January 19, 2021

What I’ve Learned From Failing at My Goal of Publishing Everyday

Towards the end of December I set myself a challenge of publishing something everyday for 30 days - this was a big change from my previous habit of posting approximately never. I knew it was ambitious, but I really wanted to get out of a perfectionist mindset and put something out there even if it was short or imperfect.

I started on Dec 27 and kept it up until Jan 10, so despite technically failing, I’m actually pretty pleased - 15 days! A few reasons why I failed:

  • There is a global pandemic on, the hospitals here are full, I’m on the other side of the world from most of my friends and family, US politics are a bit much at the moment, I received some frustrating news about my immigration status, and we are going through some huge transitions at work… Needless to say, I’ve been a bit distracted! I may have been a bit unrealistic about what I could take on.
  • I usually spend a lot of my spare time reading and thinking, which sparks a ton of ideas to write about. In order to publish something everyday, I had to spend most of my spare time writing instead, which meant I didn’t have my usual inputs for inspiration. I simply found I had less to write about.
  • I do have a backlog of thoughts and ideas that I plan to write up more fully, so I tried to turn to them instead. The problem is, unlike a quick reaction to a podcast or article, they all felt like Very Big Things to write up and I just didn’t have the energy to dive in.
  • I had scheduled time in both the morning and evening for writing, but I just couldn’t get into my morning writing sessions knowing I needed to start work in an hour or so. I know people usually say to do creative work in the morning, but no matter how hard I try I seem to only be able to ease into it when I don’t have any other time-sensitive obligations for the day.
  • The problem is, that meant I was waiting until after work to do my writing. In general this is not too bad, but last week was a particularly intense week, so by the evenings I had no mental energy left - that’s when I broke the posting everyday” habit.
  • Another issue is that scheduling writing sessions in the evening meant that even if I had an idea I felt motivated to write about during the day, by the evening it just somehow felt less appealing. Again, with more mental energy I don’t think this is usually a problem, but when you’re tired you need that extra spark of motivation to actually do it.

Even though I failed to publish something everyday, it was a super useful exercise to attempt and I learned a lot. Some things I plan to do going forward:

  • One of my themes for the year is consistency, and part of consistency is not giving up just because you mess up a little. So I’m not going to beat myself up too much, and I’m still going to try to write frequently, even if everyday was too much.
  • I’m going to try to listen to my internal motivation a bit more, which means a) writing as soon as inspiration hits (if my calendar allows) and b) not feeling obliged to post everyday if I don’t have anything I’m particularly excited about writing.
  • I intend to prioritize my newsletter a bit more, and aim to send it more consistently (weekly), and perhaps focus more on curation. I’m hoping this will still exercise the consistency’ muscle while feeling a bit more manageable.
  • Although I was trying to treat my posts almost like tweets in terms of how much I needed to write and how formal they needed to be, writing a post still felt like a bigger deal than I wanted it to. I might experiment with other ways to share less-polished thoughts, perhaps through a weekly post that contains snippets of notes I made that week.