Lessons from a year of writing weekly email newsletters
Advice from traveling, social media marketing, and starting a weekly newsletter, growing up queer and Asian, falling apart tech, holiday feasts in Asia and just keep going
|Steven Wakabayashi||Dec 23, 2019|| 1|
Becoming a content creator has been quite an adventure this year. For almost eight months of this year, I tried to be “that influencer”. I traveled the world, taking beautiful photos of myself in exotic destinations, perfectly curated in an Instagram timeline (you can scroll through my feed and see).
Although I enjoyed shooting photos, the manufacturing an image of myself based on the tips and tricks I read on social media marketing felt extremely hollow. But as I posted content on my Instagram, my captions started to get longer and longer to express myself.
Earlier this year, I created my newsletter, Mindful Moments, to keep my close friends and colleagues updated on my travels. Every week, I shared photos and thoughts to my small community.
The more I wrote, the more I found pleasure in the craft. Writing could not have been more of the antithesis of what I represented. I am a designer by trade and was also trying to break into the visual world of Instagram.
And this enjoyment came as a huge surprise, especially as someone who has struggled with English all of my life. I scored poorly on all standardized English tests growing up, failed out of my first English class in college, and learned English as my third language.
"I can’t like this, because I wasn’t smart enough to.”
I had never realized that Roman letters would be so therapeutic for me.
And out of all of my content produced this year, my writing has been the most consistent content. Though I explored photos, videos, and audio throughout this year I’ve been able to write and publish every single week. This issue marks the 51st issue/week of my newsletter of 2019.
With that said, if I were to go back to the beginning of this year and give myself some advice, here are some things I would tell myself on writing and creating content:
It’s too easy to be critical of myself when the rest of the world will do so already. Perfection doesn’t exist. It’s just a point of view. Whether people like it or not depends on many factors outside of my control.
If the writing brings value to my life, it’s something worth exploring. And if it helps people in the process, then it’s something definitely worth pursuing.
Perfectionism is a distraction from the bigger goal
Perfectionism is often a way of avoiding judgment. Especially when I am writing about my deepest thoughts and creating my most heartfelt content, it is natural to shy away from having such intimate content being judged.
Embrace the truth that people will have their unwavering opinions. Perfection will not change those unwilling to embrace in the first place.
Love the work first before expecting others to do so.
Have more faith
As much as I can try to manufacture something quickly, hard work and perseverance build the foundation for future success. I could not predict when my Queer Eye Japan article would blow up, but when it did, I had created so many other things (podcast, videos, and articles on queer Asian perspectives) that its success was almost inevitable.
Trust in the process.
Trust in time.
Trust in me.
Move on and let go
On the days I just can’t get myself to produce content, or facing writer’s block, just let it go and move on. Stop focusing on the days I didn’t produce content and focus more on the future than to create or write something new.
Don’t let yesterday be the shackle of today and tomorrow’s progress.
Focus on my own lane
It is too easy to compare myself to others, especially in writing. There will always be someone better, more popular, and more prolific than me. For some of the bigger writers and content producers, there is often an entire team staffed full-time to the work.
Focus on being the best me that I can be. Stop chasing after others. Instead, start running after my own dreams.
As I explore this evolution of myself, I am looking forward to what’s to come in 2020.
Do you have any interesting revelations from this year?
PS - Announcement! The next Yellow Glitter Sparkles gaysian support group session will be on January 12, 2020. If you are a gaysian in NYC - please come by! This event is free to attend, but spaces are limited. RSVP to secure a spot.
Growing up queer and Asian
I just recently published an article with Queerty on growing up gay and Asian and never feeling “good enough”. This is my first publication with a major LGBTQ digital publication and it feels so freaking amazing!
Tech is falling apart
As we create advancements in technology, we have lagging advancements in ethics and mindfulness, as captured in this NY Times interactive post, highlighting flaws in technology over the past 10 years.
Holiday feasts in Asia
VICE did an interesting photo article capturing different Asian cultures and their feasts during the holidays. It also talks about a really interesting tradition in Japan: KFC for Christmas. (yes, it’s true!)
Just keep going
“Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final.”
-Rainer Maria Rilke
As always, thanks for reading!
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Have a beautiful day!