Over the past few years I’ve had many failed attempts at building a regular habit of writing. This current experiment which started on September 8 has been a bit more fruitful so far. I have been writing an article a day for the past 30 weekdays (including Saturday as a weekday). The average number of words per article has been a little over 600, with the longest article having 1341 words, and the shortest one having 199. I found it rather insightful to reflect on these numbers.
A couple of friends have asked me how I have been able to write articles every single day. I do not wish to repeat myself. I had earlier written an article on the practice of taking notes. Today I updated it and added some screenshots and images of my note-taking practice that aids me in my writing. If you would like to start writing more, I highly recommend reading that article. In this article I want to talk about the few things I have learnt over the past 30 days of writing:
The discipline of writing made me more organized in how I took notes
Although I said I wouldn’t talk about my process of writing, this is a benefit that I did enjoy because I wrote articles on my blog every single day. I had to take notes systematically in order to ensure that I would be able to find them at the right time when I needed to. There is still room for growth when it comes to this, but when I look back over the past few years, this past one month of writing everyday has helped me develop quite a lot in the area of being organized with my notes.
The discipline of writing enabled me to read and learn more
The more that I wrote, the sooner I ran out of things to talk about. This forced me in a sense to read more so that I may know more. This article by Anne-Laure Le Cunff of Ness labs was a huge source of inspiration to me. Similar to the author, I too decided to focus on getting out a first version of an article before worrying about the feedback or its imperfections. I would also take notes every time I thought of an idea, or as I was reading an article or a book. But ultimately I had to read, read, and read some more. Over the past 30 days alone I have learnt about various things ranging from the information-gap hypothesis to Parkinson’s law. Moreover, as I observed in an earlier article, articulation is key to learning. Writing articles, therefore, helped solidify a lot of what I learnt.
The discipline of writing made me more proactive and less reactive
One of the first productivity or self-help books I read was “The 7 habits of highly effective teenagers” by Sean Covey. A friend had lent it to me back when I was in class 11. I don’t remember much from that time but the one important lesson I never forget was that I need to be more proactive and less reactive. I had always struggled to put that into practice. Over the past one month of regular writing, I became a little more proactive in two ways.
Although an area still very much at work, I became a lot more intentional in what I was consuming. Because I had to think about whether reading a particular article would help me learn something new, or whether it would help me write better, I gradually began to reduce a lot of media that wasn’t helping me. I had to take back control of my media diet proactively rather than merely react to whatever the social media algorithm threw at me. My time on Instagram significantly reduced. I became more intentional in who I followed and what type of content I engaged with. This also helped me find some amazing people on Twitter (who I have started following).
The second very-closely related area was in terms of thinking more proactively about things within my circle of influence rather than worrying about things that I had no control over, and becoming miserable as a result. In a video by CGP Grey titled, 7 Ways to Maximize Misery, he talks about how “being well-informed while doing nothing” is a great way to maximize misery. This is something that once again my social media use would fuel. Earlier I would spend hours and hours just reading comments on political posts on Instagram and Twitter, and feeling generally upset throughout the day. As a result of starting out on this journey of writing an article every day, I have been able to avoid that because I literally do not have time to doomscroll or rage-scroll and still be able to write a good article and fulfill my other obligations.
Consistency beats perfection
In conclusion, let me point you to (and remind myself of) an interesting article by Steph Smith. How to Be Great? Just Be Good, Repeatably!