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54 Days In: Reflecting On a Writing Streak

At the beginning of this year, I made a commitment to myself that I would write 1,000 words per day. Originally, I made that commitment thinking I would stick it out at least through January.

Here’s the thing about me and goals: keeping a streak going has always been tough for me. It’s frustrating, and I’m not sure why that is. I struggle with consistency, even if I make the goal as easy as possible.

Heck, I had a couple other goals that I wanted to keep in January, but failed to keep any of them for more than a week.

But hey – the writing streak is alive and well. I couldn’t be happier about this. And actually, since I’ve been able to keep this streak going, I’ve been moving forward with this streak beyond January.

I spent all of January pumping out 1K+ words per day. One day, I wrote over 13,000 (I was working on my book). Now I want to see how long I can keep it going. I feel really confident that I will be able to get that streak to run all 366 days this year (bonus points for leap years).

The prospect is exciting to me, and it’s also insanely useful. Between the content I publish here, the exclusive content I send to my readers most weeks in the Six-Pack email, and the books I am publishing this year, I have a need for a lot of fresh and creative content.

And creativity is everything in this line of work. My brain needs to be primed to put out content, and the only way to really do that is by writing every flipping day.

Here are a few random musings bouncing around in my brain as I reflect on the last month:

I am a writer.

This is the coolest side effect of all of this.

As a writer, I suffer from Imposter Syndrome. It’s a really common thing that lots of people – entrepreneurs especially – have to deal with. It’s not like a crippling anxiety or anything, it’s just a little nagging in the back of my mind.

It’s the feeling that this thing I’m trying to do is not successful, won’t ever be successful, and people will eventually figure it out. Other people? They are writers. Me? Not so much.

And you know what? For the last 8 years, that voice was… right. I hate to say that, because the first thing everyone says when you are dealing with Imposter Syndrome is to ignore it or think of the ways it’s wrong. In my case, it couldn’t have been more right.

Here’s the thing about writers: they write. Here’s the thing about me: I wasn’t. I’d go a week without writing anything creative. So, I was calling myself a writer but I wasn’t writing.

I was an imposter.

Admitting that was 90% of the problem. I knew that I needed to actually write on a regular basis to call myself a writer. Weird thing is, now I actually do feel like a writer. That dream of publishing books for a living instead of working with clients and all that stuff? It feels more alive than ever.

There’s a kinship among writers that I finally feel like I can be a part of. That’s because I’m putting in the hours and doing the writing. There’s no way around that.

Don’t believe me? Just search Twitter for the hashtag #amwriting. I used it on that day I was working on the book.

I had followers coming out of the woodwork to comment. They liked my tweet. I got a handful of new followers. That’s because writers crave that community, and #amwriting is a popular hashtag for the writers.

Anyway, I’m writing, and I totally feel like a writer for the first time in my life.

Creativity is a muscle.

You can talk about willpower all you want, but I’m really noticing the ease that is becoming apparent the more I write.

When I used to write, it was a real slog to try and come up with things to write about. Ideas were fleeting. I sometimes struggled to write something interesting or useful.

But after nearly two months of doing it every day, coming up with the words is actually really easy. I can sit down and knock out a thousand words in 15 minutes. Even better, I’m seeing how my writing is getting better from a functional standpoint.

My writing is starting to flow a little more naturally. I’m becoming more open and comfortable in my writing “skin”. This is a big deal, especially for a guy who is trying to be a professional writer.

Writing feels looser. And the big reason for that is…

I made the goal easy – and it’s working.

The biggest lesson I learned from reading two very popular books on writing over the past few weeks is this: nobody is going to read your first draft.

This is a fact that my conscious brain has known for a long time, but it’s hard to internalize it and actually believe it. Nobody is going to read my first drafts.

Why is this important? Because it frees you up to write garbage.

I’m not saying that every word of the 1,000 per day that I’m writing is garbage. In fact, much of it isn’t. But the process of writing can unlock some other pieces that I might want to expand on. It often takes me a few paragraphs of writing before I really zero in on what I actually want to say about a given subject.

Plus, it takes all the pressure off the goal itself. I can write any time of the day, with the full knowledge that it might be garbage and nobody will see it. I can edit it later and make it a coherent piece. I can run with a thought that comes up in the last paragraph of something I’m writing and that’s the one that I actually want to publish.

In any case, I’m free to run with my thoughts, have fun with the writing process, and get the noise out of my head.

Other things

  • The Do Over Calendar is a massive success. Just having that calendar in front of me, so I can see the chain of X’s every time I glance at that wall is incredibly motivating.
  • Scrivener is awesome for organizing your writing. Just awesome. Loving it more every day.
  • Some days, I need to write in the quiet. Other days, I need to go out in public and be among people. Doesn’t matter, I do what I have to do.
  • I can wait until 11:30pm and still get my 1K in. It’s never too late to get after it.
  • Having the support of the people around you is everything. My wife knows about this goal and encourages me whenever she can. It’s boss.
  • Thanks to this goal, I have a wealth of already-written content to draw from whenever I need it. No more rushing to crank out some words so that I can publish something. It gives me the freedom to create more – and create better.