This is post number 50 of my 100-days-of-writing challenge. It’s halftime! Time for me to look at how this little (?!?) experiment worked out so far and what I might have learned or experienced since I started back in May.
First of all, the obvious: Writing a post every day is a lot of work. Most people don’t sit down at their desks, write for half an hour and end up with a well-written, interesting post. At least that’s not how it works for me. So publishing a post every day is time-consuming and also costs a lot of energy. Something I realized pretty quickly is that I need at least a three-step process to finish a piece: First of all, a phase of thinking about what to write, then the writing phase, and lastly the most important phase: editing. It is challenging to compress all those steps into one session. So what worked well for me was thinking about a topic over the day, writing the draft in the evening (with maybe a bit of pre-editing), and then doing a final edit with a clear brain the next morning. This requires, however, that you have time for all three tasks throughout the day. And with a family at home in the office, client work, and workshops, this can get a bit difficult. So after a few posts, I decided to not write over the weekend, except for Sunday evening and I gave myself permission to publish two posts on the same day from time to time to catch up if I missed publishing the day before. I’m cheating a bit, I know, but at the same time I defined the rule to still write something every day, which I did.
Another thing I noticed: The idea that you could simply put out smaller posts doesn’t work at all for me. Why is that? Because writing a shorter piece will actually be more work and much more challenging than writing a longer text. If, for example, you want to convey an idea in only two paragraphs and tell a story, too, you only have so many words and sentences at your disposal. This means that, at least if you want to keep the quality of your posts at a certain level, every word counts and you’ll spend a considerable amount of time editing your post until it “works”. As a result, many of my posts turned out to be much longer than I had expected. Not as long as many of my previous articles, but still long enough to make me wonder if the posts are still “snackable” enough.
But now to the things that worked fairly well. First of all, it is true: When you write every day, you’ll start to think constantly about what to write about. And what is even more valuable: You start to notice things, thoughts, and connections throughout the day that might be an interesting topic for a post. Naturally, there are days when you immediately have an idea about what to write about, and then there are other days when ideas don’t come that easy. On such days, it worked well for me to have a constant stream of input like articles, podcasts, or books.
I also got faster at writing and I feel like I am editing a bit less. English is my second language (actually, it is my third – sorry for forgetting about you, Latin) and I still feel like a bloody beginner. Although I have started to use words like bloody, which, of course, I hear in Stephen Fry’s voice as I write them. But I also have the feeling that I am using the dictionary less often than before. And if I do, it is very likely because I know that there is a word that might be a better fit for the occasion – excuse me: the intended purpose – that isn’t yet part of my active vocabulary.
Stay tuned, I assume, the real words come after halftime.
This is the 50th post of my 100 days of writing series. You can find a list of all posts here.