I’m only at the halfway point, but this experiment has already had a huge impact on my life, and on this blog. It’s also had an impact on some of you…
I’ve learned that all of these experiments have unexpected consequences. Little things I didn’t even think about ahead of time become a reality. Sometimes those consequences are frustrating, sometimes they’re wonderful. The surprise is part of the fun.
Why I’m Doing This
I started the Write Every Day experiment for two main reasons:
- To have my ideal lifestyle, I know I have to create more than I consume.
- I wanted to create a habit of writing more often.
Even at the halfway point, it’s clear that those things are starting to happen and I feel great about that.
There are three unexpected things that have happened that might be even more important.
When I started this experiment, somewhere deep inside, I wanted to imagine myself as a writer. Not just someone who writes stuff, but a Writer. Capital W. A professional–whatever that means. I don’t know where that fantasy comes from, but it’s a romantic idea, isn’t it? John Muldoon, Writer.
I don’t know what a professional writer does all day, but I know they probably don’t suck at writing. So, yeah, that’d be my first step then. Stop sucking so damn much at writing. Um, how am I supposed to do that, exactly?
Take a writing class? Ugh, maybe, but then I’d have to admit that I’m not already awesome. I suck at admitting stuff like that–except on the internet, apparently.
What if i just wrote more often? Practiced? Hmm, that sounds less embarrassing. It even sounds like it could work. I could call it an experiment. That way, I can’t fail at it. It’s just an experiment. For science!
So, did it work? Maybe, it’s hard to tell.
Have you ever tried to start an old car? Or even just a car that has sat un-driven for a while. There’s this thing that happens. You’ll know exactly what I mean. You sit in the driver’s seat and put the key in the ignition. You don’t turn the key right away–can’t rush these things. You sort of pause and take a breath. You might even think to yourself, “please start.” Then you turn the key and hold it. And listen. And hope. And wait.
Then you hear it. The starter motor. It creaks to life and makes a sound like it’s trying to wake up and spring into action. It’s saying, “whoa! I didn’t see you there. What are you doing to me? Oh, right, starting. Um, gimme a second. Ouch, I’m cold and sore and stiff and old and out of shape. I don’t know if I can. Of course I can. Ouch. Don’t rush me. Almost there. Wait for it…”
You can hear it trying to start. It’s not alive, but it’s trying to be. Time seems to slow down in those moments, with you sitting there, holding tension on the key, maybe pumping the gas pedal a little bit. Not breathing. Just waiting and hoping. Then you hear the sound start to change. You aren’t sure at first, but it sounds like the car’s heart is starting to beat again. Was that the start of a rumble? Can’t be sure yet, but it’s a good sign. You crack a quarter smile.
That’s where I’m at with my writing. I’ve sat down, put the key in the ignition and taken that one last breath before I find out whether I have it in me or not.
Some days, the car starts right up. I find my flow. Today it roared to life. Some days it’s more tenuous. Some days it sits there dead.
If you have an old car, you know what you need to do. You need to start it up more often. Drive it. Don’t let it sit there for so damn long!
Writing is the same way. Just sit down, take a breath and turn the key. Do it often.
By The Numbers
I like to keep track of things. I like graphs and charts and tables and numbers.
Numbers can tell stories that words cannot.
This blog is pretty new. Before this month, I hadn’t told many people it even existed. There was nothing much to see here, so there weren’t many people coming to see it.
That’s changing. People I don’t even know are talking about it on Twitter and Facebook and leaving me comments. Those comments are like presents on Christmas morning. I love to go open them up.
This graph is a comparison between the first half of this month and the last half of last month. In 15 days:
- I’ve spent a total of 24 hours writing!
- I’ve written more than 10,000 words.
- My traffic has doubled.
- Pageviews have tripled.
- Time on site is up 500%.
- Yesterday was my first day with more than 100 people on the site.
Truthfully, these are small milestones. It’s easy to double your traffic when you hardly have any. I’m just happy that the graphs are all moving in the right direction.
It’s not just about numbers though. The story they tell is more important. The numbers suggest that this project can have an impact on people. Doing Monthly Experiments
has changed is changing my life for the better. I want this project to have that same impact on other people, and I’m starting to see how that can happen.
Look What You’ve Done!
This experiment is the first one that some of you have committed to doing along with me. I can’t explain how happy it makes me to have some of you doing this stuff too. I don’t think of it as “you joining me” but as “us doing this together.”
It’s amazing what a difference it makes. Doing an experiment alone is like wandering through the wilderness. Even when you’re on course, it’s easy to convince yourself that you’re lost. Doing this together feels like an expedition. We’re explorers, together. A team, with a plan. It feels fantastic.
Oh, and your results are absolutely blowing me away.
I want to highlight one expedition member in particular, Bradley Charbonneau from Pass The Sour Cream.
Bradley took the Write Every Day challenge one step further than I did. He’s committed to publishing something every day. I don’t have the guts, or the skills, to do that, but it really inspired me that Bradley did.
When we talked earlier this month, I got the sense that Bradley’s motivation to write was different than mine. I wanted to create a new habit. He wanted to rediscover an old one. Bradley’s been a proper Writer for years. Capital W. Professional, talented, published a book. He’s the real deal, but he wasn’t writing as much as he used to, as much as he wanted to. He said it best.
I suffer from the typical writer’s block. I see a blank screen and want to run. I think of editing some old work and cringe. I’ve been wanting to write on a regular basis for, oh, a decade. Not ten days, not ten months, but ten years. When oh when will that day come where I learn to write on a regular basis? – Bradley
Well, he’s doing it now. Not just writing every day, but publishing every day. Some of it is brilliant stuff, too. Here are a few of my favorites:
- If I don’t know where I’m going, how will I know when I arrive?
- Where does creativity come from?
- Change of Scenery*
- Do you know your inner clock?
*my personal favorite
Even though I’m really happy with my own results so far, I’m much more excited about what you’re doing with this. I know many of you have joined our little expedition, and I plan to share some of what you’ve been writing in the next update.
If you’re doing the Write Every Day challenge, leave a note in the comments and let me know how it’s going so far. Feel free to share a link to one or two of the things you’ve written this month. :)