31 days of blogging
You’ve probably noticed that I’ve seriously upped my blogging game last month, going from 1–2 posts a month to daily.
Yes, this was deliberate. I’ve been referring to my month of blogging as “Blog-tober” (I know, not catchy at all), and I wanted to share a bit about why I did it and what I’ve learned.
Why I started daily blogging
Earlier this summer, I took a crazy trip to the Philippines where I traveled by myself to 2,000 year old rice terraces in tribal country and spent several days backpacking off the grid.
If you like stories, you will certainly like this one. But like any wild adventure, there’s a lot to unpack and I want to get it right. Since my return, I have been working on a longer-form narrative about this experience. And *this* type of writing is not fun at all: it’s slow, painstaking, and filled with self-doubt at the end of every paragraph. You can write for a page or two and then ask yourself, “Does any of this matter?” And sometimes the answer is no. Honesty it really sucks. And I can’t even tell if it’s any good yet.
The important thing for me however is to not get caught in the middle of the downward spiral web of long-form writing. To stay somewhat close to the top for fresh air and avoid deep ravines and entire essays that are a massive waste of time and distraction. One of the ways that helps me do this is to publish something entirely different and get reactions from the world. That’s a little dopamine rush that feels good, even when there’s this whole other thing that won’t see the light of day for months.
Finally, I don’t want to forget who’s telling the story, and by that I mean, my personal voice. If I only write this long-form piece, which is confusing and complicated and messy, it’s way easier to forget what I sound like. But if I’m also writing regular, short-form pieces on a daily clip, then I’m essentially priming my brain on my style and voice constantly. That way when I do sit down to work on this other thing, it’ll come out a bit better than it would otherwise.
At least that’s the story I’m telling myself. So yes, I essentially went from sporadic and intermittent burst writing to a day-to-day cadence times two almost overnight. It’s amazing how much new time you can find in your day with a little discipline.
What I’ve learned
All that aside, I’ve learned quite a bit about daily blogging that I also enjoy. Here are a few:
It puts a nice forcing habit of intent around my day. I’m the kind of person who will dwell on something in my mind until I say it out loud or get it out of paper. So, counterintuitive as it may seem, all this writing has been an incredibly helpful exercise in mind-clearing. For every post in October, I started and wrote it that very same day. I didn’t tee up anything in advance.
It prioritizes completion over perfection. This is certainly something I struggle with: In my head I have the perfect concept of the future state of a thing, and I’ll wait to start until I think I can get there. This is crippling and bad. Many days (like today) I have only 25–30 minutes free to write something. I force myself to get it done and push “publish” and don’t look back. It’s certainly not all good. Like, at all. Which means it’s a good exercise.
It makes me pay more attention. When you go about your day looking for stories to tell, you see stories everywhere. This is also just a good lesson in observation and staying “present” and looking for a new niche or angle to consider. I think this over time might keep you a bit sharper and reduce the risk of complacency.
It’s fun to get feedback. Whether it’s a comment on a blog post, a mention via email, or even just analyzing the data trends on Medium of posts that got more pick-up than others, I have WAY more data now (both qualitative and quantitative). Over time I want to use this more to get a better sense of my own perception of my writing compared to what’s resonating with others. I have a few more ideas than before, but this still needs work.
Okay, you’re probably thinking, but it’s November now; are you still going?
And the answer is…yes…for now. I’m telling myself I will keep this up at least until I have a v1 first draft going of my other piece. At the rate I’m going, it’s looking like I may be in for at least several more months of this daily blogging cadence. Hopefully by then I’ll have another few months of practice in place of writing in this format and even more data to go on to evaluate what’s working and what’s not working.
But until then, I’ll see you here tomorrow.