Heard Ya Missed Me, Well I’m Back

One year ago I limped away from blogging. It was less a decision and more part of a process to focus on writing. My last post essayed the dilemma. It wasn’t a case of writer’s block. It was a case of publisher’s block. While I was writing every single day, I wasn’t publishing. I took much of 2015 and all of 2016 to focus on writing, not publishing. I wanted to create a powerful writing habit and discover what I wanted to write about without the need to publish.

When I first set up this wordpress blog my hope was to showcase my expertise on all things content and marketing. It wasn’t what I wanted to write about, but more what I thought I should write about. The blog (and my writing) meandered and sputtered. There would be a flurry of posts followed by a drought. My momentum and dedication waxed and waned. I needed to decide what I wanted out of blogging. Rather than forcing myself to write so I could have something to publish, why not focus on writing, and writing only. Forget publishing and write.

This process began in early 2015 as I sought resources and prompts to encourage regular writing. I started with One Month Writing from the great folks at OneMonth and saw my productivity increase, but not quite as much as wanted. I had spent decades thinking about writing and rarely setting pen to paper. A half measure wasn’t enough.

Then I found the key

574-day-streak

One of the resources recommended in One Month Writing was 750words. The idea is simple. You sign up and write 750 words every day. Yes. Every. Single. Day. Once you hit 750 words the site pops up an alert. You can keep writing or save.

750-words-badges

There are badges and plenty of data to encourage a daily habit. I signed up in February of 2015 and have written every single day, except for one. With 692 total days and 574 days straight (and counting) I’ve written 540,000 words. That’s enough to parcel out into 6 or 7 short novels.

750-words-todays-entry

The positives resulting from this process have been remarkable and rewarding. I’ve broken it down into 7 powerful benefits.

1 Creating a habit – I set a goal to write more. I had the motivation, but needed to gather momentum. The hook of checking each day off on 750 words gave me the impetus to write. As the days added up I had the weight of each successive day behind me pushing me forward. Today, I must write. It is what I do.

2 Discipline – I have missed one day out of 691. I write when I am tired, uninspired and just plain sick of writing. inspiration doesn’t just happen. It comes with discipline and hard work. Often I start with nothing and just write. As my words become sentences and then paragraphs, an idea will form. 30 or 40 minutes later I walk away with a polished essay, a rough draft or a handful of baby sketches.

3 Focus – Writing requires time and few interruptions. i must put down the phone and ignore the bleeps, buzzes, notifications and digital distractions that carve my time into tiny slivers. Complete thoughts demand undivided attention. The increased focus plays out in many other parts of my life and I am much more present and available than when I started.

Organization – My brain fires at hundreds of miles per second. The process of writing down and sorting out ideas gives them a framework my brain can’t. My mind may be the inbox, but I must process. Do I save for later? Act now? Delete? Writing out my thoughts clears out the clutter and frees my mind to focus on what needs to get done.

5 Creativity – In the beginning I struggled to find writing topics. Today I keep a file for future posts. Every day I write down 4 or 5 possible ideas that I want to explore. I dig deeper on past ideas and spread my ideas wider to satisfy my curiosity and explore new topics.

Rough Drafts –  I can test drive ideas and beat them into shape. Writing daily means I often revisit and rewrite the same ideas repeatedly. Rough drafts are often terrible, but they lay out the idea so I can refine and focus it. Repetition allows me to dig deeper and find the essence of what I want to capture with my words.

7 Catharsis – Perhaps the most surprising result of creating a daily writing habit is the ability to toss out all the garbage. The negative thoughts pile up. The recurring mental conversations about unresolved personal issues create too much distracting chatter. Writing shovels all that crap up and out. It is the ability to spring clean on a daily basis.

Now I am ready to make publishing my new habit for 2017. It worked for writing. Let’s see if I can do the same with posting here on my blog.

Heard ya missed me, well I’m back.

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