I recently completed a 100-day experiment on Medium where I wrote and published every day. I was aiming for 100 days, but made 93, which I still think is pretty good.
While it didn’t go quite as I expected it would, I did get something very valuable out of it — a daily writing habit. Since I’ve struggled to write daily for most of my life, this was no small feat.
Maybe you can relate: I’ve always written, just sporadically. I would wait for the muse to arrive, or like the saying goes about exercise, if I felt the urge to write, I would lay down until it went away.
But 100 days of publishing fundamentally changes your mindset.
It becomes so much a part of you that not doing it feels weird, like you left the house and forgot to put on pants.
This is nothing new to those diligent folks who ave no trouble executing a new habit. You know, those people who follow through on their new year’s resolutions. The ones who vow to eat healthy and then actually do.
But for those of us who struggle a little bit, here are three things I learned over my 100-day experiment that can help you develop that long-sought writing habit in your own 100-day challenge.
Find the snippets
No matter how hard I wish, I don’t have hours a day to devote to writing. I’m a mom who works full-time outside the home. I get a few minutes here and there throughout the day, and I have to make the most of those moments.
Chances are, you’re in a similar situation. So I recommend finding the snippets of time where you can write, even just a sentence or two, throughout the day.
For me, that looks like leaving my computer open on the counter while I’m making dinner, and writing while something is sauteing and the baby is occupied with measuring cups and spoons.
I’ll write on breaks at work when I get them, and I’ll stay up as late as I can to finish what I started that day. It’s not always pretty, but I take what I can get. It still counts.
After a decade as a reporter, I developed some writing speed, but publishing for 90+ days with only a few minutes to write here and there increased my speed significantly.
It also helped me hone my message and get to the point. If you’re trying to write quickly, you don’t have time for the flowery language that can detract from what you’re trying to say. My writing got to be concise, which I think is what readers want.
Do what you can to learn to write faster, which really just means practice. the best way to increase your speed is to get everything onto the page first, in a sort of brain dump, then go back and organize and edit it.
I use the “brain dump” method because I’m easily distracted, and I’ll lose my train of thought and forget what point I was going to make. This helps me essentially out-run my forgetfulness and distraction.
Find someone to hold you accountable
I’ve heard this a lot through the years, and I never really did it, but because I know myself, I knew this challenge would require it. You see, I start things no problem. It’s the finishing I have problems with. Can you relate?
I seriously worried that I would just stop publishing to Medium one day after maybe not having an opportunity to write that day. I might beat myself up over missing one day, and then just give up on the whole endeavor, reminding myself that I don’t finish things anyway, so what’s one more task?
Like I said, I know myself, and I know that with no consequences, I won’t follow through. I’m not proud of it; I’m telling you this so if you’re anything like me, you’ll know that you’re not alone, and there is a way to make the accountability partner thing work for you.
This 100-day challenge was a group challenge, and I could not bear the thought of checking in with my friends each week and not having any progress to report.
The fear of shame and letting people down kept me going. That’s right, fear. It’s not all bad sometimes.
Now, there is no more challenge, so I don’t worry about what my friends will think if I miss a day of writing.
Instead, I keep track of my daily word count in my bullet journal, and the fear of letting my friends down has turned into a fear of letting myself down.
Each day, I write my word count in my calendar, even if it’s a teeny, tiny number. The smallest I’ve done so far is 95 words in an Instagram post. I dread seeing an empty box, and that spurs me to keep writing.
Of course, if I miss a day, I try not to beat myself up and just remember to get back on the wagon the next day. It mostly works.
The funny thing is, without the 100-day challenge, numbers on a calendar would not have spurred me to keep going. I’ve tried trackers before, and they never motivated me. But if you practice anything in public for 100 days, your mindset changes, and the tracker can become a viable tool.
So track even the smallest word count to keep yourself accountable and motivated. Don’t worry about the length. Writing is writing, and longer isn’t always better.
So will you do it? Will you try a 100-day challenge to publish on Medium and develop a writing habit?
Helping creatives make time & space for what they love. firstname.lastname@example.org.