As of today, I’ve been publishing on Substack for exactly three years now. In that time, I’ve learned some valuable lessons about how to publish consistently and (sometimes) write my best work.
I just told Alicia, “I’m reading Lyle!” If you have readers who look forward to Saturdays just to read your latest work (me, every Saturday!), you are definitely a capital W writer!
congrats on 3 years dude! you have been and continue to be one of my favorite writers on here you inspire me and make me laugh and also you're just v nice and kind and ok enough babble i'm gonna go cut off an arm so i have more to write about
It really is a matter of just putting in the work. Once I stopped thinking I was going to be famous overnight like Justin Bieber and started thinking of writing as just a job, I actually started making money.
Thanks for this Lyle. I love that book by Augusten Burroughs. One thing he said that has always stuck with me (sorry, it's completely unrelated to writing but very related to the human experience) is that when a person is sick or old their world shrinks. Ahead of time you think you won't be able to survive not being able to...do the thing...but when the time comes your world has shrunk so much you don't notice because you're busy living a full life in one little room. This was when his partner was very sick and I think it was in Running With Scissors, which is his mind blowing memoir. Highly recommend that read.
Anyway, thank you for your milestone post. Congrats on three great years and continuing to keep it real for us.
Congrats on three years, Lyle! These are great tips! Also, you are a writer. You don’t need anyone, including me to tell you that, but I know sometimes we need to hear it. So there you go, writer, now keep going!
“Even when we lose an arm or a leg, there's not less of us but more. Human experience weighs more than human tissue.”
Love this. I was hit by a drunk driver and lost my sense of smell, however I gained so much in the experience both at the time and over time since.
Thank you for this freeing article.
PS I have published one of my own books and collaborated on a second, yet I still have a hard time with saying I’m a writer. Usually I mock myself and say “I’m a published author, don’t you know?!” And then laugh.
This is absolutely BRILLIANT. Your points are so true, valuable and helpful. Just restacked. I’ve been writing on SS for a year and I find all of what you wrote very true. Good stuff, Lyle 👍👍👍
God I know this one well - when it feels like a chore I know it will be boring for the reader and I’m telling the wrong part of the story or at least in the wrong way
Congratulations on year 3! And thank you for sharing your knowledge, expertise, and great choice of quotes.
Thanks for writing this! I’ve been working on overcoming my struggles with Resistance (it sits at the desk and visits so frequently it gets to be a proper noun, we’re on first-name terms) and wrote about it recently: https://bessstillman.substack.com/p/on-writing-or-not?utm_source=profile&utm_medium=reader2
It’s helpful when other writers are transparent with their process, too. Enjoyed the read!
Great reminder piece
Ok preface: I told you I had thoughts!
1. I often mull over the fact that as writers in this space, we think of it like our 9-5s meet Entertainment Industry: gotta stick to the schedule, churn and burn, inspiration be damned. But what about the folks who DO get off-seasons to concentrate and refine their Notes app ideas? Why can’t we get an off season? What if the dip is merely a sign that batteries need a recharge? Nope, we just push ourselves through it like good little American worker bees.
2a. I’d love to read a piece titled “Am I Weird Enough?” (Subtitled: “Or is weird just the new normal?”)
2b. I stan for Augusten Burroughs!! My favorites are Lust & Wonder and Toil & Trouble, which unlocked my inner esoteric and lead me to my love of Tarot et al.
2c. I haven’t read Rick Rubin’s book yet, but Elizabeth Gilbert talks about the exact same theory in Big Magic and it hasn’t left me since. But after she writes about this theory, she adds, “You can dare to be pleased sometimes with what you have created. (And if a project doesn't work out, you can always think of it as having been a worthwhile and constructive experiment.) You can resist the seductions of grandiosity, blame, and shame. You can support other people in their creative efforts, acknowledging the truth that there's plenty of room for everyone. You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures.” (Posturing that, if an idea leaves you, that’s ok too. It’s more about the dance you share together, however short or lengthy.)
3. No kidding about the unsubs! Folks will sign up at our art shows and the first time I send them an email they’re out and I’m like, whyyy toy with my emotions like that?!
4. “Writer” is an active noun to me. “Published author” is cool and all but a past tense noun that’s got an expiration date. One can’t sit on those laurels forever! Own your cap W Writer status!
5. Happy three years, Lyle!!
Great read thank you
Loved everything about this post. But this:
“If you write on Substack or a similar type of platform, turn off notification emails for when people unsubscribe.”
This has probably saved my life. I can’t stress enough what a good tip this is!
Thank you for writing consistently, for your honesty about your experience, and just for being here. I’m glad I met you, Lyle.
I thought I had written something and finally found it today.
As I looked back on 2020, it was hard, yet humbling. I write myself notes on my phone. Notes with grocery lists, quotes, notes I’ll never send, those types of things. I opened my notes and saw some sad things, but I also saw so much more. I have saved notes all the way back to 2018! I know, I need to hit delete. I’m glad I hadn’t deleted them. I needed to remind myself.
We all think of what we are grateful for during the month of November each and every year. Now I see that I need to do that more often. I need to love myself more and give myself more credit. Looking at my notes, it forced me to do just that. One note I constantly wrote “What is my purpose”? Now maybe I’ll find out. My notes showed me dark places and showed growth as well.
A couple of things that stood out. I’ve had, and still do have some hate in my heart. I think that is something I have to continually work on.
“Hatred corrodes the container it’s carried in.” George HW Bush
I think that is a very powerful quote. I don’t want to walk around looking like I need to be cleaned. I have the control to clean the hate out myself. I have done this and grown in many ways. For that I am thankful. I still have plenty of room for growth.
I think acknowledging your faults is always a good experience. No one is perfect, yet some think they are. Sometimes it’s not as easy to acknowledge the good we have in our heart. By doing this, it’s selfish, and I’m a selfless person. It proves that we need to be selfish at times for our own well-being.
I have touched and inspired so many just this year alone. For that I am proud of myself and thankful. Inspiring people can happen anywhere. During both of my hospital visits this year, I was able to be an inspiration. I was mad that I was in the hospital, and wanted to hate every person that approached me. That is not easy to keep those hateful thoughts when you see young workers doing a great job. What these young girls didn’t realize is their smile is what inspired me to inspire them. As they cleaned my room, we always talked. Then came the visits. They came to talk to me, even when they were off work. Just one simple thing, like a smile, changed me in that moment, and them as well.
We are never fully done with ourselves. There is always room to grow and improve, which is something I always said to the recovering addicts I worked with. Looking back at my notes, there were several notes to this group. They needed to be worked on, but so did I. I asked them to always write down their feelings in my class. By telling them this, it also inspired me to write all of these notes. One of my notes was funny, but made them and me stop and think. I think back and wonder where I came up with some of my lesson plans.
My overall point to them also made me stop and think too. I said, “Have you ever had an ingrown toenail? It hurts so bad! And controlled how you walked and thought, because it was all you thought about due to the pain. When you were using you were an ingrown person. You hurt, had no control of your actions or thoughts. Just like this toenail”. I really must have thought hard on this lesson. I had forgotten about it, and when I saw it I laughed. While it was funny, it was also helpful. I realize that I have also been somewhat of an ingrown person. I’ve allowed my health to control me and my thoughts.
I refuse to be ingrown or corroded! I am thankful for all of these young ladies and men. They were able to make me dig deep down to realize that I am worth loving. Loving myself, like I love others. its something I’m better at now because of my effort and their inspiration.
Hi Lyle! Congratulations on your 3 year Substack anniversary! I’m always very glad to read your masterpieces on weekends! And I say masterpieces because you are a Writer indeed! With capital W! I also struggle a lot to say I’m a writer...and I write poems..so it’s even harder to say “I’m a poet” especially because I’m in the process of learning to write poems, I haven’t published a book...yet and my newsletter is just 4 months old! But writing my newsletter has been the most liberating and committing action towards my writing I have ever done: my poems have somewhere to live here in Substack, and the internet. Now my writing exists, it’s tangible as a newsletter. And it has subscribers! A few of them have unsubscribed...(thanks for the tip about the notification settings. I will no longer know who unsuscribes!) In a few words: your newsletter (and @jackelinesuskind’s) has inspired me to publish mine. Thank you for writing and for keeping the pace of the weekly frequency!