How I got into coworking 2008 – 2020 – The Prequel
So there I was thinking what on earth will I do in the next 90 Day Content Challenge?
I’ll write about my last ten, maybe twelve years of coworking, a chapter every week – how hard can that be?
I’ll write the intro in this post here as I’m still dumping ideas in One Note and Mind Meister.
Then I’ll buy some time to get my shit together for week two.
I’m surprisingly confident about my 12 Week, or 90 Day plan.
If you have just joined us
Sorry if you just joined us!
Let me explain three times a year I enter a challenge to post content on my website.
Known as The 90 Day Content Marketing Challenge, and every time I find more writer in me.
Honestly, it’s easier to sandpaper my face and drop me in acid every week than take part in this, but I love writing, and I’m determined to outrun my fears to build my confidence.
My abrupt ending in 2020
This time last year, I was writing to sell my consulting and workshops from my website.
When suddenly my 20-year rollercoaster career as a die-hard freelancer came to an abrupt end.
I became the COO of a startup and the CMO of another one; we have another product called Cowork.tools.
As you might have guessed they are all the same founders and team.
Our marketing team consists of freelancers, some of whom are in this challenge with me, working on coworking and freelancer events and content together.
So my website needed to transition to something else, and it felt good to work that out in the next 90 Day Content Challenge.
I made a plan this time.
Any of you who have been reading here before will know I’m always ranting about 12-week plans.
If you are like me, you are great at helping other people but atrocious at doing that thing for your own business.
This challenge I had to go somewhere new because one of my big goals is to improve my writing and storytelling significantly.
For years I’ve liked the idea of writing a series of posts, like a weekly story in a comic or newspaper.
Deep down, I’ve always known that planning my writing would make it more straightforward, more manageable and even more enjoyable.
Books on Writing
In 2020 I read a lot of books on writing or building a writing life like:
Robert A Caro: Working
I’m blown away by how Robert researches and constructs his books.
He describes his process for the biographies of United States political figures Robert Moses and Lyndon B. Johnson.
His writing and storytelling abilities are enchanting, both in this book and the biographies.
Maya Angelou: I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
I first read this book at college; it was probably one of the first books by a black author I ever read.
Her descriptions of lemon juice and the church in the opening chapters have never left me.
I always think Maya lived the life she did because she had to write these books. That is why it is on this list.
Michael Margolis: Story 10x: Turn the Impossible into the Inevitable
Michael was one of the first people I met who made sense of ‘exploring our own story’ to find our purpose.
I’m still working it out, but this book threw me in the direction I’m taking on this next 90 Day Content Challenge.
Anne Lamott: Word by Word
“Let’s start writing now while we still can” is one of the opening lines in this hilarious recording of a two-hour writing class from 1997.
Anne talks about battling the voices in our head that tell us we are not a reasonable observer of the world.
Stephen King: On Writing
Amazingly this is the first Stephen King book I’ve ever read, other than watching a few movies; I knew very little about him.
“Read and write four to six hours a day. If you cannot find the time for that, you can’t expect to become a good writer.”
One big take away was how he lets ideas connect in his head.
He describes working at a school as a cleaner when he got the pictures that pulled Carrie together.
Rachel Aaron 2k to 10k
Every few years, I go back to this book.
In short, Rachel describes how her writing time changed after she became a mother.
Rachel had to work out how to keep her word count up now she had less time at the keyboard.
Haruki Murakami: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
I’m still reading this, and it has made a deep impression on me.
Maybe only because I’d like to be 70 years old and running and writing Haruki does.
I’ve read business books for the last fifteen years, I love them, but I need something a little deeper.
I listened to these writing books as I ran, cooked or hoovered – never once did I think ‘I can’t write.’
I’ve been thinking about this for years.
It is worth pointing out I did not ‘suddenly’ have this idea; it has been kicking around in my head for years.
Every time I write a post with a bit of history or story, I get lost in the flow.
The effect of COVID, lockdown and everything that happened in 2020 was a head fuck.
I’ve always wanted to write, like write – write.
There has never been a time in my life when I’ve not been thinking about it.
And even writing that sentence here feels harder than saying to my parents:
“I met a man in Paris, and we’re getting married!”
And when I’m in Paris, every coffee place looks like somewhere to write, not a place to get a drink.
Playing at it
Going from ‘die-hard freelancer’ to ‘I have a job’ gave me a different kind of headspace.
I wrote about the mental effect last week in this post:
‘Why you need a new mindset for 2021‘ and I felt better for sorting that out on the page.
So much change happened in one go I got whiplash and even doubted if I was doing the right thing.
It was not like anyone is forcing me to take the job; most of our team worked together anyway.
A lot of mental clutter evaporated, and it occurred to me that in all the previous ’90 Day Content Challenge’s’ I’d been ‘playing at it.’
Allowing myself to ‘only just make it’ to deliver the self-absorbed thrill of writing a killer (ish) post and submitting it minutes before the weekly deadline.
How I got into coworking
All of these products have emerged from conversations and problems that people in our community have.
At the start of January, I had a massive brain fog about what to stick on the internet every week and when I got the guts to commit to this project and the pain and jubilation that will come with it I felt good to go.