I took the Jeff Goins’ challenge for all of January. I wrote a minimum of 500 words each day to instill a habit of writing regularly. It worked. Here’s what I learned. As of this writing, I have not missed a day in 2018.
The biggest thing I’ve learned is to spend time gathering ideas so when I sit down to write, I have a source to pull ideas from – sitting in front of the keyboard wishing for inspiration AND trying to write is fruitless, in my experience.
The next thing I learned is that my daily posting fell behind because I was building content – to be consistent will require more time from me daily. I will need to have three activities – create ideas, write some predecided word count, and finish and post blog posts.
I’ve struggled against my subconscious.
I will now come up with ideas randomly, in situations where it is impossible to write them down. While in the shower, while driving, etc. I’ve come up with enough ideas now that I know a decent one when it rears its unfinished head. I haven’t as of yet (day 10 right now) figured out a solid way to capture these when I don’t have the ability to write them down. I was able to nurture an idea in the shower long enough to dry off and jot it down – but I had to repeat the idea to myself over and over and over – and not let my mind wander. But that creative part of your mind doesn’t want to stick around with one idea – it wants to go do something else now. I’m like a hyperactive ADD 3-year-old at that point.
I’m getting to be a content snob.
I’ve noticed that after just 12 days, I’m starting to judge my own writing. It’s funny because I know the goal of this exercise is to create the habit, but I’m starting to judge whether something is worth writing about before I even write it, negating the whole idea.
17 days in – it’s getting easier each day. Once I find a topic to write about, again something I just pull from previous day’s idea sessions, I find it easy to write more than 500 words. My posting has dropped off significantly, but mostly because I don’t have a lot of time to prep and finalize posts like I did when I was focusing on posting rather than writing.
27 days in. I’ve only had one day where it’s really been a struggle, that was day 26. I ended up writing three smaller items instead of one 500-word article. The words flow better – I met a good friend of mine this week who I haven’t seen in several years, and he commented that I’m different. Happier. He’s never seen me this excited. It’s because I’m actually writing each day and feel like I’m producing rather than consuming. I didn’t realize my outward attitude had changed. That was a nice feeling.
46 days and counting – I was able to hit the 31-day streak while on the road, but after that, I started to have issues. When I travel, I don’t have the time to research ideas for the next day. This just reaffirms the idea that I need a solid well of ideas to pull from so I don’t stare at the screen in the morning.
I create a lot of crap.
A lot of my content will never see the light of day. I think that’s how it is with art, and at this point, I’m ok with creating crap. If 1% of my work is exceptional, I need to make a lot of it to find the diamond hidden in the bullshit.
I struggle with organization. I have my daily writing down. I use Evernote and have a folder just for this year, a new entry every day. That works. Where I store and write down my ideas has varied and causes some concern. Since I write first thing in the morning, somewhere around 4:45 AM when I get teeth brushed and sit down at my laptop, my mind is not in the mood to go search for ideas. I’ve started a new notebook in Evernote to hold ideas. I have a summary Google Sites page that I update each Saturday with the ideas I like best. I haven’t used it yet. I have no explanation for that. It’s 4:45 AM, and I am not a morning person.
And so goes the experiment/process of me forming a daily writing habit, something I’ve been unable to do until now, at 49 years old. I’ve only been trying since I was 21. Better late, than never. I consider it a huge success at this point, even if my writing never goes anywhere. I’ve managed to finally become the writer I always wanted to be.
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4 thoughts on “I Wrote 500 Words a Day For 31 Days: Here’s What I Learned”
You say you are becoming judgemental of your own writing. How much do you go back and read of your own work during this exercise?
I actually go back at least once a week and try to review my writing, pull what I can for the blog, and make a consolidated person Google sites page so I can see it all in one place. It doesn’t work as well as I would like. I find I have to force myself to remember to go back over my content. For instance, I thought I was running out of new content, and went over my daily writing last night and found 5 posts that can be used once they are edited and cleaned up. So the content is there, I just have to let things stew for a bit.
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I like this post. Last year, I also made a goal of writing at least 500-1000 words everyday. But after a few days I was struggling and when I had a lot of work, I completely slipped. Then I again got back to it but it has been a struggle. Reading this post reminded me that I need to stick to the process of writing without wanting much out of it. I think I need to remember that I write because I enjoy the process of writing. I like that I can shut out the outside world and multiple thoughts in my head and focus on writing. Thanks for this post.
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It’s all about the routine! Lower your goal down to 200 words. Then when you get reliable output, it’s easy to boost it higher. Thank you for the comment!