30 Days to Better Writing by seanwes

30 Days to Better Writing is was a course by Sean McCabe of seanwes.

Update 2022: Sean McCabe has taken the course down and disappeared. I could not complete it in time to get a full set of notes. RIP.

The course objective is to build a writing habit in 30 days of consecutive daily writing.

Each day, Sean includes tips and advice, and optional writing prompts.

I’ve gone through this multiple times and enjoyed it every time.

I am taking and sharing my notes this time to help me internalize them.

Day 1 Stats

  • Word Count: 1270
  • Comments: Was a good brain dump. Got out lots of ideas I can build upon and act on. Mostly for the day job.

Notes

Any ideas we don’t write down will die when we die.

Writing something down increases the likelihood of it happening.

Writing is the starting point of all other mediums

  • Speeches
  • Products
  • Songs
  • Books
  • Podcasts, etc

It all starts with writing.

Writing is a skill that can be developed, and one of the most important skills available to humans.

If the best athletes train daily to improve their abilities, so should writers.

If you’re not good at writing now, that’s okay. You can learn.

Anything you care about and want to improve at must be practiced daily.

You don’t have to publish daily. You don’t have to share everything you write. But you must write.

Writing…

  • clears your mind
  • improves your speaking
  • improves how people see you
  • can grow your audience
  • can put your name on the map

Commit to writing daily. It must be scheduled.

Chain writing to another habit.

Example: After waking up, make coffee. Once coffee is ready, sit down and write.

Sean suggests starting for 20 minutes per day.

Set goals as time instead of word count.

It doesn’t need to be perfect. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar or anything else.

Just write.

Set a timer for 20 minutes and write until it goes off.

Sean offers the following writing prompts:

  • What made you enroll in this course?
  • What are 3 ways you think writing will benefit you?
  • What are you afraid of when it comes to writing?
  • What sacrifices will you have to make in order to carve out half an hour a day for writing?

Day 2 Stats

  • Word Count: 1226
  • Comments: Another good stream of consciousness…did some planning and got some clarity. Used the writing prompts.

Notes

Getting started is the hardest part…but once you get started it’s easy to keep going.

One problem is that you don’t schedule the writing, which gives you the “freedom” to put it off.

Also schedule the end…the limited time helps.

Too many options, too much time, and too much freedom will paralyze you.

Don’t worry about the first words being the right words. They won’t be.

Write all of the words, right and wrong. Delete the wrong words later.

You can’t edit what you haven’t written.

Start with stream of consciousness writing: write down every thought.

This bridges the connection between your mind, fingers, keyboard, and document.

Don’t worry about whether or not it makes sense. It doesn’t matter if it’s relevant.

Sean’s writing prompts for the day:

  • What is one of your favorite things to do outside of work when you have free time?
  • What do you enjoy most about this activity?
  • Why have you not dedicated more time to this activity?
  • Do you think that’s a good excuse?
  • What do you propose to do differently or sacrifice so that you can spend more time doing the things you enjoy?

Day 3 Stats

  • Word Count: ~250
  • Comments: Wrote significantly less today BUT that’s because instead of stream of consciousness writing and/or following prompts, I decided I needed to get some rough outlines of my processes down. This is a very important task I’ve been putting off for some time.

Notes

Start your day with writing.

Plan your topic for tomorrow, the night before.

You won’t have to waste time trying to figure out what to write about.

Your brain will get started processing the topic.

Getting your writing done first thing means you’re coming off the charge of sleep.

Kind of like what Mark Twain (I think?) said about eating the biggest frog first.

This also reminds me of something Sean said a while back…what you do first in the day shows your priorities.

If you save writing as the last thing, you’re setting it as a low priority.

But this is 30 Days To Better Writing, so obviously we’re making writing the priority.

Sean recommends waking up early.

I don’t agree that is the key…as Tim Ferriss says in his book Tools of the Titans (BJ Novak chapter), “For lifelong night owls like me, it’s nice to know that when you get started each day seems to matter less than learning how to get started consistently, however your crazy ass can manage it.”

I have found that I do my best writing first thing in the day, and in an interruption-free setting.

It doesn’t matter if that’s at 6 AM or 9 AM, as long as it’s first and distraction free.

YMMV; it’s up to you to figure out what works best for you.

Sean was able to write millions of words in a year “with a daily commitment and a decision to maximize my output by writing at the most productive time.”

Don’t shortchange yourself by writing at a time where you write less!

Here’s my steps to figure out when you write better, adapted from Sean’s advice:

  1. Write whenever you want for 7 days straight.
  2. Log your output — time spent and words written.
  3. Commit to waking early for just one week.
  4. Write as the first thing you do in the morning.
  5. Log your output.
  6. Do the same for writing at various other times of the day.
  7. Compare your results.

Included writing prompts:

  • Write about how much you hate waking up early.
  • Write about your plan to start waking up early.
  • Write about the benefits you’ve seen from waking up early.

Overlap Book by Sean McCabe of seanwes.com

Overlap by Sean McCabe Review

9/10 will read again.

This book, plus Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins, are the two books I recommend anyone start with who are beginning to make a path of their own.

My only criticism of this book is that it’s lacking solid examples.

For example, in one chapter, Sean talks about making a list of 20 things we can do each day to get us closer to our goal.

Then he says to do one of them every day.

He doesn’t include any examples.

I’m left wondering,

  • Do I put them in step order?
  • Once I’ve done one, do I cross it off the list?
  • Can I put repeatable actions on the list?

I hope that in the next edition of this book he provides examples of actions he gives us to follow.

Overlap Notes by Chapter

These are not just “Cliff’s notes” style.

I include my own thoughts and examples of how I’m applying it to my life.

Get The Life You Want – Overlap by Sean McCabe Chapter 1

This book is made up of 5 sections and 26 chapters plus a conclusion chapter.

The first section is titled Find Your Passion.

The first chapter is titled Get The Life You Want.

Sean starts off the book telling us stories of his past jobs.

They’re pretty amusing, especially the one where he washes windows.

I will let you read them yourself.

But real quick…

He washed windows and played in a band.

He didn’t want to wash windows anymore, so when he needed money when he wasn’t touring, he started a computer repair business.

From there, he overlapped to web designer.

Then from web designer, he overlapped to becoming a hand-letterer.

He overlapped several other times to where he is now, which is teaching entrepreneurs and artists how to get started and achieve success through audience building .

Overlapping is when you work a day job to pay your bills and then spend your extra time working on another craft to make it your next full-time career.

That doesn’t mean that everything you do in your free time is overlapping.

A hobby is not necessarily something that you care to make a living from. Still, your overlap is when you are trying to turn that extracurricular activity into a full-time job.

Overlapping is a significant part of the No Alarms Club.

Most of us are in day jobs that we want to switch out of.

It doesn’t mean that we hate the day job, but we may just feel the need for a career change.

Or maybe you do hate your day job, and that’s why you’re reading this.

That’s okay, too.

We’re going to get you out of it.

The smart way to do this isn’t to suddenly quit our jobs and just try to make it work.

Some people believe that they will thrive when backed into a corner like that.

I’ve definitely been there multiple times and have been fine, but it’s just not worth the stress.

The smart way to leave a day job you don’t like is to overlap.

Sean talks about how great it feels to help people get out of a day job they hate.

He talks about how great it feels to help people realize a full-time income from pursuing their passion.

Helping people is what I want to do with the No Alarms Club.

Sean mentions that there are many people out there who teach people how to make money, but they only make their money by teaching people how to make money.

It’s kind of scummy, and I know what type of people he’s talking about.

Sean felt imposter syndrome despite having a pretty decent track record of being a successful hand-letter artist.

Not to mention all the other businesses he ran in the past that were successful.

It’s normal to feel this way.

You feel like despite having done what you’ve done, people will think you’re a fraud.

I feel this way too.

Right now, I’m overlapping from my day job working as Communications Director for a nonprofit.

But I have over a decade of experience in internet marketing and have run my own successful online businesses.

Plus I’ve helped many other online businesses achieve success through digital marketing.

Yet, I still feel like an imposter.

Sean points out that no matter what, there is no wrong first step.

Everything we’ve learned in the past and we’ll learn in the future will help us towards our goals.

Every step is a step forward.

And most importantly, when we overlap, that thing doesn’t have to be what we do forever.

In fact, it’s pretty unlikely that we will do anything for the rest of our lives.

We should never be afraid to overlap to the next thing.

I’m really excited to dig into the rest of this book.

Please go pick it up at overlapbook.com And follow along with me!

While I am reading the book and distilling my thoughts, insights, and sharing with you through the podcast and this notebook, you will get different ideas as you read it.

Then, you can compare them with mine and make yourself all the more successful.