Today is day 100 of my personal blogging challenge. I call it a challenge out of traditional respect, and although it does challenge me, it has grown to be so much more. In these last 100 days, I believe I learned three things that I believe can and will remain with me for the rest of my career.
1. You have nothing to fear
Starting these blogs I was afraid it would take me close to 3 hours each day to finish up a single blog. These were some of my first creations, which albeit were good, were far from time-efficient.
A mentor of mine (*coughs* Hannah Frankman *coughs*), recommended that I try leaving myself a 20-minute window to write anything and everything I can. I almost immediately rejected the idea, thinking it would defame how I look at my ability to write. While for some, this may be the case, it wasn’t until one night where I saw I had been up until 11:40 pm, until I decided to try this tactic.
Low and behold, I pumped out a decent page-long blog in just 20 minutes, far faster than anything I thought I could. Where at first I was totally suspicious of the practice, making it a case where I demanded that I complete the blog in less than 20 minutes spurred my creative horse into a full sprint.
You have nothing to fear when writing, and nothing to fear when writing fast. You don’t need to beat yourself up, nor require perfection of every little thing you do. Even as I write this (which I saw would be a longer piece) I gave myself only about 40 minutes left until this was due to the world.
2. Habits are extremely valuable.
I had always heard about people who would get up every day at 5:00 am and run a mile. In general, I discredited this bunch as people with an inferiority complex who are trying to protect their egos with appearing hyper-successful, fit and productive. While such characters exist, I can now see just how crudely wrong I was.
The simple act of having a ritual to begin the flow of whatsoever you are doing is beyond valuable. In some ways, having a ritual is akin to Pavlov’s dog, and where Pavlov would ring a bell to symbolize the hounds’ appetite, the ritual (in this case, my blog) works the same to symbolize productivity.
There have been many times (in some ways to my dismay) that I have gotten little done between the hours of Noon to 11 at night, started my blog just before midnight, and found myself to have another 3 whole productive hours long after the date had changed. The simple act of defining a ritual, and letting it signal “now I am in work mode” is more valuable than I had ever realized.
Indeed, there is a very human element to it as well, as much of our lives is contained and perpetuated in ritual, and while rituals can become automatic, an automatic thing is not wholly evil. The ritual of brushing one’s teeth is domesticated into us early and is a useful practice in living in the modern world, as is the ritual of taking a family vacation, spending the holidays with loved ones, buckling up before you drive or even maintaining an inside or intimate joke with a friend.
3. No Excuses
I have a love/hate relationship with modern social media. On the one hand, the most venomous personalities in the world now have access to the “fast lane” in shooting their poisons into the rest of the world. It’s no fun watching a teenager engage in excess recreational drugs or heavy drinking, or finding yourself in the creepier, weirder corners of the internet.
On the plus side, it helps keep people together from long distances away. I have a friend I greatly admire from Israel, who without social media I would be hopeless to keep up with. Given I may also move soon, a connection over the phone and line is beyond extremely helpful.
One feature I like in particular, and which I felt is so important that I should write the two above paragraphs are “streak” features in certain apps and websites, and this I enjoy for two reasons. One is that “streaks” help keep people together, and can help you keep up many of your relationships with others on a very relaxed yet consistent effort. Two is that there are no excuses if you lose the streak.
Returning, streaks in writing give you zero excuses if you fail to get everything in. Either you wrote today or you didn’t. Either you got a project in, or you didn’t. Either you asked the pretty girl out or you didn’t. You have zero excuses when it comes to keeping up a streak, and while there can be some legitimate breaks in publishing, when it comes down to writing every day, you either do, or you don’t. You won’t get an excuse when the clock hits midnight, and so you have to decide to either give up or push through.
The United States postal service has a phrase associated with it, going: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds”. While the US postal service today is nothing to write home about (but perhaps write a blog about…) when it comes to blogging every day, you must note all of the above, plus any other distraction. Then, after witnessing your conflict, you can either pursue or back down. The choice is yours.
I hope this blog has given you some insight into the daily blogging practice and has inspired you to blog yourself. I cannot stress the value of the practice, I would not undo a single day of the 100 days thus far.
Until next time,