30/30

Phew. 30 blog posts in as many days. There were a few close calls; days when I thought I’d slip up. But I’m glad I persevered.

30DWC has been incredibly rewarding, in no small part because of the Slack community that has grown from the challenge. But it’s also been harder than I expected.

To wrap up, I thought I’d share some things I learnt from the experience.

1) The importance of deadlines
I often end up writing my newsletter last minute. I haven’t changed since my schools days, when I’d be frantically working on my coursework the night before it was due in. Writing daily posts was no different. I just had daily deadlines, rather than twice a month.

The constraint of a daily deadline helped eliminate writer’s block and churn out more than I thought I was capable of. There wasn’t time to procrastinate. I simply had to run with my least bad idea.

2) Connecting the dots
I seemed to be coming up with more ideas than usual during the challenge. One reason for this could simply be that I knew I needed things to write about, so I was always on the look out for a new idea. But I also think the daily ritual of writing and thinking allowed me to juggle several ideas at the same time. I was coming up with new ideas by connecting the dots. I fear that when I stop the daily ritual, I’ll drop the balls I’m juggling.

3) Commit to an idea
I have a Trello board with 50 ideas on and I could probably come up with another 50 ideas with relative ease. The difficulty wasn’t coming up with ideas, it was committing to one. Occasionally I’d start writing an article on a subject I wasn’t committed to or I hadn’t fully formed an opinion on. These are still sitting in my drafts folder. It wasn’t until I committed to an idea that I could write passionately about the subject.

4) Building a community around a theme
A wonderful Slack community has grown as a by-product of 30DWC. I had started the Slack community around 2 months prior to 30DWC, but it’s only really taken off in the past month. I attribute this to building the community around a common theme: writing. Previously, the common topic was “web stuff” which was too broad. The writing theme really brought the group together.

5) Practice for 30 consecutive days
I can’t remember the last time I intentionally practiced something for 30 days straight. It was probably when I would play guitar when I was younger. It served as a great reminder of how powerful it is to practice something every day. I intend to continue this with monthly themes.

6) Group accountability
I’m fairly certain that if I’d have set myself a 30 day writing goal in solitude, I wouldn’t have got this far. Publicly committing to the goal, along with the Slack community, helped provide motivation I needed.

7) Visual progress
I marked each post with a cross on my whiteboard. It was encouraging to see the crosses accumulating and the remaining days shrinking. Visually seeing progress definitely helped with motivation, too.

8) Use peak brain time
Psychology professor Dan Ariely says our brain is at its peak in the first 2 hours you’re awake. I found this to be true. For most of the challenge, I was rising at 5.30am and writing. On good days, I was still writing past 8am. On other days, I couldn’t get into a groove. I found writing far more difficult when I let the writing slip into the evening. Most of the tasks I do on a daily basis – email, phone calls with clients, admin, accounts, etc.– don’t require peak brain power. Writing, however, does.

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This entry is part of the 30 Day Writing Challenge, where I'm trying to write and publish every day during April. All my posts in this challenge can be found here.

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