November 2012: Write Every Day

Write Every Day

I had two big epiphanies last month. One of them led me to write a post called Make Habits Your Goal.

It turned out to be one of the most important things I’ve ever written.

It changed the way I thought about the Monthly Experiments Project, and the response from people who have read it has been amazing.

At the end of the post, I made a suggestion:

If there is a circumstance in your life that you want to change, instead of setting a goal, try creating a habit. Do it as an experiment.
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In November, I’m going to take my own advice.

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Finding My Flow

Write Every DayIt’s 9:00 pm on the third day of my write every day challenge.

So far, the challenge is actually going pretty well.

My first day, I wrote for two and a half hours, which was probably a new record for me.

The second day, I woke up early and wrote for another two hours. I was feeling pretty great, but it was Friday and I had a lot of work to do. So, I went into my office and got a late start on my “real” work day.

I was catching up on email when something weird happened.

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The Two Most Important Rules For Entrepreneurs

I’m 29 years old. I was 19 the last time I had a “regular job.”

Over the last ten years, in one form or another, I’ve been an entrepreneur.

I’ve had failures and successes. More failures, if I’m honest. I feel lucky to have had success, too. I’ve learned a lot from both.

For the past 8 years, I’ve been a strategic advisor to other entrepreneurs. In that time, I’ve learned one of the simple truths of business.

Most businesses, regardless of what they make or sell, actually do the same thing.

Businesses help people in exchange for money. That’s it. We all help people. This is as true for the chef who cooks your dinner as it is for the mobile app that helped you find his restaurant.

We all have to be helpful to succeed, but being helpful isn’t enough. Helpfulness is simply the price of admission.

If you want to build an extremely successful business, you have to do two extra things.

Here are the two simple rules I teach my clients, and try to follow in my own businesses.

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15 Days of Writing Every Day

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:

  1. To have my ideal lifestyle, I know I have to create more than I consume.
  2. 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.

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Monthly Experiments in 4 Words

I just read a post James Buckhouse wrote on Medium called “Tell a four-word story.” It really made me think about writing.

A four-word story is harder to write than a 400-word story, but it’s much more valuable.

  • It’s easier to digest.
  • It forces you to get to the heart of what you want to communicate.

I did an interview last week about the Monthly Experiments Project. It was fun, but  I rambled a little more than I’d like to. I’m going to practice being succinct.

So here’s my four-word story about the Monthly Experiments Project:

Evolve intentionally every month.

That’s the shortest summary of what this project is about. I hope it helps you evolve your own life as much as it’s evolved mine.

Share your own four-word story in the comments.

April 2014: Write Every Day – Round 2

These experiments are like little sparks.

Sometimes they grow into a roaring fire.

Write Every Day

I’m writing this with a giant smile on my face, and it’s all because of a little book I’m reading.

One of my friends wrote it with his kids; and if that wasn’t adorable enough, it’s a really entertaining story full of fun twists and turns. It’s called “Li & Lu and the Secret of Kite Hill.”

But it isn’t just the story that put a smile on my face, it’s something bigger than that. You see, my friend Bradley was once a professional writer. Ten years ago, he was living his dream of being a writer and he published a book.

But then something happened. Bradley decided to do the “practical” thing and start a web design business instead. His business has been a success, and he’s built a great life for his family. But it was clear that his old dream of being a writer was still gnawing at him.

Back in November 2012, Bradley and I were talking at a cafe in San Francisco. We were talking about what it meant to be a writer, and he said something really fantastic.

He said, “a writer is someone who writes.”

So, I decided to host a monthly experiment of writing every day. A lot of you joined me and wrote every day that November. Bradley joined me too. I think we even shook on it, like we were making some kind of promise to follow through.

About a week into the experiment, I talked to Bradley and could immediately tell that something was different. He was almost giddy. He had so much energy. Ok, maybe he’s usually like that, but I could tell he was turning back into a writer. He said he felt like “a writing machine” … he was unstoppable. Literally.

My challenge to myself was to write for an hour a day for one month. It was fantastic. I felt like I became a better writer, more confident, and even a better thinker. But Bradley took it to another level. He published something every day for the whole month. Then he kept going, publishing something new for 100 days in a row. Then 200 and 300 and 400 and 500 days in a row. He’s got a list of all the things he’s published since he started his amazing streak, and it’s currently at 551 days in a row!

I think it’s fair to say that Bradley is a writer again. Even if it’s not his main business, he’s still living his dream. It’s a part of who he is.

Back in February, he decided to focus his writing habit toward writing a new book with his two sons acting as co-authors an illustrators…  

As of today, it’s only three chapters, but the boys are actually helping me write it and give me ideas for what might happen next. Two boys, their father, and their dog are just walking home from school when their ball rolls into a cave in a public park. We’ll see what happens.

But the absolute lightning bolt of joy came when my 7-year old, after I read chapter three aloud to them (as well as my visiting family) said, “Keep going. I want to know what happens next!”

And they did keep going. The book came out yesterday, 10 years to the day after his first book.

Sometimes people ask me why I do the Monthly Experiments Project. Stories like this are the answer!

Bradley went from wishing he was a writer to being one. He created an unstoppable habit and published a lot of great things and worked on a really fun creative project with his kids.

It all started with one month, and I’m doing it again this month, and you’re invited to join me.

Join The Challenge: Write Every Day

If you want to create a writing habit, you should join me in this challenge.

You can structure your own experiment however you want. 

You can write for a certain period of time per day, like an hour. Or aim for a certain number of words, or you can be like Bradley and actually publish something new every day. It doesn’t matter what goal you set for yourself. In fact, it’s better to start with an easy goal than a hard one.

You could write in a private journal if you want to, or work on a book, or a blog. It’s up to you.

My goal is to write for at least one hour per day. I don’t have to publish what I write. It doesn’t matter how many words it is, or what it’s about.

My goal is simply to strengthen my writing muscles and create a consistent habit.

This experiment is really about discipline, creativity, fear and courage, setting goals, and improving your habits. For me, this is about being a better version of myself. It might sound strange, but writing can do that if you let it.

This is about making sparks for 31 days, to see what catches fire.

I hope you decide to join me! Click here to tweet if you do.

1,000 Posts in 1,000 Days

I’ve been excited about sharing this post for a long time. I didn’t write it though, except for this little introduction. It’s a guest post from my friend Bradley Charbonneau, and it’s been a long time coming.

I woke up this morning and thought about how I could explain the way it feels to publish this… because, it’s a pretty big deal. It’s basically a superhero story. Basically.

I thought about just telling you the story, trying to sum up the way it started, with three guys talking in a cafe in downtown San Francisco back in November of 2012.

Bradley runs a web development company and is a sort of business partner to me, but I always knew he had a secret past life as a writer. Sometimes he would talk about his writing days, about magazine articles and publishing his first book a decade earlier, about that other book, the “real” one in the drawer that just needed to be dusted off. He always lit up when he talked about writing, about how he’d like to do it more, get back into it and be a writer again. Most people stop there. They reminisce, talk about what they’d “like” to do differently, but nothing really changes.

Sitting in that cafe, Bradley said something really important. “A writer is someone who writes.”

I was really excited about doing monthly experiments to create new habits, so, I challenged him to write every day for a month to see what happened. He said he’d do one better, he’d write AND publish something every day for a month. We left the cafe and he got to work.

“So here we go, it’s November 1, 2012. I’m hoping, I’m even smiling to myself (no, really) that I’ll look back on this day with pride and say that was the day that it all began. Whew, exhilarating.” – Bradley Charbonneau, the unstoppable writing machine.

I honestly don’t know how to describe what happened next because it’s hard for me to believe it, but it’s one of the best things I’ve ever had the privilege of watching. Bradley wrote and published something every day for a month. I saw him start to change right away. He was excited and energetic. He’d say things like, “I’m feeling like a writer again” and “writing is bringing me closer to my kids” and “I’m falling back in love with writing.” He didn’t stop when the month was over.

He kept going.

He wrote and published something every day for 100 days, then 200, then 300, then a year, then 500 days. He wrote and published a book with his kids on the 10-year anniversary of publishing his first book. Then he did it again a year later. He became unstoppable. Today is his 1,000th post in a row. I asked him to publish it here.

And so, here it is… [Read more…]