Reflecting on more than 100,000 words later
and 100+ published stories
On January 4th, I decided that I was going to write every day — not because I needed a new year’s resolution, but because I felt the internal need to put it down on paper.
While I didn’t explicitly say ‘every day’ in my public declaration, in my head, it’s currently framed as an every day activity.
I didn’t know exactly what I was embarking on when I wrote the piece, only that I wanted to do more and be more of what I am currently. It’s pretty vague but has a sense of substance attached to it — a sort of personal vision/manifesto. Then a reader defined it for me in one of her comments on a completely different and unrelated story— she called it taking a depth year.
I started writing with no goals. I knew I just needed to keep writing.
Writing ordered my thoughts and uncovered certain bits and parts of me that I didn’t know existed, the long-forgotten feelings and desires towards people and things.
Writing pulled out words and sentences I didn’t know existed in the depths of my mind, uncovering deep contemplations from lost moments, and thoughts that contradicted and complemented each other.
I started writing about my goals, my hopes, and my dreams.
Then I grew bored with that and started writing about the successes of others. I binged on Bill Gates, on Warren Buffett, on millionaires and billionaires, and their extraordinarily ordinary lives. I studied them until a turning point came — a sort of mental epiphany, a sudden breaking of imaginary chains that I clung onto for so long.
And at that moment, I started to create, what I feel like, is original content.
I stopped writing around 2015 when I moved out. I suffered from writer’s burnout.
I had been chasing fame and fortune — only to discover that flames that are externally fuel don’t last. I went out drowning myself in work, which quickly became the excuse for everything I neglected to nurture.
The writer in me sat in her little corner and waited for the right moment to emerge. She came out during a time when I was emotionally vulnerable. She came out during a time when I was completely burnt out from lying to myself. She came out during a time when I needed someone to help order my thoughts and knew that a therapist wouldn’t be much help.
I wasn’t depressed. Or perhaps I was. Either way, I knew I just had a lot of repressed words because I stopped nurturing myself.
The top writer tags started to roll in near the end of January — less than 30 days after I started writing consistently again and right before my mental break.
It started with Productivity, quickly followed by Entrepreneurship. Those tags didn’t surprise me much. I had gotten them before in the past.
Then Inspiration added itself to the list and I remember sitting in front of the computer, blinking, and thinking — what?
It made no sense. Turns out it was this story that contributed to the unsuspecting accolade.
I wrote it as a retaliation piece towards all the Kon Marie stories that were in mass circulation at the time. I didn’t want to go with the flow. I’ve read her book and her methods, while well-meaning, would never work for me — not in the manner that she’s proposing.
I made no direct reference to Kon Marie and wrote it from the perspective of my current situation. A large group of people found it inspirational enough to send claps along my way. Around that time, I started writing from an authentic space in my head and it was around that time I realized that I was not alone in my thoughts — that I’m not a strange weirdo but someone who shared in the collective experiences of others.
When I started writing, I knew that I had to make time. People often look at me and think you’ve got plenty of time! — all because I’m currently a stay at home mom.
But I’ve got dreams too — and things to do. The child hates it when I sit in front of the computer. Then there’s the learning part of my personal vows to do more and be more.
It didn’t take me long to notice that they’re just excuses. Writing doesn’t have to take long — just as long as I write something. So I do it during the baby’s day nap time — which isn’t that long at all.
The time constraint helped me focus and pre-order my thoughts before I had to sit down and write something coherent. It’s hard to write when you haven’t prepped your brain for it. During my ‘down time’ with the child, I think. I run sentences through my head and ideas past a fine tooth comb. I examine my biases and prejudices. I lay them out before me and then break them into tiny little pieces — so that when the time comes to write about it, I have all that I need ready.
It’s easy to write with a fake voice — to pretend to be an expert at something or write in a tone that mimics other popular writers — but it’s not sustainable. We can only play pretend for so long before it all falls apart.
That was me back in my early 20s. As I near the beginning of my 30s, striving for authenticity is now my main goal.
And it is this quest that’s helped me produce content almost every single day — that and the routine of writing at around the same time every day under the same time pressures.
Some stories I’ve written have exploded while others sit in obscurity. Over time, I’ve learned to stop caring about the stats. While they’re nice to have when people read your stuff, I think it’s just one big distraction from why I’m writing.
I’m writing to learn about myself and the things I’ve decided to pursue. While it’s nice to have an audience, the one person that really matters is me. If it’s not adding value for me, then chances are, it’s not adding value to my readers.
I’ve tried long stints in writing before — only to discover that I would do alternating months of consecutive days. It turns out that my mindset was wrong. I was thinking too far ahead in the future.
When I missed or skipped a day, it would mess up the entire month and I would produce nothing at all.
Then I decided to change my mindset.
Writing consistently is a long game and if I wanted to write every day, for the rest of my days, I would need to think of a better metric for myself. I’m a sucker for metrics. I like challenges. But sometimes when you start failing at a challenge, it can be enough to deter you from continuing.
I changed from the arbitrary 30 days goal to a better than yesterday method. 30 days initially seemed like a good idea until I realized that the inherited informercial trial time frame is not really the place to base something I want to do for a very long time.
There are no rules — only that I be a better writer than yesterday.
And if I can’t do that, then I try again the next day without any excuses.