Day 90. Time to assess. That’s probably why I keep typing and deleting sentences: the stakes seem raised, somehow, as I review my learning.
The first thing I need to say is that there are no big conclusions. No seismic effects. My business hasn’t changed (much), with the clear and present exception of writing my newsletter (see below).
These are the things that are floating around in my head:
- I set a bunch of rules for myself at the outset, and I broke every one. As an experimenter, my scientific method is non-methodical. As a writer, I’m okay with that, since “Learn the rules in order to break them” is one of my favorite rules of writing.
- An idea that sounded amazing to me one day could lose its luster in 24 hours. Stockpiling topics doesn’t suit me.
- For the first several days, I felt this enormous pressure at the front of my head, as if the brain muscle were actually getting a workout. My face actually felt different.
- Whether I’m tired or not, I’ve been doing this long enough and consistently enough that I can pull a post out of thin air, put it into reasonably engaging English, and share it. Some of the last-minute posts were as good as the early-morning posts.
- Since writing comes fairly easily to me, there is a lot to stretch myself.
- As I’ve known for a long time, if I have an “assignment,” I’m very likely to complete it and do my best (which is why poetry-writing grad school was the last time I wrote a lot of poems). If I have multiple priorities, I’ll do the top of the list and feel very accomplished, often quitting while I’m ahead and getting behind. What this means practically is that the whole time I was blogging daily, I was NOT writing my business newsletter.
Here are some questions posed by my Facebook friends and family:
- What do you know now you wish you’d learned earlier? There’s a lot of back-end stuff that would allow me to quantify read rates and responses that I simply didn’t do. I can’t tell you exactly what that means, but I can tell you which posts got the most attention in terms of page comments or in terms of Facebook reach:
- What surprised you about your discovery, what it “felt like” to have it all ahead of you, and what it “feels like” now? Like any daily obligation, I was stretched by it. I’ve rarely been as faithful with a daily practice; even my flossing and toothbrushing hasn’t been as consistent. Waking up every day with this one thing on my To-Do list, and going to bed every night with it Have-Done, became almost second nature, so I lost the sense of “wow.” It really felt uphill a lot of times while also being very exciting and scary.
- Has it become a habit? When you first started, was it difficult to get into a habit? I think it was easier to instill it as a habit at the outset: sitting down every morning to take care of it and get it out of the way with a timer ticking. As it became more familiar, there were more times when I woke up from napping on the couch (a habit I sometimes feel needs to change) and said, “Whoops — gotta write before bedtime!” Because it pushes other habits out of the way (like writing newsletters and maintaining the copy for my business), I look forward to feeling more space open up. Then I’ll fill it with that other writing.
- How has it changed you as a writer? Every so often, I’d write a post that scared me. “This is the one,” I’d think, “that will make me enemies.” And then I’d publish, and I’d breathe, and nothing scary would happen, and the next time, I’d take a bigger risk. What feels risky has changed a lot. Sentences themselves, the production piece of it, actually comes a lot easier, faster, and more complete. I don’t redraft nearly as much.
- Has it become easier to feel inspired to write? Not necessarily easier to “feel inspired,” but to write without needing to wait for inspiration. Inspiration comes and goes without reference to a deadline, but the need to fulfill my word always lit a fire of productivity under me.
- Has it had a positive impact on your business? Qualitatively, I have new clients who’ve told me they “scoured” my website without being specific about whether they paid attention to the blog. Also, I am a better writer, more confident of my own voice and more certain than ever that finding one’s voice is key to reaching out to the right people.
- What kind of reminder did you use? Fear, mostly. I never forgot completely to post, though sometimes if I posted late one day and early the next, I’d get a sense at night that I was forgetting something. No timer, though I did have a calendar listing so I’d know when the 9o days was up.
- At what point was it the hardest to do? Was there a day that you almost didn’t write? I went to San Francisco for 5 days, and I was not always thrilled with working on the road. (I don’t think I’m going to become one of those rootless entrepreneurs.) I knew that I could always find somebody to forgive me, but I also knew that SM was waiting in the wings to collect $90. I think Three Sentences came on a day when I was feeling resentful (or drunk). I Have Hit the Wall was the least effort I put out. But even I’m Only Writing This So I Don’t Get Fined got better as I went.
- How you would apply “what you learned” in a new art form? I’m going to read “new art form” to mean “different from writing.” I’m about to embark on creating a play collaboratively, and I see my own ability to create has grown so I can be creative every single day and still have more inside. Probably, I’m not going to paint or draw or dance what I’ve learned. But I still have a lot of things to say, and I’d like to record them with audio and/or video.
The most personal conclusion of all: My mom loves to read my writing. She says she’s gotten addicted to the daily posts and doesn’t know what she’ll do now. How about we write each other letters, Mom? Send them in the mail, with stamps, maybe even using the lost art of handwriting.
Thank you, questioners, for helping shape my thoughts. If anyone else wants to ask, please post your questions below and I will respond.