10 Things Learnt From Writing 30 Days Consecutively
And how it changed me as a person and a writer
Between the month of July and August, I decided to document my journey towards entrepreneurial greatness. Here are 10 things I’ve learnt from the entire experience.
1. Success doesn’t happen overnight
I hear this phrase all the time and yet, something in my brain is always convinced that I am a special case.
This must be the fifth or sixth time I’ve thrown myself knee deep into something only to find myself struggling to stay afloat as I furiously splosh around like a fish that doesn’t know how to swim.
For context, I decided not to get back into the traditional 9–5 workforce after being made redundant a few months of returning from my maternity leave.
30 days of writing, or rather, documenting my experiences and journey forced me to evaluate every day. It forced me to see the days where nothing happens and the days when everything seems to happen all at once. It forced me to recognize and prioritize my goals, my needs, my wants and my reality.
2. Writing forced me to focus
I’ve been described a jumper by those that know me really well. While the external world often sees me as someone who can get things done, I’m more a rabbit than tortoise.
When I decided to embark on the task of writing every day, which quickly morphed into a compromise of writing for 30 days, I realized that for a long time I’ve been moving sideways rather than towards my goals.
I would often start something before jumping into something new. Writing allowed me to start something new every day but still maintain a steady pace towards what I wanted to achieve.
3. Writing is like training for a marathon
It takes dedication. It takes consistency. It takes prioritization and it takes time.
When I started writing, I was all full steam ahead. Until I got tired. My brain became fatigued. I needed to rest but knew that if I stopped, that would be it.
When you train for a marathon, you don’t run the same amount each day. You vary your speed, distance and route to build up strength and stamina. You also have rest days to let your muscles recover. You have a schedule and you have a plan.
Writing is like training for a marathon. After my 30 days, I decided to set myself to the task of writing at least three times a week. It didn’t matter when. It didn’t matter how. All it mattered is that I do it consistently and pace it out.
Like a runner’s calves, the brain needs rest too — especially when you’re not yet a seasoned professional.
4. When stuck, write about what you know
I use to read this a lot in the writing threads back in the early 2000s. It sounded unhelpful. How could you write about dragons and magical lands you’ve never been to?
I had it all wrong.
The best stories isn’t about how well the scenery was described. The best stories is about learning, experiences, feelings, interactions and memories. Sure there may be some element of fiction to spice it all up — but it is all these things that connects us as humans. It is the emotions, the actions and decisions of characters draw us to see and visualize what the author is trying to communicate.
That stuff can’t be conjured up from thin air.
“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.” — Mark Twain
Don’t have any experiences to write about? Then its time to go out and make some.
5. Having an audience helps
My motivational level went up when I started submitting to publications. It helps to have an audience because you feel obligated to keep creating even when you don’t feel like it.
When I get a comment, a clap, highlight or any kind of interaction — I know that someone, somewhere cared enough about what I’ve created to do something about it.
It’s like a virtual pat on the back — a sort of ‘well done, you did a good thing.’
6. Routine eventually wins over writer’s block
The brain is a funny thing. It’s a creature of habit and knows what to do when it’s forced to repetitively do something in a routine manner.
Initially, there was a lot of brain farts happening and taking up a great deal of time to get started. Now I can sit with fingers to keyboard and type without much issue.
I still start writing something only to switch halfway because the piece is simply not working, but at least I’m writing and not just staring at the blank screen.
It’s like learning to wake up at a certain time without an alarm clock. But instead of getting out of bed, its my brain getting ready to write.
When something becomes routine, it takes less effort and just happens in an automated manner.
7. It helped me get over my self consciousness
I’ve always wanted to start a blog. I’ve started several times. Gave up the same amount of times.
I made a personal promise to myself not to delete anything once it’s been published — no matter how bad I think it is after a few days.
Deleting things has always been a problem. I get hyper critical about my work and end up with nothing at the end. It didn’t matter how much I created, I always ended up at ground zero all over again.
Writing and publishing for 30 days force me to get over my self consciousness towards my work. The next piece will always look better than the previous — but that’s what progress looks like.
8. To write about life, you have to live life
Writing about life is the easiest form of writing. It easy because it draws from what you already know and experience.
But you can’t really write about life if you haven’t lived it.
I’m not talking about YOLO moments and late nights at the club kind of ‘living’ life. I’m talking about being aware and mindful of my emotions, my thoughts, the things I do each day, the repetition, the new, the ordinary and extraordinary.
I live to write. I write to live.
9. It helps to have a tagline
It took me a while to figure out what my tagline is.
I played with several ideas and phrases. I tried them on at the end of articles. I wrote them down on paper in pen, vivid and pencil just to see what it looks like.
Eventually I found one that fitted what I internally want to achieve.
Having my tagline has helped me stay focus on what kind of content I want to create. It’s like the equivalent of having a niche — except I chose to make it a personal tagline rather than a commercial one.
I want to grow as a person and writing is one of my tools to help me along the way.
10. It’s alright to start from scratch using the same material
There are days where I start writing only to stop and start again.
When a piece starts to feel like its forced, I know that the words written is a sunk cost. Over time I find that it’s better to abandon ship and start again rather than force myself through a crumbling wreckage that can’t be salvage.
But I don’t delete the piece. Sometimes, I go back to it for ideas — transferring the underdeveloped thoughts into the new page. Then the wordsmithing begins — transforming it from something crude into something fully fleshed out.
Sometimes the words just needed to be hammered out into shape first then refined with the better quality details. It may take a few drafts but it gets there in the end.
As Bob Ross would say –
Over these past months, I’ve changed as a writer. I’m no longer forcing myself to write. The words flow freely.
As a person, the writing for 30 days forced me to evaluate myself, my life and my position in the world. It’s helped me heal. It’s helped me discover and uncover feelings and thoughts that I dared not think about.
I think it helped that I made my writing a sort of personal journal.
I’m not writing every day anymore but I’m still writing — more consistently than ever without it feeling forced.
And it was the 30 days of writing consecutively that jump started me.