I’m taking part in Marc’s 30 day writing challenge again. This year my goal is to write every day for at least 30 minutes with the aim of publishing something here once a week. I may also manage to publish some brief thoughts to marginalia more often.
Why are you doing this, again?
This post is as much a reminder for me as it is helpful for others who may be taking part in the challenge for the first time.
Writing regularly has helped me to understand myself better. I have clearer thoughts and I’m more able to communicate them to others. I still have a long way to go but these benefits are the best reasons to cultivate a daily writing habit.
I have found that I especially enjoy writing when there is no deadline or pressure. My most productive and happiest days are often those that started with writing.
Getting the most from the challenge
Write in the same place and at the same time each day. Writing is part of my morning routine and I’ll be using the challenge to renew and cement this habit. The real key to this is the evening routine of the night before. If I don’t go to bed and sleep early enough then the following day is often completely affected. Between a young family and running a business, it’s much harder to find 30 minutes of uninterrupted time if I get up late.
Each day I am aim to be in bed around 10pm so that I can read and relax for about 30 minutes before sleeping. I rise around 5:30am and meditate for 10 minutes before making coffee. Then I sit down at my desk, put on The Playlist, set my Focus timer for 30 minutes and start writing. Before finishing up I’ll decide or prepare what I’ll do in my next session. This way I won’t waste time procrastinating when I sit down tomorrow.
Coming up with topics and ideas to write about
My focus is currently twofold. I am studying stoicism and so a lot of my personal writing is on this subject. At the same time I’m also growing my business and I’m writing a lot of copy for the website over the coming months. I’ll be using my daily writing time to outline and write the content of these articles.
Protip - Always keep a notebook (digital or paper) within easy reach. You’ll find as you write more you’ll naturally generate more ideas so you need to be able to jot them down as they occur.
Be flexible. If the words aren’t coming, pick another topic and try again. With several pieces in progress and a list of ideas means I should find something to pique my interest.
I’ve got a Trello board which I use to track ideas that I’ve come up with for articles and what stage of development they’re in.
Each column is also a mode. It’s important to stay in one mode and not jump between research, writing and editing. It’s too easy to procrastinate and get distracted if you allow yourself to move between them. Each day I’m going to set my mode to be either writing or editing. Researching ideas are not part of my writing time and I can do that at other times.
Last year we set up a Slack group where we could interact with each other for guidance and encouragement. This was one of the best, and most enjoyable, aspects of the challenge and it’s since turned into a larger community. We’re doing the same this year and I highly recommend you join us.