Writing Across Languages: A Personal Journey of Growth and Resilience

The most important trait for writers is persistence

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You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence. ― Octavia E. Butler

My Early Writing Journey

The first time I posted my thoughts online was under a pen name. It was in the early 2000s.

I launched a successful blog in Hungarian.

I was disciplined. I had a schedule.

I immersed myself in the online community, forging friendships that have lasted to this day (OK, Insta-friends, but it still counts).

The Evolution of My Writing

Since I started this online writing journey, I had many different methods.

When I switched to writing in English, it was hard! It took me so much time to organize my thoughts in a way that was easy to understand.

It was overwhelming, time-consuming, and mainly disappointing because I wasn’t happy with my English progress.

Writing in English felt like torture, as agonizing and unbearable as having your tooth pulled out without the mercy of numbing injections. My struggles with the language made each word feel like a dental drill, turning what was so enjoyable in Hungarian into a painful ordeal in English.

No wonder why I couldn’t keep a schedule with my English blog. I wrote 7 articles in 2 years and got trolls criticizing my English, making me stop writing.

A few years passed, and I worked hard on my English. I started creating videos and launched my monthly newsletter for designers.

If I wrote every week, it would’ve been too frequent to show up in others’ inboxes, I thought. In all honesty, even a monthly newsletter was challenging for me.

There’s something about not being a native English speaker and lacking confidence in writing.

Even though I got an 8.5 score on my IELTS exam, I still couldn’t believe I had the right level of knowledge in English.

I eventually overcame these challenges by having private English tutors and accent coaches, making a couple of close friendships with native speakers, taking jobs outside of my comfort zone that forced me to write & present daily, reading extensively, and practising relentlessly.

Slowly, I felt more at home in the English language.

Reflections on Two Decades of Writing

Life has been a whirlwind of change and growth in the past two decades.

I got older, hopefully wiser, too.

I found a newfound confidence in my writing.

I finally stopped caring about what others think.

If you want to publish anything online and share your voice with the world, you must develop resilience and tough skin that withstand praise and criticism.

If no one reads you, no one gives you feedback. The more my words reached people, the more feedback I received — both the constructive kind and the inevitable trolls.

And you know what?

It was perfectly okay.

You can’t be chocolate; not everyone will like you and your writing.

Embracing this reality freed me to write with courage and genuineness.

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. — Nelson Mandela

The Unexpected Path to 2023

I didn’t know which road I’ll be taking in 2023.

I thought I would be a successful product design YouTuber by now, but it didn’t happen. Even though I did my very best, my channel just couldn’t attract the number of views that would monetize my channel, even though I have over 1.7K subscribers. Go figure.

From a small Eastern European village (actually, it’s Central Europe, geographically, but no one else refers to Hungary as Central Europe except the Hungarians) to the mega city of Toronto, it was a journey.

The YouTube experience, though less successful than I had hoped, taught me valuable lessons about audience, content creation, and resilience. This experience didn’t just teach me; it shaped me, infusing my writing path with adaptability and creativity.

My Writing Process and Challenges

Now, I publish multiple times every week.

Knowing myself, my schedule won’t stay like this forever, but I enjoy what I’m doing.

I found a way. I found my way.

Even though I don’t publish every day, I still write every day.

People say writing and publishing daily is easy if you write shorter essays. Some people are so clear with their thoughts that they can just write, edit, and hit publish. However, this doesn’t work for me.

Not even James Clear published every day when he was writing his newsletter.

So why would I aim for it?

Just because Eve Arnold publishes daily doesn’t mean I need to do the same.

We are different people.

They don’t live my life; I don’t live their lives.

A daily publishing schedule doesn’t work because I need to distance myself from my draft.

As Ann Handley calls it, ‘the ugly first draft’ is super easy to produce. I can do it in an hour. However, editing…editing takes 5–7 hours. Finding supporting evidence to back up my theory takes time. I usually simmer over words.

Is this how a native speaker would say it?

When I want to use an idiom to express that you can’t have everything you want or not everything in life comes easily, I can’t just say, ‘The fence is not made of sausage.’, as we say in Hungarian.

I have to use expressions like ‘You can’t have your cake and eat it too’ or ‘Life’s not a bed of roses’ to convey a similar sentiment.

These things don’t come easy. No one teaches this in school. No one speaks to me like that to acquire such knowledge.

I have my method now

I built my writing habit in English.

It started slowly by writing every day for 30 minutes. It began with analog Morning pages. It was a discipline I had to develop to show up every day. Once I showed up daily for over 4 months, I knew I was ready to write online again.

Now, I can say it’s a built-in habit in me. I can’t imagine a day without writing.

But I forced myself to build up this habit. I forced myself to be disciplined.

It’s exactly how I forced myself to go to the gym daily. Not because I enjoyed it so much but because I wanted to be healthy and fit. Now, I can’t imagine my life without training and moving my body every day.

Daily writing keeps me on track.

It lets me produce multiple articles a week.

And my mind couldn’t be clearer.

Do I have a unique writing style?

Well, it’s coming along. Slowly, my style emerges from this process of trial and error, embracing my individuality, my origin story, and learning from others. It’s a blend of my cultural background, personal experiences, and the wisdom I’ve gathered from other writers.

My Goals and Philosophy as a Writer

I just want to be a better writer.

That’s it.

I don’t want to leave my job. It’s not soul-crushing or anything. I mostly enjoy what I do (well, 85% of it).

As a writer, I was a natural in Hungarian.

But in English, I’m not natural. I need to work harder than others.

I’m not Tim Denning or Zulie Rane, who spits out words so quickly. I love these writers. I look up to them. But I am not them.

I can’t write in the way they write, and they can’t write in the way I write.

Although I’m not the most experienced English writer, I have discipline and grit. I’m dedicated to improving my English writing skills.

I only want to be better at writing. That’s my only goal.

I don’t want to be on Forbes 30 under 30 (especially I’m over 30). I don’t want a big, fancy job title.

All I want is to write & express.

I believe everyone should write.

Writing is my therapy, my escape, and my community.

And if I earn a few bucks along the way, even better!

Practical Tips for Aspiring Writers

If you’re just beginning your writing journey as a non-native English speaker, give it a go. But know that it’ll be challenging while you establish your routine.

You might even want to give up. So remember why you started.

If you put days and weeks into your writing, it becomes easier.

The more you write, the easier it gets.

Developing a system, a routine, and a framework will help you produce more output.

The more routine and framework you have, the easier writing gets.

When I started creating videos, I spent about 20 hours on a 10-minute-long video (from recording to editing to publishing). Now it takes me about 5 hours.

When I started writing my newsletter, it took me 7 hours to write one, and I had to force myself to keep the monthly schedule. Now, writing a design newsletter takes me a couple of hours.

I know if I keep working on my Medium articles, I slowly get better at writing them. It might take me 6 hours to publish a piece right now, but I’m sure I can cut that time in half soon.

You can start learning and doing something completely new at any age.

There’s no deadline for growth.

If you’ve been thinking about writing, I can only encourage you to embrace the keyboard and the voice within you.

Writing heals & connects, and is your unique gift to the world. Get started, and don’t hesitate to experiment and find out what works for you.

The world needs that special gift that only you have. — Marie Forleo