“A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.”Bruce Lee
I started writing daily out of ambitious desperation. You see, I wanted to write, to be a writer (among other things), but I wasn’t writing. I’d squeeze out a blog post every month or so, and jot down lots of ideas, but I was doing more non-writing than writing. I made the mistake of waiting for inspiration to come, instead of seeking inspiration out through motion.
I knew something needed to change, but I wasn’t quite sure what that was yet.
Seth Godin was a big inspiration. Somewhere around this time, I was reading his book, Whatcha Gonna Do With That Duck? A compendium of blog posts from his daily blog organized into centralized ideas. It was a thick-baby, coming in at 605 pages. I had read a few other books from Seth and would read his blog every so often. I think what drew me to the book was the fun and silly book cover with rubber duckies and the title. (I’ve always been drawn to ducks and birds, but that’s a story for another day).
It was inspiring to see how a writing practice could add up to something bigger and deeper than its individual parts.
Around the same time, I was also inspired by a couple of people I knew who had challenged themselves to draw every day for a year and make a drumbeat every day for a year.
At this point, I had what you could call an epiphany (aka the obvious thing that keeps smacking you in the face trying to get your attention).
If I were to write every day for, say a hundred days, that would be like writing a one-hundred-page book. Or a full year would be three-hundred and sixty-five pages.
With a daily habit, I could quickly go from being a “wannabe writer” to a “writer”.
This isn’t exactly an original thought. Plenty of people do this in their own craft (whether they have a name for it or not). But it was original to me. Going daily planted the seed for something much greater than myself.
Ideas come from Momentum
When it comes to wanting to do something (wanting to be something) it’s all about momentum. Taking a yoga class once is a fun exercise. Doing yoga every weekday is a practice. One is a pastime, the other is taking you somewhere. Where you are going depends on the habit you are cultivating. But whatever it is, you are going somewhere. That goes for good habits and bad habits. Building momentum comes from being consistent and intentional. Phoning it in is almost like standing still. You have to pour your heart and energy into something in order to make it become something alive and special. Some days, all you have to give is phoning it in. If that’s all you got today, then that’s all you got. But that just means you have to get up the next day and try harder.
One thing I noticed fairly quickly as I had no shortage of ideas, almost as if having a creative outlet gave my mind permission to open myself up to my life and let ideas flow in. I’ve noticed this before when I write songs.
Sometimes the music comes first and then inspires lyrics, other times coming up with lyrics naturally gives way to musical ideas. Regardless, the songs that come are a reflection of what I’m feeling, observing and-or experience at the moment.
Creativity needs an outlet, whatever that is for you. It’s not enough to want to be a dancer or want to be an Entrepreneur. You have to go out and live it. Your creative outlets are like lightning rods to ideas. But if you aren’t in motion ideas come much more slowly (if at all).
Another observation was that a writing idea could come from anywhere. A conversation. A new book. An old book. A walk in the park. Frustration. Anxiety. Anger. Random objects. Writing made me more observant of the world around me. I would have to pick and choose which writing idea I wanted to grab onto for the day.
Creativity is a mixture of conscious and subconscious influences. I can have a writing idea—call it a prompt or a question—in the morning, go about my workday without thinking about it, and have an answer to it by the evening when I sat down to write.
Of course, not every idea will be a masterpiece. But each day gave me the chance to work on my skills and hone my ideas. For every six decent to bad ideas, there was bound to be one good idea worth more than the rest combined.
Mistakes Lessons Learned
Mistake #1 Not Sharing Enough
One thing that took me an embarrassingly long time to do was to write one day in advance. Early on, I would could up with an idea, write, edit, upload, publish, and share all on the same day. This works but takes up a lot of mental space and the work doesn’t come out as nicely as I would like. Probably about a year in I took the initiative and wrote two posts in one day so that I schedule a post to go out in the morning instead of publishing it in the morning. If I were to go back and start over again, I would have done this from the beginning (people are more likely to read your work in the morning than in the evening). Writing the post that would go out the next day also gave each one a little room to breathe. I more time an idea has to stew, the more I could hone the message into a succinct idea.
Now I’m working on writing multiple posts in advance so that I can give each of them more time and attention. I’m still writing and editing every day, I’m just building on top of my craft and experimenting with ways to improve my skills, have better ideas, and provide more impactful and meaningful work.
Mistake #2 Not Leading with Story
Another thing I would do differently (and am working on improving now) is adding more storytelling to my blog posts. Storytelling is one of (if not the) most powerful ways to teach or get a message across to others. When we listen to a story, whether fantasy or reality, we put ourselves into the equation and are much more willing to listen and discover the knowledge and wisdom buried in the tale. A lot of my blogs are just straight up insights or observations. This type of writing has its place, but if you want to make people feel and care about what you have to say, you have to tell it in a way that they will want to listen.
Mistake #3 Dropping the Ball
The last thing I’ll mention is if I could go back and improve things, I would have kept up with my newsletter and podcast. I had a tiny newsletter even before I started daily blogging, but I just couldn’t stay consistent with it. And the same goes for my podcast. My life was in turmoil at the time, and those were the things that I had to give. But I’m kicking myself because they are powerful ways to connect with likeminded people and ways to share what you doing.
I’ve more recently reworked both my podcast and have started a few newsletters. My plan is to double, triple down on both of them.
Streaks are a powerful motivator
I’m not sure what the exact number is—it’s likely different for each of us—but perhaps around thirty days of doing something in a row, you build up a streak that you don’t want to break. Take walking for example. Walk today, and you might not think of anything if you didn’t walk tomorrow. It gets interesting when the day starts adding up. Walk six days in a row and you’ll likely want to walk on day seven. But what about thirty days? Ninety days in a row? A full year? You better believe that when day three-hundred and sixty-six rolls around you’ll do anything and everything to make sure you don’t miss it.
Here’s what one day of a habit looks like in star emojis:
Here’s a full week:
And here’s one thousand days:
Days add up. Whatever it is you want to do, whatever you want to be good at—make them work for you. It’s not easy, but if you stick to it it’s worthwhile.
Daily blog has been a guiding force in my life for the last year plus years. Just as a daily habit can be your too if you take up the challenge. What better way to prove to yourself that you have ideas worth sharing and that you can help others by sharing your story.
You Have Ideas Worth Sharing.
Hitting a thousand days in a row doesn’t make me want to quit—in fact just the opposite. I want to do more, help more, connect more, tell better stories, and challenge myself to make The Renaissance Life something truly special.
STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1000 🎉