A few months ago, I completed an experiment of blogging for 100 days straight. I certainly didn’t publish everything I wrote (I knew upfront that a lot of it was going to be crap), but I wanted to form the habit. Daily writing has so many benefits, from the science-based health ones to the obvious benefits related to becoming a better communicator and entrepreneur.
What could possibly make me do this to myself? (a real question I received)
I decided to do this because I found the 100 days of making from the Great Discontent and really wanted to undertake something similar – I’d tried previously, with stuff like calligraphy or photography, but had given up before the end of the first week each time. The reason I usually gave up is that I’d end up getting too busy or feel guilty about spending time on the challenge when I had other stuff I had to be doing.
So this time, I decided to do it around blogging. I’d write 100 blogs – whether they’re any good or not – in 100 days.
Whenever I would tell people what I was doing – the question I got the most was about how I stuck to it day in and day out. The simple answer is that I made it a priority (the more complex answer is below, but we’ll get there).
Writing my blog post was the very first thing I did. I’ve always been an early-riser but would usually waste that time checking my email and social media. Instead, I would wake up, make myself a coffee and just sit down and write it. None of my usual drama that comes along with avoiding something – I’d just do it.
One day a week (Saturdays), I would come up with all my topics and outlines for the coming week. I would usually only take 5 minutes with each one.
On another day (Wednesdays), I would review the last 7 posts, rewrite a bit and send some of them to an editor.
What I Learned
Separate the planning from the writing:
When I would sit down to write without an outline, I would stare at my screen and usually write nothing. But when I’d have an outline (even just a few bullet points) of the direction I wanted to go with the piece, writing the post was actually really easy. Since that discovery, I’d spend one day a week coming up with outlines for my next 7 posts.
Writing becomes really easy when you do it all the time:
Writing’s like a muscle – the more you use it, the easier it’ll be. At least for me, I think it’s because I became better at articulating my thoughts through writing. The 100 days made me a much better thinker.
Not everything I write will be good:
I definitely was not batting a thousand when it came to my posts – but there were some gems in there. And I noticed that as time went on, my posts became more consistent. So even though I was writing a post a day, I was only publishing one a week so that left a lot for my content bank (that I can pull if I take a vacation or need something for a guest post).
It’s hard to come up with topics that excited me:
The one challenge that I came up against again and again was the topic challenge. It was difficult to come up with topics that I was excited to write about day in and day out. And the biggest thing I learned is how essential it is to have a topic that satisfies your own curiosity and interest – not just another check-mark in the streak. I even wrote about how to come up with topics that delight you and your readers here.
What I’m Doing Now That It’s Over
In addition to these lessons plus the pretty ingrained habit of writing, I also walked away from the challenge with 58 mostly complete blog posts and other pieces I can tweak and use in other ways. I’m also really proud of myself for sticking with it … although I’m equally relieved to be done with the 100 days. Too intense, too hard to come up with that much content I want to write. It started to feel a bit too procedural.
So what am I doing now? Well, I’m still writing (mostly) every day. I now write 5 blog posts a week with Saturdays dedicated to going over what I’ve written and preparing for the next 5 posts. Occasionally, I’ll kibosh the blog post thing and spend the 5 mornings working on a larger piece of content (a new freebie, an ebook, a webinar, etc.)
I really wanted to keep up the new habit I spent 100 days building and love this quote from Gretchen Rubin about daily writing habits,
“Step by step, you make your way forward. That’s why practices such as daily writing exercises or keeping a daily blog can be so helpful. You see yourself do the work, which shows you that you can do the work. Progress is reassuring and inspiring; panic and then despair set in when you find yourself getting nothing done day after day. One of the painful ironies of work life is that the anxiety of procrastination often makes people even less likely to buckle down in the future.” Gretchen Rubin