Seven weeks ago, I made a commitment to open up an anonymous blog and “hit publish every day”. The goals were to build the mechanical habit of writing by hitting publish, and to lower my fear of putting myself out there.
Today is the last day of those seven weeks. Somewhat to my surprise, I’ve been amazingly compliant: This is my 50th post. I missed only one day. And somehow I must have gotten an extra couple of posts in there somewhere.
Here are my top takeaways:
- Prioritize doing it every day over every other constraint. No matter how small the effort, no matter how shitty the writing. Do it every day. It’ll keep writing top of mind, and it’ll build momentum and meaning. Before I was writing every day, it was hard to justify reading books like Steven Pinker’s The Sense of Style. But as soon as I was writing every day, it felt meaningful and valid to pick up that book. I was writing; why not learn how to do it better. If you’re writing every day you’re constantly picking up little tips and making connections about how to be a better writer. If you’re writing every day, you can’t not grow as a writer.
- Your daily goal needs to be tangible and measurable. Hitting Publish is good because it’s super clear and binary. There’s no fuzziness. Of course, to hit publish every day you have to be willing to publish things that are worse than the best you can do. See #4.
- Do less meta-work and more draft work. I have a bad habit of spending lots of time ‘preparing’ to write. I’ll spend hours and hours outlining, researching, rubber ducking, drafting pieces here and there. And at the end, I’ll often get burned out on the project and abandon it. That’s why I made it my goal to hit publish every day. And it’s amazing. Some of my most successful (in terms of reads) pieces were ones for which I prepared the least. You don’t start to figure out what’s needed and how to write well until you’re actually trying to write the thing. So draft early.
- Go anonymous. Or pseudonymous. It’s great. Your perfectionist goes away, and you can just write. I think of all these posts as first drafts. They’re shitty, and that’s fine. I may later take some of them and do a second draft. I’ll probably publish those too.
Next up for me: I’m going to set myself another goal. I’ll be working with friends to decide what the next best goal might be. I’m thinking it’ll still be publish every day, but maybe this time I’ll go back and write a second draft on posts I’ve already written.