back to Singapore. And then back to Tokyo. [Wish you could travel like that?]

Oh, and my new project is just to continue to improve my writing. I’m going to take what I learned from copywriting exercises and apply to other types of writing as well. Mainly, blog posts. For now. But, the book will still come later.

In case, you are wondering, here’s the daily schedule for the next month:

  1. Wake up, write 3 pages of uninhibited thought (The Morning Pages)
  2. Copy a favorite or well-performing blogpost or article.
  3. Write a blogpost – 1,000+ words

Steps 1&2 are handwritten. Step 3, typed of course.

Also to note: this does not mean I’ll be posting to the blog 7 days a week now. I’ll maintain my normal post volume of twice a week. It just means I’ll be writing 7 days a week. Mainly to work on getting into the habit of writing and to improve my writing. Most of these posts will probably never see the light of day.

Every day

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The Many Faces of Success: Japanese Vagabond – Fighter and Freelancer

“We think of success as only measured by your money. / But, money never lasts. / In fact, it’s only last / on the list of impactful things you can ask for / …So, with that – we need us a plan…” – Wale, The Perfect Plan

Welcome to The Many Faces of Success Interview Series: a reoccurring interview series focusing on success in many forms. From entrepreneurs to writers, to travelers who are just living the life they want to live…in this interview series I sit down with people who are living and defining their own success on their own terms, people who I find inspiring, and whose stories I find interesting enough to share here.

In today’s post I sit down with fellow traveler and blogger, Masafumi Matsumoto. Masa is originally from Japan, but has been travelling and living abroad for over a year now, mainly in Southeast Asia. His blog at MasafumiMatsumoto.com is a place where he shares his writings: “writings on life and love.” He describes himself as “a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter, vagabond, translator, copywriter, lover of life and beauty, and curious learner.”

I caught up with him while we were both staying in Taipei and he was willing to be the “guinea pig” in the Many Faces of Success Interview Series.

 

Masafumi Matsumoto

Masafumi Matsumoto

Here is his story:

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William: You’ve been traveling for awhile now. What initially inspired you to leave Japan and live on the road?

Masa: That’s a tough question actually. Somehow I was interested in living this kind of lifestyle. If I think about it, when I was a high school student one of my teachers asked me what I was going to do when I finish University. I was planning to study Philosophy. That was in 2001, so about 12 years ago. I hadn’t heard of digital nomads or anything like that, and I don’t think there were many then. But, when he asked me that question, I thought that maybe in 10 years or so the internet will be much more available. So, maybe I will be able to work from anywhere and maybe I will be a writer or something.

So I had a kind of vision, but I didn’t take it seriously really.

I think my first real inspiration was Chris Guillebeau when he published his free ebook, A Brief Guide to World Domination. I think it was 2007, 2008 maybe. I got to know about about Chris and what he was doing and it made me realize that that kind of lifestyle was a real possibility  There’s someone doing it!

So, I think Chris was my first real inspiration to make this kind of lifestyle happen. I think it was also around the time when Tim Ferriss published his book, The 4 Hour Workweek.

Ok. So you mention in 2001 you thought about it, then in 2007 you heard about Chris and that’s when you really got inspired. What where you doing between that time?

Well, I was in Australia. Thats where I went to University. Around that time I was trying to become a freelance translator. I mean that was the only thing I knew I could freelance and make money and I knew I was at least okay with my translation skills.

You got into translation because you were bilingual?

Yes. To be honest, I didnt think much about other possibilties, like copywriting for example.

Right now I’m starting my own copywriting service. I think I have a very good background for it, and once I got started, and got a little experience I could see that I would actually be quite good at copywriting. And I actually do enjoy copywriting a little more than translation.

Yeah, I guess copywriting allows you to be a little more creative, allows you to tell a story through your copy…

Yeah, and of course being a freelance translator gives you flexibility and freedom without the pressure of time. Well, that’s not always the case sometimes you have a tight deadline and you have to submit before the deadline. So you have irregular work hours.

How long have you been doing translation?

Almost 4 years now.

Ok. And, how long have you been traveling and living on the road?

I started traveling extensively since February last year. But I did a “mini-travel” for one month in 2011. So, I think that was a good test for whether I could support myself with translation and live this lifestyle.

So you’ve been doing freelance translation to support yourself and now you’re doing copywriting as well. Is there anything else you’ve tried along the way? Any other ventures to make income you attempted while you’ve been traveling?

Not really. Well, I kind of did. I tried to some affiliate marketing and those kinds of things. But, I guess the thing is I wasn’t really intersted in – well, I was interested in making money to support myself – but I wasn’t interested in selling someone else’s products that way.

It’s not as exciting as copywriting or even translation. I mean some poeple are interested in affiliate marketing and these kinds of things – but for me, not so much.

Now, I know another thing you are very passionate about is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Do you train in every city you stay in while you travel?

Yes, that is the case. And, I know I mentioned Chris Guillebeau as an inspiration earlier, but another inspiration when I started travelling was Christian Graugart. He wrote a blog called BJJ Globetrotter, and when I saw that I thought it would pretty cool to incorporate into my travel and lifestyle as well. Because Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is something I have practiced for 11 years now.

Ok, yeah I have heard a lot of good things about martial arts and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in particular. How do you think BJJ has affected your approach to life and affected your thought process?

Well, I think it’s really helped actually. It’s given me the discipline of working on one skill and one particular thing over and over, every single day in order to be good at it. And, I think this applies to other skills as well, and is something I have used for other skills. I have currently been working on copywriting and I handwrite ads by hand, every day, in order to build the skill. So, it’s similar I think.

Also, the point of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is you want to be calm. Completely calm and execute effortlessly while your opponent struggles. And I think it helps to apply this to life as well. You want reach the point in your skills where you are calm and things are effortless.

Yeah, that’s a really good point. That’s something I’ve noticed a lot and something I agree with a lot as well: working hard on your skills daily until you reach the point where its simple and effortless. I can see how Brazilian Jiu Jistu would help with that. It makes perfect sense. Anyway, let’s change gears a bit and talk a bit about your writing. You write your own blog. How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing my blog since the beginning of 2010. I started it on January 1, 2010 actually. That’s my birthday. And when I started writing I did a 12 week course – a course I got from a book I read, called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. It’s a really good book actually and her premise is that you can rediscover your creativity in 12 weeks.

So, I did that, and I kept doing what she calls The Morning Pages, which is every morning after you wake up, you handwrite 3 pages of uninhibited thought. You just write for 3 pages. I did that for awhile. Not the whole time that I’ve been writing the blog, because I stopped doing it, but I’ve recently started doing it again.

Ok. So it sounds like you have a pretty good morning routine going now. You wake up everyday, handwrite 3 pages of uninhibited thought, then you handwrite copy…

Yeah, and actually, that is how I learned English as well. I mean I went to English school, but when I really improved my English, I did it by handwriting English everyday and saying what I was writing out loud. It really helped me get familiar with language and internalize the grammar and structure, ways of saying things.

And, now you write a blog in English. So what is that like: writing in your second language? Do you ever find it difficult, seeing as its not your native tongue?

Actually, I find that when I write I express myself better in English. Well, you know I went to University in Australia and I studied Philosophy  so I had to write a lot papers. I’m at a point now where I’ve been writing in English for a long time, many years. So, I can express myself better when writing English versus Japanese. I never really write Japanese actually. Only when I email my mother or something like that.

Okay. So what about speaking? Do you find it easier to express yourself when speaking in English as well?

Well, yeah, in a way. Because when I speak Japanese, I have a Japanese mind. So, I have to think about who I’m speaking with and whether I have to be very polite. Not that I’m not polite when I speak English, but its different.

Yeah, that makes sense. So, I’m curious what are your future plans? Where is this all going?

Well, I plan to continue traveling. And, I plan to be great at copywriting.

As far as travel plans, well, I’m going to Philippines soon to compete in a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournament. After that, I’m traveling to Europe. I’m flying to Sweden and then I plan to go to Poland, and start my own “Euro Trip” from Poland. I haven’t been to Europe yet, so I am pretty excited.

Yeah, that sounds good. Sounds like an exciting trip. Well, you have done a bit of traveling, what was your favorite place so far?

Favorite place? Oh, that’s a hard one. Cambodia was quite impressive. But as far as living? I have to say Taipei has been really good to me. Obviously when I’m travelling one of the most important things to me is that there is good Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training where I go and Taipei has been really good in that respect and there is a lot to do here as well. Yeah, Taipei has been good.

 

Taipei. Photo by: William Peregoy.

Taipei. (Photo by: William Peregoy.)

 

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For more on Masa, please check out his blog at MasafumiMatsumoto.com

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