The 90 day writing challenge
Part of mastering anything is to take regular, consistent action. If you want to get fit, you exercise on a regular basis.
Regular action not only helps you improve, it also helps form a habit. When exercising, I have had the most success by doing it on a particular day of the week. For example, I run every Wednesday and Saturday. Habits create regular action. Regular action creates success.
Writing is no different.
You have probably heard of the term content marketing. You may not have heard of a variation of that term, education marketing. This is where you create education based content and it becomes a powerful marketing tool. I educate with my Drupal tutorials. And it is the only way that I promote and sell my book (I don't have a publisher and am not listed in the Kindle store). People read one of my Drupal tutorials and realise that I have expertise in the area. They might buy the book right away, or they might join my newsletter. Either way, the tutorial is the first step in establishing trust. If you are a freelancer, this can be a great way to promote yourself to potential clients and build trust early on.
What is the one thing that I have really sucked at in my writing? Keeping it consistent. I am supposed to be writing and publishing to my blog and newsletter at least once a week. At the moment, I am averaging two per month. That's only 50% of what I should be doing!
Part of the problem is that I am very busy with client work. And re-aligning my client services business. So I think - I can wait another day before I write. And another day. And another. Next thing, 2 weeks have gone by and I have not written anything.
Author of Double your Freelance Rate, Brennan Dunn, has become a bootstrapped business success story. As part of a case study for a conference talk I did on self publishing, I asked: What is the most important piece of advice you'd give to someone who is thinking about writing a book?
Brennan's answer is:
Write consistently and constantly, even if the words won't end up in a book / blog post / anywhere public.
Even if you don't want to write a book, this is still great advice.
How do you achieve consistency?
Write. Every. Single. Damn. Day.
I might not publish everything that I write. In fact, I shouldn't. But I should form the habit.
So this is the challenge: write every day for the next 90 days.
After the 90 days is up, I will see where I am at and hopefully continue.
When to Write
I am going to do my writing first thing in the morning. The only thing I am going to do before writing is to make a cup of tea. I have actually done this part before (but not every day). I am not a morning person at all, but I do find writing first thing to be the best time. It sets the tone for the rest of your day. Before you do anything else, you have created something from nothing. There are less distractions. And your mind is fresh and not cluttered with the goings-on of daily life.
No minimum word count
Some people set a daily minimum word count. Authors and bloggers Nathan Barry and Chris Guillebeau write 1000 words per day. Nathan talks about the habit of writing 1000 words per day in his latest podcast episode.
If you were to write 1000 words a day and publish even 50% of them for the world to see, I guarantee that your life will be completely different in 1 year
I am not going to set a minimum. I am more interested in the simple habit of sitting down to write. I don't want anything to get in the way of that. If I am incredibly busy, I might think there is no way I can write 1000 words right now. But I'll always have time to write a sentence or two. And chances are, once I have written that sentence, I'll carry on writing.
Even though I don't have a minimum word count, I do want to know how much I am writing each day. I write in a web app called Draft, which automatically tracks how much I write each day. It has other great tools, like the best time to write. But the tool to track progress doesn't really matter. A spreadsheet, or even pen and paper, will do. Tools don't matter (much), habits do.
Here are the rules for the challenge:
- For the next 90 days, write every day
- The writing must be in the form of blog posts, articles, guides. Emails don't count.
- Not everything has to be published, drafts are fine.
- The challenge is for 90 consecutive days and that include weekends. But if you decide you want the weekends off, that is fine.
- The challenge starts on Monday 9th January 2017 and every Monday after that. You can join at any time.
Do you want to get better at writing consistently? Join in on the 90 day challenge!