I think I’ve already mentioned this at least once per week in January, but I’ll say it once more: I challenged myself this month to post on every weekday. I didn’t post every day, but I did write everyday–whether it was something I shared publically or not.
What did I hope to gain from this? Well, mostly a sense of discipline and a strong writing habit. Things didn’t go exactly as expected, but a big part of me now understands why that is OK–let’s get into it.
What I learned from writing every day in January
1. Inspiration trumps schedules
I planned and planned, but so many days I found myself so unmotivated to write what I’d scheduled for the day. When it came down to it, ditching plans and half-finished articles to write something that came to me out of nowhere almost always resulted in a better-quality piece. I think this is an important part of cultivating your writing skill: when inspiration strikes, don’t repress it, just go with it.
2. Give it a day
I didn’t do so well at this, but I know it’s effective. Once you’re finished a post, don’t post it. Go back the next day and reread. This break is such an important part of the editing process–it gives your mind a chance to refresh. You may think you created perfection, but I guarantee that the next day you will find some slight variations that were worth the wait.
3. Write what you read
It’s tempting to pull topics out of the air, but you’re doing yourself a disservice if you are failing to write articles that you would read yourself. Many ideas can be tweaked to create a more interesting spin, and it’s worthwhile to mull over a heading until it becomes something you find clever and memorable.
4. Don’t lose yourself
It can become easy to drill out posts like this: lists that require little in the way of organization and content flow (this will be my last for a while). Who starts writing to write lists? We write to tell stories and (hopefully) to stir someone else to feel a connection to us. Don’t lose your personality in lists–sure, they can be quick and easy, but are never quite as satisfying to the heart.
5. Don’t be a machine
I challenged myself to write every weekday, and I did it. The goal was to kickstart a more disciplined habit, not to begin a new routine. I certainly won’t be keeping up with this (at this point in my life anyway), and will likely go back to 2-3 posts per week. There were times this month that I wrote things that I didn’t feel were my best work (I will probably go back to them at some point), but I felt that it would benefit me mentally if I could get through the challenge.
Fortunately, I did learn the distinction between “forcing it” and finding motivation to be productive. To force it is to really push it on those days where your brain just needs a break. It shows. Hard work and discipline are important, but there’s a huge difference between that and doing something “for the sake of it.”
Read more of my thoughts on writing:
What’s your writing routine? Do you have a routine?