May 2013: Start a Blog That Matters

When I started the Monthly Experiments Project, I didn’t think of it as starting a blog.

I wasn’t trying to attract readers or become popular or any of the other buzzword-reasons people might start a blog. For nine months, I did my own experiments, wrote about them, and told almost no one.

I wasn’t necessarily trying to keep this project a secret; it just wasn’t something I thought to share. I’m not the type to want a lot of attention.

I started this project with one big motivation: I was miserable, and I wanted to be happy.

That was as far as I thought about it at first. I just wanted to change my habits and make my life better.

I thought doing monthly experiments might help me get out of my rut and create some balance and joy in my life. So, I gave it a shot.

And it worked. My life started to improve immediately. 

stopped being a workaholic. In a single month, I stopped working late and the ripple effect changed my life. I started to feel happy again. I was working half as much, and earning double. My health and relationships and fitness improved. All from one experiment.

I had stumbled upon a framework for change that worked for me. And it was fun. It didn’t feel hard or grueling. It was exciting.

I realized that it was possible to create your ideal lifestyle by focusing on one habit at a time.

I started to tell a few friends, and they wanted to do their own experiments. Erin Brennan did an awesome yoga challenge and wrote about it on this blog. She told me it changed her life for the better. I can’t describe how happy that made me.

I started to see the bigger picture, the potential for this project to help other people. That insight turned this project into something that mattered to me.

I wanted another guinea pig.

A Life Changing Meeting

Every month, my friend Bradley Charbonneau and I get together in San Francisco, have lunch, and talk about life and business. We also talk about our old dreams and future ambitions.

Bradley’s dream was to be a writer. He lights up when he talks about it–you should see it. He even gave his dream an honest shot. After leaving the corporate world, he spent some time as a professional writer. He was damn good at it, too. Then, he started an amazing business that gives him and his family a great life. The writing dream was put on the shelf, but it didn’t die.

One day, we were having coffee and talking about writing. Of course Bradley lit up and got excited, and I asked him if he missed it. He said he did.

A part of him still had that dream of being a writer. So, we talked about what it meant to be a writer and he said something really brilliant.

“A writer is someone who writes.”

I loved that idea. You don’t need to get permission or have someone hire you to be a writer. If you want to write, you can just write.

So, I asked him a simple question that I now ask people all the time.

“What if you did it as an experiment?”

He liked that idea. So, in November 2012, we launched the Write Every Day experiment.

And Something Crazy Happened

All this pent up passion for writing just spilled out of him. For the first time in years, he wrote every day, and he was loving it. So, when the monthly experiment ended, he kept going.

He eventually wrote 100 blog posts in 100 days! That’s an amazing accomplishment, but he was just getting started. He hit 200 days in a row last month and he’s not slowing down.

Bradley credits his new writing habit as the catalyst for starting a new business, shifting his priorities, and falling in love with writing again.

I watched the whole thing happen, and I’m so happy for him.

He says his life is different now, and it all started with a simple question.

If there’s something you’ve always wanted to do, why not try it as an experiment? – Click to tweet

Many of you have emailed me with similar stories about your own experiments. You’ve shown me the true power of that idea, and changed the way I think about the Monthly Experiments Project. You’ve made it matter, and made me want to use this project to help more people.

So, as an experiment, I’m going to invest in the Monthly Experiments Project. Specifically, in the months of May and June 2013, I’m going to be spending at least one hour per day turning this into a blog that matters.

I have an ambitious to-do list. Here’s a little sneak peek:

  • I have dozens of draft posts that I want to finish and publish, including several experiments I never announced, including Living Car Free, and a 4-Day Work Week.
  • I’m going to organize an archive of past experiments that you can easily browse through.
  • I’m going to move to a proper web host so this site will load faster.
  • I’m going to redesign the site so it looks and works a little better.
  • I’m going to switch to a better email provider so I can connect with the amazing community of monthly experimenters and learn how to help you better.
  • I’m also going to go through a 13 week course on blogging (Start a Blog That Matters) to help refine the way I do things.

I’ll be honest about the struggles, the processes, and the results.

If you have your own project (it doesn’t have to be a blog), I invite you to join me. Invest yourself in the things that matter to you.

If you do have a blog, or you want to start one, it’s worth checking out the SABTM course and following along with me.

Help Shape This Movement

The biggest change in this blog is that it went from being about me to being about you. So, I want to know what you think.

If you have ideas on how to make this a better place, leave a comment below.

Have an experiment idea? Or want to share your own experiment results? Do it.

If you’ve wanted to try an experiment, but aren’t sure how to get started, let me know. I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for being a part of this adventure. I’m really excited to share what’s coming next.

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Comments

  1. “A writer is someone who writes.” Love it!

    I think this site is a great idea and I’m interested to follow along with the experiments, even if only to get ideas for my own monthly challenges. (This month = gluten-free… aside from pizza and beer it hasn’t been too hard, though I’ve cheated a couple times too.)

    Keep up the good work,

    Nick

    Also curious to hear about your experience with Corbett’s course. I’ve heard good things but haven’t pulled the trigger.

  2. I love the challenge to write everyday. I’ve started this experiment 11 days back and so far I’ve only missed one day. What makes it work so well is that I only commit to writing for 5 minutes. The only requirement is that I write for an audience, so journaling doesn’t count.

    It’s a lot of fun and super inspiring. Plus I have more blog posts ready than ever! The biggest benefit is probably that it’s shifting my identity: I feel like a writer now. Bam. :)

    • Thanks Iris!

      I love the approach of committing to a small action. Glad to hear your momentum is carrying you along. Also, you’re a great writer.

    • Wow, Iris, this hits home in a powerful way, “I feel like a writer now.” You said it’s a shift in your identity. I’m not sure things get more important than that. You could make more money, you could get a zillion retweets, you could win the Pulitzer. But a shift in your identity? That’s the hard part. And you did it.

      You say you “feel like a writer now,” but here’s the secret (I won’t tell): you are a writer now.

  3. Awesome John! Look forward to seeing what magic you create here.

  4. Great words in here. Small actions create big life changes. Yet our minds create assumptions that whisper in our ears the only way big changes occur are through massive and nearly insurmountable life changes. Small consistent decisions equal big change. And through the lens of experiments, we have no excuse not to try. Love this! Thanks John!

  5. Great to see you back in the saddle John! I’ll be watching this month’s progress closely :) If I can help in any way with the challenge, I’d be happy to.

  6. Hey John!

    Thanks for the inspiration to choose small, bite-sized chunks and put them into action. I especially need the accountability so posting to Fizzle keeps me in check.

    Go, Bradley, go! Sounds like the two of you are kindred spirits. Btw–I know a wonderful guy who will get your site running faster if you don’t want to hassle with changing hosts. And knowing you, you wouldn’t dare put your precious words on a godaddy server, would you? ;)

    Now where’s the swear words…? :P

  7. Hey there!

    It’s interesting how much I can relate to what you have written even when the reason for the project may differ a little. At first it was enough when I wrote all my stories in a private diary, but as time passed by the urge of writing couldn’t be satisfied anymore with a simple lined book. The thought that my stories could help people, like the stories on the internet had helped me on my path, chased me since the beginning of the year and so on the 1st may I made the decision to follow that calling. Let’s say that it is my little experiment, my project and I actually can feel already some differences. Somehow my inner tension calmed down and I feel more alive. Like you I’m not trying to attract readers or become popular, but I want simply share my discoveries and how I see the world. Even when I can inspire or help only one person with my writing that would be enough for me :)

    The little quote “A writer is someone who writes” really is powerful. And I must admit that as simple as this sentence is it gives one the confidence that may be missing sometimes while writing.
    Well, now I’m going to read your “Write every day” post (and some others that I have opened in my tabs) and I think I’m going to accept that challenge by making my writing a habit, not only a weekend affair :P

    So, I think I will be around more often, btw. if it didn’t come across: I really like your experiments :D

    Have a nice day
    Thinuil

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