A less analytical piece today. I have several pieces in the work, so we will get back to ‘Data Data Data’ soon, but this hopefully will answer the question: why does this blog even exist?
Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in the inaugural OnDeck Writer Fellowship (fellow writers, I highly recommend that you apply). I am also a part of the wonderful Compound Community (also highly recommend that you apply).
I had the opportunity to talk on Erik Torenberg’s Podcast Venture Stories alongside Max Nussenbaum and Jake Singer about our experiences writing online.
The last 2 months have brought a range of emotions into my life. As I reflected on my time spent in OnDeck, and my time writing, I wanted to share some thoughts.
I am approaching my 4 year anniversary (December 31st) in this online home known as kylascanlon.com
I have had the opportunity to grow and learn and listen, and the takeaways have been numerous and powerful. This piece is going to talk about my personal writing journey and how you can begin your own writing journey (with little anecdotes from me sprinkled in).
My Writing Story
I was incredibly shy when I was younger, so I wrote as a way to communicate to the world.
I wrote books. One was called ‘The Little Penguin’. I read it to my 3rd grade class. I remember climbing up into the chair, gripping onto the steel on the sides. I opened my book, which was composed of construction paper and notebook sheets, and read. I made different voices for the different characters, and spoke aloud to a big class for one of the first times ever. I was sharing my creation with my classmates. All the fear that I normally felt when speaking was gone – it was just me and the words that I had written.
The Little Penguin was a combination thriller/mystery novel, with Little Penguin on search for his friend, Little Seal. Navigating the seas alone, Little Penguin faced tremendous obstacles and challenges, yet he prevailed.
And that’s life, right?
We go in search of something, we face challenges, but all the while, we persevere. Writing is the art of that perseverance. Writing was how I connected with the world from a very young age, and kept me going when things were not easy.
I’ve been writing online since I was 19, when Scanlon on Stocks (the predecessor to kylascanlon.com) was a newbie ‘options trader’ blog trying to figure out terminology and trading.
My online writing was an effort to find community, to find other traders and people who wanted to talk about finance (none of my friends were too interested in talking about delta and gamma with me). Writing was one way to reach out to people around the world (many of whom I am now very good friends with).
Writing is about expression, exploration, and creation. For me, ideas will take up a lot of space, and writing was one way to free myself from their constant nudges and prods. I had to write.
Writing gives me the space to test ideas and find my voice, which is difficult to do. I struggle with severe imposter syndrome and question myself constantly. I don’t think I am overly brave, I’m not spontaneous, I prefer routine and consistency over change – but writing allows me to try new things, to test limits, to change my own patterns. It allows me to challenge my own frameworks and ways of thinking. Each week I write about something different, and I get challenged in comments or emails. These challenges allow me to grow.
This online real estate is a space for me to do fun pieces like Pizza Math or deeper pieces like Kentucky’s Dilemma. I find something I am curious about, and explore it. I share it in the hopes that others will find it interesting or thought provoking, in that way, I can continuously build connections and bridges. Rinse and repeat.
Thank you for reading and for being on this journey with me. I am so grateful that you choose my writing and give me a bit of your time.
Writing is a gift. Below are some thoughts on how you can do it, too.
How To Begin Your Story
“Everything that is possible demands to exist” – Gottfried Leibniz
Pen to Paper: The most important thing is to just write. Write about how the color of the walls, if you need to. Don’t judge the thoughts that come out at first. Just let them be. If you want to publish online, both WordPress and Substack have low barriers to entry.
Give Yourself Time: Somedays, writing is the hardest thing to do. I don’t share most of the things I write, because my blog has evolved into a more analytical, data-heavy blog. But I have pages and pages of thoughts that never see the light of day – and that’s okay.
Give Space to Thoughts: A lot of people have similar baby writer stories. I have noticed that many people will begin writing when something happens, a big event or a big thought. They simply give those thoughts the space to exist. They started writing because something got stuck in their head, they realized they wanted to share this stuck idea with people, and have deep and meaningful conversations.
Share Your Thoughts: We are all in search of some form of community and connection. These online groups provide that, introducing us to people who think similarly and differently. This is a catalyst for growth. The people in OnDeck and Compound specifically want your whole self. They don’t want someone who has a veil over their ideas or constantly hedges against their own thoughts in the piece (I am notorious for this). The freedom to exist as a writer in a space that wants you to grow is an incredible gift.
Give it Forward: Writing is a way of translating our gifts for the world. Writing is taking what we’ve learned from others and from our own self-reflections and building it into something that other people can learn and self-reflect on. It’s a loop of growth.
Work With Others: Reach out to other writers. I’ve learned so much from working closely with so many good writers (just to name a fraction, Lea, Tom, and Grant; the list is quite long). You can borrow their frameworks and processes and weave them into your own. My own style is wildly inefficient, and I’ve ironed out kinks in my process that have been bugging me for years, just from working with others.
Learn From Others: I’ve met people from all over the world while in these programs. I’ve had conversations on the future of education, the boat market, the concept of death, the reality of our time theory, and so much more. It is tremendous.
Again, Pen to Paper: In the most basic of terms, just write. More complexly, write with others, write with conviction, write often, and write about everything.
How to Continue Your Story
“And when you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you” – Friedrich Nietzsche
Listen: Be open to feedback. We grow when we are open, we grow when we allow ourselves the opportunities to do so. Don’t get stuck in a rut.
Openness: Keep an open heart. Keep your eyes open for other writers. Read their pieces. Edit their pieces, if you have the chance. I have learned more about writing from editing other’s pieces than I have from writing my own.
Trust Yourself: Keep yourself centered. Turns out, self-doubt can creep between the words we speak and write. Confidence carries itself within the sentences of our pieces, and can make the difference between impact and garbage. Believe in yourself. Believe that you deserve to write.
Read a Lot, but Think Even More: Reading other people’s work is the best thing that you can do. It helps orient you to their structure, their processes, their framework – all of which you can translate to your own work. When you read, think about your own writing. What do these words mean to you, what does the path mean to you, and how does it all tie together?
How to Grow Your Story
“The world is, of course, nothing but our conception of it” – Anton Chekhov
Humanness: I think that communities are the most beautiful part of being a human. The idea that we can connect with our fellow people so deeply, on a variety of topics, is so special. OnDeck and Compound both served as an anchor for me. I didn’t feel like a star orbiting in a distant galaxy; rather I felt like a planet, lined up with others, in a phenomenal solar system.
Anecdote: I remember ending one of our writing workshops in OnDeck. I had gotten feedback on a piece that I had written about Kentucky, my home state. As some of you know, I moved to Los Angeles a year and a half ago all by myself, and the journey has been ~interesting~ to say the least. I had written something personal, but the group encouraged me to get even more personal. I had people reach out and tell me that they loved the piece, that I deserved to take up space, that my voice needed to be heard. And it was a moment I will never forget – feeling so supported, so surrounded by care. It was powerful in carrying me when I needed it most, and encouraged me to speak, even when it might be difficult.
Sharing is Power: When we give power to our voice, and others carry us along, that translates into something meaningful and special. We are social creatures, and we should give ourselves the gift of being with our fellow Humans as much as possible.
A String of Adjectives: We crave community in an increasingly polarized and disconnected world. Connection. Care. Thoughts. Sharing. Vulnerability. It’s all something that I’ve experienced over the past few months, and will continue to seek out. These groups, and most importantly, writing online, have been so influential in shaping how I go about my life. We are only here for a short amount of time, why not connect with the people we share our marble Earth with?
If you have any questions about beginning your own writing journey, please reach out. I am always happy to chat.
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