Though I haven’t always stuck to the topic exclusively, I started out blogging about self-help / personal development and that has formed the basis of my my writing.

Writing self-help isn’t easy. To start with I was consumed by insecurity about my writing. Due to my particular sort of rather brazen or stubborn personality, this didn’t stop me writing; however, I did kind of cover up my insecurity by acting too confident in the advice I was giving. Despite my innate dislike of guru-types, I found myself becoming a kind of guru myself.

In time, I’ve learnt to be very, very honest about where I’m coming from. When I’m writing a piece of advice, I work out whether it comes from my experience, stuff I’ve read, intuition, or any mixture of these things. Then, I usually work that information into my writing, so my readers know exactly how much to trust a certain piece of information.

When writing from experience, I prefer to recount my experience directly when possible, so that others can learn from those things which once served to teach me. It’s the best way of avoiding guru-speak. I also find it makes my writing rather more engaging.

When I’m recounting stuff I’ve read, I generally try to give sources when possible or at least say things like “I read this once on the internet, I don’t know where, but…”. I try to give people an impression of my fallibility as a source. Compare “This is how it is,” to “This is what I read and I think it’s probably true.”

And then there is writing from intuition. This is the trickiest.

I believe that we have a vast source of guidance inside of us, and that we can tap into this for our writing. Sometimes, in fact, I find that my inner guidance seems wiser than my real-life self.

It is rather weird to “talk the talk but not walk the walk” as they say. Again, all I can really do is to let people know where I’m coming from. “Though I base this on nothing but my intuition, I feel that things are this way”, or, “Even though I struggle to live this this myself, I sense that things are that way”. Even just starting sentences with “I think” or “I believe” helps, removing the impression of objective factuality.

The funny thing is, that when I write stuff that is a little beyond my everyday level of wisdom, I often find myself learning from it as I write it. Writing advice can be a way of growing; the advice can be a reminder of what you already know but don’t always live, or it can even be something that is somehow new for you as well as for your readers. Writing can be a way of getting all your latent thoughts and ideas to click together into a coherent whole, revealing new insights in the process.

You need to learn the difference between tapping into a deeper level of wisdom and just writing bullshit, though. Particularly in my insecure early days, I wrote a lot of stuff which just sounded nice but which wasn’t really coming from my authentic wisdom; filler, or worse, misleading stuff written with too much confidence. I guess the way I improved on that was to become more secure that I did have a message to give that was valuable to others, and that I didn’t have to overinflate my authority to be worthwhile.

And I do think that you don’t need to be a super mega guru genius to be able to give advice. I think all you need to do is to think about and work on the sort of things you’re encouraging other people to think about and work on. Then, you can share the things you discover on your own process. I think that’s the most natural, organic way of writing, in fact, because when you discover something you’re naturally inclined to share your discovery, and sharing it can be a good way of consolidating it.

I often share things just as I have discovered them. This could be new perspectives, or new ways of dealing with certain problems. The great thing about doing this is that I usually have a surge of enthusiasm about an idea when it first comes to me, and it’s easy to write about it when it’s fresh in my mind. The problem with this is that sometimes I have a great idea which later turns out not to make sense when I’ve spent a while putting it into practice.

For a while I thought I just shouldn’t share ideas when they were this new, preferring to wait until I had some real experience with them to back up the theoretical part. Now, I often choose to take advantage of the surge of enthusiasm I get when the idea first arrives in my head and write about it, but I usually tell people as I do so that the idea is new and that things might change as I later put them into practice.

So, overall, I think you can improve your self-help writing by being as “real” as possible. It keeps your writing honest and authentic, and by telling people where you’re coming from with the advice you give, you give them some idea of how much to trust you. We’re programmed since a young age to trust people who position themselves as authorities, so I think that if we voluntarily step down from our authority pedestal we can help people as they liberate themselves from this form of mental prison.

Sometimes I look back at my old writing and I no longer necessarily agree with what I wrote. I have in the past edited or deleted a lot of those articles, though mostly only the ones where I wrote with an overinflated sense of authority. Hopefully, in the articles where I write with more humbleness and honesty, it will be easier for people to come to their own opinions about what I write rather than succumbing to the programming that induces them to trust those who are positioned as authority figures. That way, I can feel okay even when I think my old opinions are wrong, or when I consider how my current opinions might later turn out to be wrong.

Most of all, don’t give up writing self-help if that is what you are drawn to do. “Guru-syndrome” can be cured, and like most things, you get better the more you practice. And yes, you do have advice people would want to hear. How do I know that? Because you are a person.



Changing My Tagline And Ending Self Sabotage


What Trying To Write 10,000 Articles Taught Me About Motivation

September 14, 2014

In this article I’m going to explain how I learnt a new way of motivating myself to work on my self-directed projects. To start with though, I’m going to set the stage by telling you a little story about how I got to where I am now. Hang in there, I’ll get to the point […]

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Language Justice And Esperanto

August 31, 2014

Despite believing in Esperanto, I’ve hesitated to be an Esperanto activist so far. This is probably because I have other social justice topics I consider more important, such as trans issues and feminism. When large numbers of your trans friends have attempted suicide, and large numbers of your female* friends have been raped, language justice […]

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How Proteining Is Used To Dominate Conversations

August 24, 2014

I recently had the pleasure of talking about Esperanto with a fellow vegan. As soon as I mentioned Esperanto, he started off on the offensive. “But hardly anyone speaks Esperanto right? It’s not useful for anything.” Seeing where this was going, I said teasingly, “But where do you get your protein??” “I think Esperanto can’t […]

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The Intersection Between Social Justice And Personal Development

August 23, 2014

This website started out as a Steve Pavlina clone, and as such, a personal development blog. However, unlike many clones, it survived long enough for me to find my own personal style. I alternately define this blog as “stuff for conscious people” and “whatever I feel like writing about”. The second description is probably the […]

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Why I Find It Hard To Relate To Men

August 20, 2014

I find it rather hard to relate to cis men. (Cis means non-trans; I can relate rather well to many trans men, for reasons that might become clearer as you read on). The main reason for this is that I am very much aligned with a feminist worldview. (By feminist, I mean anti-sexist. If you […]

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Apparently My Body Traumatises People

August 18, 2014

In my “trying to be a real man” phase, I got into the obscure genre of “fratire” books, where men’s rights activists mix humour with oppressive and tragically limited performances of masculinity. One book was “I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell” by Tucker Max. OK, the dude writes well, and I suppose I could […]

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How Do You Define A Partner? Polyamory And The Blurred Lines Between Partners And Non-Partners

August 18, 2014

It’s a common observation that when you’re polyamorous or otherwise non-monogamous, the lines become blurred between friends and more-than-friends. I personally have a lot of people in my life that wouldn’t quite fit into the mono-normative definition of “just friends”. However, not all of them are exactly partners either. They seem to fit on a […]

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What Being Trans Taught Me About Sexism

August 14, 2014

Trigger warning for this post: descriptions of sexual harassment, mention of rape. There’s another trigger warning later so you can skip the description of sexual harassment if you want. — More than two years ago now, I wrote the blog post which started me off on a gender transition that would turn out to consume […]

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Gender Transition Updates For Summer 2014

August 11, 2014

Time marches on, and my gender transition advances. (Comic from My perspective slowly shifts as I mature as a trans person. I’ve gone through a pleasantly oblivious phase, then a horrified phase where I slowly came to terms with just HOW much I was oppressed as a trans person, and now I’m trying to […]

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Looking At People Who Do Harm From A Social Justice Lens

August 8, 2014

I think it’s interesting if we look at people who do harm from a social justice lens. We could call the oppression “niceism”, the way people who do harm are oppressed and people who don’t do harm are privileged. If you think about it, it’s absolutely standard for people to use niceist slurs. “Asshole”, “Bastard”, […]

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The Lessons I’ve Learnt From Depression, Now That It’s Over

July 29, 2014

Three or four weeks ago I stopped being depressed. So far, I’ve stayed un-depressed. I have to admit I feel really uncomfortable announcing it like this, because somehow I feel like I have the obligation to stay un-depressed now, and if I relapse I’ll be letting everyone down. But I’ll try to ignore those irrational […]

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Practical Exercises To Overcome Sexism

July 27, 2014

My friend Laura came up with a great idea which I am proud to be stealing for this post. She suggested that we should make a list of things which (cis) men can do to overcome sexism. After all, no matter how much you read, and how much you think, it can be hard to […]

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