Day 30: Epilogue

I’ve finally made it to the end of the 30 days. A month isn’t a long time, but creating and publishing daily has the effect of stretching time, making the end seem very far away.

You cannot improve any skill without practice, so the more practice you can get, the better. A daily deadline teaches you how to start moving your feet, how to get going. You might not produce work up to the high standard you set for yourself, or you might, but you won’t know until you start doing it, and even if you fall short, that experience itself gives you the material to work with, gives you something tangible to improve.

When I began this project I thought that my writing would be a lot worse than what I actually did end up publishing. Now, of course my standards may not be the same as yours, and you may not consider the work good, which would be fair, but I am personally happy to have touched on a few ideas I consider important, and have expressed certain issues sufficiently well. There are plenty of disjointed paragraphs and clumsy writing, but there are also words that I think are on the right track.

Throughout the month I thought I would publish everything that came to mind, just to get something out, but I did a fair share of selection, putting drafts to the side when I felt they weren’t worth publishing. At all stages I had to ask myself whether what I have to say is really worth saying, whether I’m actually talking about something that I really care about, or whether it is merely some idea that came to mind that I think is clever, but is really just idle chatter. I found that the best thing to do in these cases would be to ask myself what I would write about if I didn’t have this deadline, and then write about that.

As Steven Pressfield says, until you start doing the work daily, you’re not a pro, you’re an amateur. I didn’t have to publish these posts, but the public commitment forced me to keep going and write on a daily basis. I found the experience immensely beneficial in this way, helping me face and overcome resistance every day and set me on the road to doing the work I always wanted to do. If you want to be a writer, then write, but take it seriously as a real job, not merely a hobby.

This said, there are a couple of problems with daily publishing. These are to do with the act of putting out work to the public, not of doing the work itself.

One issue with publishing daily is that while the constraint helps you produce, it also prevents your writing from exploring an issue in depth. In the similar way that Twitter imposes a character limit on your posts, daily publishing imposes a time constraint on your writing, and by extension a character limit as well. This can be overcome by publishing a chain of posts on the same subject, but the constraint still imposes an unnecessary burden which puts the work in danger of becoming disjointed.

The other issue with daily publishing is that for some reason I felt the need to write about something different every time. This is the norm on most blogs, especially those covering news, but that doesn’t make it the right way to go. The same problem here as with the issue above: by constantly changing the subject of your writing you cut off your exploration of any issue short. If what you write about truly matters, then this is the subject you should write about again and again, either pushing deeper at every step, or exploring its surroundings.

From now on I’m going to take the time to compose longer essays, as well as collections of essays on the same topic. I will continue to write daily, but will not be publishing on a set schedule. The blog is a great publishing medium, but you have to use it the right way to make the most of it, and to ensure the technology itself does not dictate what you write or how you write it.

That said, there is still value in short posts, as well as commentary on current events, it’s just that those posts should probably not be the core of your work. It need not be a choice between this sort of writing or that, the various sorts of posts can co-exist just fine side by side. What matters is what sort of work you spend most of your time on, and how the design and organization of your blog reflects that.

If you’re interested in doing the same and publishing a piece of creative work every day for month but are still not sure if you want to go ahead, I recommend you do it. It isn’t easy, and in the moments when you are tired or have a headache but still have to meet the deadline you’ll hate it and will want to quit. Don’t stop though, keep going. If you’re doing what you really want to do, you will manage to push through and will be happier for it.

August 2012