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How Running A Startup Screwed Up My Writing Routine

I cannot write at my desk anymore, so what do I do instead?

When I first started working on a laptop, what I would mainly do was, well, write. I would write for myself and my own leisure, or I would write for magazines I was “working” for (the inverted commas feel only fair since I would not get paid for that).

Nevertheless, writing at my desk was my safe place. My mind associated my desk and the laptop screen with writing software and hours of focused work.

Then I started working as a freelance social media manager, and my “desk time” started to get a bit cramped. The writing process was competing with Buffering, scheduling and crafting visual content.

A few years later, I left my full-time job (hooray, I hear you say) and started consulting and the needle progressively leaned towards the admin side of the business. Or the marketing. Social media. 

Things got even hairier when I entered the world of startups. Let me be precise. I started running TWO startups. I found that writing became less of a pleasure and more of a chore.  On a similar note, I did feel that, as I turned into a CEO, my responsibilities were much more urgent than writing. This came from a belief that got ingrained in me in the early stages, which was, I never felt I could get a career as a writer.

As a writer first, and a journalist second, I was told that:

  • paid journalism does not equal a sustainable career
  • the market is so saturated you have to work for free for years before landing a paying gig
  • making a sustainable income from being an author is nearly impossible

…and the list goes on.

These are the conversations I have been having for the last 10-odd years – no surprise I reluctantly swapped my writing al desko for my business time. Slowly but surely, I would just sit at my desk and feel instantly so overwhelmed I could NOT find the headspace to write. Even writing my first book became an absolute odyssey, so much so that I completely jeopardised the whole writing process for it. 

Truth be told, falling out of love with writing taught me more about myself than most things that happened to me

Fab Giovanetti

All right Fab, is there a happy ending to this? In a rather peculiar twist of faith, the businesses that affected my writing became what got me back in touch with my muse. I started looking at PR and media as a way to get more brand awareness. There are two main ways you can gain more traction with your PR. You either get featured or just get on writing. 

Hey, wait a second, I know how to write damn good content!

I got back to the blank page at “my desko”, and that’s when the writer’s block impeded on me. 

Am I not able to write anymore? Do I not have what it takes? Did the book really suck the joy out of writing?

The first five months were tough. I would miss deadlines, struggle to stick to a schedule, write about stuff I sincerely could not give two peanuts about.

I started to question, Was my desk the problem? Was I working in an environment that was just not helping me get focused?

As a Tony Robbins disciple, I know a thing or two about associations. I was subconsciously associating my desk with getting shit done time. It was the time to tick tasks off, reply to emails (and all of the usual business shenanigans). 

It is everything but a focused time for me. In order to be more productive and truly accomplish projects in our zone of genius, we need to be focused. This is also the reason why, when we do what we love we are more focused on the task at hand.

I needed to find a space that allowed me to just write. 10,000 steps later, tired thumbs and a good dose of sunscreen and I was back at it, smashing thousands of words out on my phone per day. 

I started finding new ways to write: writing on the go, dictating articles, or writing from a new location. I needed to find something that could propel me to get things done, and accountability is one of the key reasons why we stick to a goal over another. I needed to create a new set of habits to get me back on the saddle.

As a literature student, I have a very specific vision of what a writer looks like. Yet, most writers nowadays are marketers, business owners, side hustlers.

Whatever is your source of focus, just go with it. If you need to switch up your routine, go for it. Create the prime environment for you to be focused, whatever that may be and get on with it. You’ll be surprised by the results.

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