One month ago I took up a challenge with a friend to blog daily for 30 days. Here are a few things I learned from the experience.
1. Constraints provide momentum.
“What am I going to write about?” is one of the most common questions bloggers must answer for themselves, and I faced this one daily. Though I’d been blogging for several years, I’d never tried to make it a daily practice, and was worried that I wouldn’t be able to sustain the pace.
What I found quite helpful was to create some artificial constraints. I decided on a broad theme of “proverbs in blue”. Each day I took a little phrase that I was chewing on, stuck it in a big font (DIN Condensed) on a blue background (#00B0EA for you design nerds, because it makes all other blues look like silly). Then I found an icon on The Noun Project to aid the illustration, because icons are fun. People with a design eye tend to get bogged down on the details of shapes, fonts and colours, but if I was going to ship daily, I had to err on the side of efficiency.
I then riffed on the phrase in the graphic, with either a couple sentences or a longer post, depending on the day and the topic.
2. There’s always time.
This has been said a lot, but you have time for the things you make time for. For 30 days I carved 30-60 minutes out of my day – either in the morning, after work, or before bed – to write. One of the benefits of time constraints is that you don’t have the luxury of procrastination. You have to ship, whether you feel the post is ready or not.
3. The well is deeper than you think.
Seth Godin (the legendary daily blogger) says that there’s no such thing as writer’s block. Nobody gets talking block, and like talking, you can always find something to write about. In previous writing sprints, I’d usually fizzled out after 3-5 days because I felt like I had nothing left to say. My well was dry. Pushing through helped me realize both the importance of filling that well, and that the well was deeper than I thought.
4. Write as a practice, not for results.
Although many companies “do content” as a marketing strategy, and there are plenty of blog posts out there that will preach their strategy for drumming up huge followings and pageviews in 30 days or less, that’s never been my approach or experience. And if you’re blogging to gain a huge following, you’ll walk away disillusioned after a few weeks. You have to invest in the process, not just the results.
I realized in the past 30 days that I’m not blogging that kind of results. I’m incredibly grateful that you’re reading, and it wouldn’t be the same without you. But even if you weren’t reading, I think I’d still do it for what I gain from the process. Writing has taught me how to see, be attentive and process what I’m learning. It’s also helped me learn how to write, because writing well takes practice.
What do you have to say?
If you’re looking for a creative challenge, I’d recommend 30 days of blogging. Spin up a simple blog on WordPress or Medium, and start writing (and send me a link, I’ll cheer you on). It doesn’t have to be pretty or polished. The process is the point.
Nothing warms my heart like watching someone step onto the stage, pick up the “microphone” and tell the world what they have to say. Add your voice, it’ll make the song that much better.
Thanks for reading.