What I Gained From 30 Days of Writing Every Day and What Next?
Today is the 30th day of my 30-day writing experiment. I set out with the aims of developing the ability to write well and contributing positively to those that read my writing. To achieve this, I focused on quantity first and quality second.
I must now reflect on what I’ve learnt and decide where to go next.
What have I gained?
First and foremost, the whole experience has been thoroughly enjoyable. At times it’s been hard to write and some days have been frustrating to say the least. However, the feeling of pushing the ‘publish’ button after pushing through this resistance is fantastic.
Writing has been a way for me to enter a state of flow, which has carried over into other parts of my life. Away from writing, I have been more positive with friends and family, more motivated to work hard and more attentive and receptive to life in general. I get out of bed with energy in the mornings and have greater appreciation for the simple things, like a beautiful view while taking my dog for a walk. Who would have thought that writing every day could have this effect?
2. Finding solutions to problems
Writing and spending more time in a state of flow has also helped me to solve real-world problems. By forcing myself to write on a subject, I force myself to think deeply about it. If writing about a problem, I wouldn’t publish without offering solutions so the commitment to publish every day ensures I keep thinking.
This extends beyond just the period spent writing — practicing output makes me more receptive to input. I have noticed I learn and retain information much more quickly as my brain continually tries to form links with other ideas floating about in my brain at that time. I guess writing ensures you keep picking up and using your knowledge, rather than letting it lie dormant in your brain.
During these 30 days, one recurring theme has been reflections on the process of writing — the following solutions, which I came up with during these period, are all things I am still using to facilitate my writing process:
- Finding time to write (Day 18)
- Choosing one topic and sticking to it (Day 27)
- Thinking of my articles as a first draft (Day 25)
- Avoiding certain feedback (no readership stats!) (Day 4) but encouraging other forms (Day 10 and Day 21)
- Setting a writing time limit (Day 11)
- Questions to guide writing (Day 2)
This reflects the fact that my focus right now is on developing my writing ability, but writing could equally be used to solve problems in other parts of life.
3. A sense of progress
Progress and growth are one of the six fundamental needs for fulfillment. I’ve certainly had my doubts, but every time I overcame a personal hurdle during these 30 days (most notably Day 9 and Day 27) I felt an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. It didn’t matter if these were relatively small achievements compared to others, and I feel good going forwards.
Writing is an attractive area to pursue growth, as there is infinite potential for improvement — there is no such thing as a ‘perfect’ writer, in the way that there may be ‘perfect’ exam scores or ‘perfect’ performances in other areas.
Also, I have produced a body of work which I can look back on and be proud of. Sure, many of my articles are pretty rough around the edges, but that’s the stage I’m at right now. This is simply a documentation of my life at the moment which I hope to look back at in future years with fondness.
I am faced with a number of options to choose between.
1. Take a break from writing, with a view to pick up regular writing in the future
I heard the following quote:
“A writer is someone who can’t not write”.
This is pretty much how I feel right now so I’m not going to consider this as an option.
2. Extend my daily writing challenge: 6 months? 1 year?
It is with sadness that I must acknowledge my current time restrictions and other commitments. Therefore it would be unwise for me to continue writing every day. While it would be achievable, I wouldn’t be able to devote the level of focus and energy that I would want to and trying to do many things at once prevents real progress in any. I must practice what I preach and choose only the most important things.
3. Continue at a lower frequency
This is the obvious middle ground so the next question is how often. Many popular bloggers write exactly 2 times a week and this sounds sustainable alongside my other commitments, so I will try this for the next month and then re-assess. Commitment made.
Other: Publicising my work?
Up until this point, I have made minimal effort to publicise my writing on social media platforms or elsewhere. As a result, I have just built a modest following of 130 people on Medium plus approximately 10–20 friends who regularly my articles.
However, a writer needs an audience and so at some point I should start attempting to build one. Am I at this point now or should I wait longer? I have now written 50 articles. Considering the amount of time I have spent writing those 50 (I would estimate ~75-100 hours), I don’t think it’d be unreasonable to spend 1 hour or so gaining more publicity. If I do so, I will write about the steps that I take.
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