What I've learnt from 14 days of daily blogging

Yesterday, I got a message out of the blue. Twitter buddy Joao Landeiro congratulated me for hitting a 14-day streak for writing this blog. Two things took me by surprise. One: someone was paying more attention than I was to my “X effect” commitment. Two: As much as I’m writing this blog for myself, it felt good for my efforts to be acknowledged.

So I’m 14 days, 14 posts in, and I’m really enjoying it. The X effect has undoubtedly taken hold. Even though I’ve often furiously written just before midnight, but I still publish on time. The power of a self-imposed deadline and the urge to not break the chain is more potent than expected. I’m not sure why, as it all seems arbitrary. I’m just drawing an X next to another. What is the psychology at play here? How have we evolved to respond like this, to something so simple? Whatever is going on, it’s working.

I’ve noticed some interesting things as a result of writing every day. For one, I’ve primarily ditched my laptop for writing. I love to sit down and write, and in the first week, I felt like I couldn’t write without it. But there were occasions where to make sure I hit the deadline, I wrote the blog on my phone. It turns out that my thoughts and writing ability are the same, no matter what I use to write! Now I’m writing everywhere. On the toilet. Walking the dog. Rocking the baby. No excuses!

Coming up with what to write is still hard, but it has gotten easier. I’ve found that one topic sparks an idea for another. Or something I experienced in the day contains a lesson worth thinking about. Which makes my blog a kind of public journal. It’s therapeutic to write. Writing is like swatting flies that race around in your mind. In these past two weeks, I think it’s helped me feel less anxious. When a day feels doomed, writing gives it purpose—at the very least, a distraction.

Because this blog is for me, there’s less pressure. It’s the right balance to have the pressure of publishing every day, with the freedom to write about whatever you want. This makes writing more enjoyable. Moreso than the awful essay writing you’re taught at school, or the “valuable SEO asset” motive for most web content. Every sentence is about self-expression, not keyword density.

A friend was quizzing me on the real reason I was writing this blog. He couldn’t believe I was doing it just because I wanted to get better at writing. There had to be some commercial angle! I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t. Of course, I’d like to grow a readership, but you can’t write without ego - we all want to be heard and understood. The fact you’re reading this far, and hopefully enjoying it (especially if it’s in your inbox) is only a bonus. It was worth writing, just for the act of writing itself.

The last and most important thing I’ve noticed of my 14-days of blogging is that I’m connecting with people, and it’s awesome. When someone replies to the latest blog email, or like Joao, reaches out on Twitter - it makes it all worth it. After all, what’s writing for if it isn’t to connect with folk? I love hearing how a particular idea or point resonated with someone. It’s like seeing a lighthouse respond to your signal, popping into existence from the dark.