January 16, 2013

Thich Nhat Hanh, Star Wars & How I Became the Third Most Read Writer on elephant journal.


In December, as an end of the year thank you, elephant journal offered $500 to anyone who blogged 10,000 views and $250 to anyone who blogged 5,000 views.

I actually didn’t find out that elephant journal was doing this promotion until a few days before it ended in December. To find out I was the third most read writer on elephant journal in the month of December was a complete shock to me as I’ve always felt like the very uncool kid at the elephant journal table. I don’t write about yoga, or sex, or a lot of the other articles here that get tons of views, but I also don’t write for views—so I was comfortable feeling like I was the weird skateboarder in the corner by himself back in high school.

Tara Lemieux: 10,532
Kate Bartolotta: 23,408
Chris Grosso: 20,676
Candice Holdorf: 10,703
Waylon Lewis: 62,324

So when fellow elephant writer Karl Saliter asked me a couple of questions for a piece he was working on called Top Earning Writers Tell All I was happy to oblige. As with any journalistic piece, a lot of what I provided him didn’t make the cut, but I felt for those of you interested in honing your craft here on ej, it may be worth it to provide you with the answers in their entirety.

I would like to reiterate that the number of views my articles received in December came a complete shock. I don’t think I’m a great writer by any means, but what Decembers numbers showed me, is that if you’re willing to become vulnerable and write from the heart, than you actually can be noticed without capitalizing on hot topic and kitschy shit. There are readers who are looking for something more and it’s with sincere humility and gratitude I thank them for taking the time to read the words I let fumble from my fingertips. With love.

What questions do you ask yourself before you hit “submit for review”?

Ha, well of course I do my mental checklist rundown of everything elephant asks for when posting, but I won’t bore readers with those details here. Otherwise, I do a brutally honest gut check with myself regarding what I’m about to post. I ask myself things like, Is it truly coming from the heart? Have I completely abandoned any care of possible negative feedback as a result of what I’ve written? And most importantly, Is what I’ve written without any doubt or question true to my own personal experience? If I’m able to answer yes to those questions then I’m ready to submit.

I’m very aware and grateful that through my writing (here and elsewhere) I’ve established a following and I know those who read my stuff take the words to heart. And with that recognition comes a responsibility to never hold anything back. For whatever reason, people actually listen to what I have to say so I can’t afford to get caught up in writing to play the numbers game (getting lots of views via catchy titles and empty topics etc) or to be the popular guy who writes kitschy shit. I have to come with complete honesty and integrity every time I write because I owe it to the person who takes the time to read what I’ve written.

I mean, I’m still a super playful kid at heart so once in a while I’ll post a random silly video I came across on Youtube or something, but there will be relevance to it, if for nothing more than the intention to bring a smile and laughter to someone’s face. That’s one of the most spiritually healing things we can do which is so often overlooked, to laugh.

What do readers who want to write need to know?

Honestly, the most valuable thing I’ve come to learn when writing is to just say fuck it. Throw complete abandon to the wind and fuck what anyone else thinks of what you have to say! I try to write as if no one was ever going to read it, which typically culminates in an experience as though there’s a fire burning in my heart that is going to suffocate me if I didn’t get the words out through my fingertips.

So yeah, fuck it. Just write. It doesn’t have to be beautiful or eloquent or any of that bullshit. If it’s from the heart, it’s perfect. I was scared to death to write at first, scared of sounding like an idiot, scared of being judged, scared that I had nothing of value to say, but that was just my ego having a field day with me.

If you want to be a worthwhile writer, be willing to get raw, vulnerable and authentic. Fuck writing for praise, acknowledgement or any other self gratifying reason… write because you have no other choice but to write! Write because it’s demanded of you by something far greater than your own self. Write as if you were on your deathbed and it was the last thing you’re going to leave this world with. I mean, you never know, right?


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Editor: Kate Bartolotta

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