30 Posts in 30 Days
by Dan Walsh
A post mortem on writing.
Ha ha! Get it? Post mortem!
I decided on a whim to write 30 posts in 30 days. It was the best whim I’ve ever had. This personal boot camp turned me into a better writer, a faster writer and a better thinker. It was hard to get a post written everyday. I learned a lot about habit creation and how to break something down into manageable parts. I was also able to uproot many of the mental blocks I used to have around writing.
After committing to a post everyday, the first problem I faced was finding the time to write. I resolved to get up an hour early everyday and spend that time on writing. This also limited my posts to topics I could write about in roughly 60 minutes. In some ways this 60 minute limit made the project feel less daunting. I wasn’t writing a book, after all. No pressure. I would wake up at 6am, make my coffee, and then sit down for a morning write. Easy right? Not really. It was tough waking up early, but the promise of caffeine was an encouraging reward for the new habit. The feeling of accomplishment from finishing a post was even better, but there were a few more hurdles before I got to that point.
After making my coffee and sitting down to write, I found it was extremely difficult to get started. For the first week or so I spent at least the first 30 minutes writing and rewriting my first sentence. What horrible purgatory! Eventually I realized what every other writer already knows: the importance of warming up. The easier the warm up the better. I fell into the following routine: fill in my Little Memory for yesterday, spend about 5 minutes writing about how I feel, then choose a post topic and go to town. This warm up was extremely helpful. I was easing into the writing process. Writing about how I felt helped get the words flowing without having to think too much.
Choosing a topic that I could write about in 60 minutes was often difficult. However, this limitation taught me how to estimate a topic’s size and how to break up large topics into manageable posts. In the past, I would try to tackle something expansive like “friendship” and think I could write something worthwhile in an hour or two. I’d start to write, get frustrated when it took too long and went nowhere, and then eventually give up. I would spend months writing but have nothing to show for it because nothing was finished. The 60 minute limit, and the commitment to post everyday forced me break topics down so that I could actually finish.
The commitment to post everyday also removed the pressure for any single post to be a masterpiece. This freed up my creativity and gave me permission to experiment with posts. I used to subscribe to the “write less but write well” camp. This created the need for perfection. Every post needed to be awesome because I’d only release one every month or so. In a way, cranking out posts everyday gave me permission to be mediocre sometimes. Obviously I wanted everything I wrote to be made of gold, but realistically that wasn’t going to happen. I had to get over it and I did. It was liberating. The irony is that producing mediocre work was the practice I needed to start writing better posts.
I thought I would end this writing challenge after 30 days. How could I possibly keep it up? But I can keep it up. I’ve gotten faster and more efficient. It’s not a struggle to bust out a post anymore. And I’ve seen so much benefit from the practice that I can’t imagine giving it up when I still have so much to gain.