Karl Glasses

My brain says, “Karl, you’re an idiot, why are you spending all this time writing. No-one wants to read this nonsense.” And so I get into a negative spiral: Why am I bothering to do this? Is anyone even reading what I’m writing? What’s the point of publishing a post every single day?

Well, brain, here’s why I write.

Why you should write and publish a blog post every day

Search Google for the above phrase and you’ll find a plethora of articles primarily focused on search engine optimisation (SEO); a phrase which means building content for a website which makes Google happy. The theory goes, the more stuff you write around a particular topic, and the more often you write it, the more favourable Google will look at your website, and the more traffic they will send your way.

If you’re building up a business, or creating a news website with timely articles, that’s all well and good; but if your goal is improving your creative writing, and your writing process, you’re unlikely to succeed.

Let’s get straight to the core of my argument. There is no cause and effect here; at least not directly. Writing every day will not lead to any guaranteed outcome. It won’t win you any awards, it won’t guarantee you’ll get a more engaged readership, it won’t even earn you any money. If you’re looking for a quick fix with an obvious outcome, you won’t find it just by posting more blogs.

But what writing every day will do is prepare you to engage with opportunities that might arise. It will hone your skill and writing discipline to make you a better writer.

Write it for yourself

No offence if you’ve found yourself in this backwater of the internet and actually are reading this, you’re very much welcome to. But my general rule is that I only write what interests me. That might be around a particular topic, or just something I saw earlier in the day and found interesting; but unless I have the motivation to write about something I don’t do it.

I spent many years writing for websites where assignments were set solely based on the timeliness of the information. If Apple were holding a conference to announce new products, that’s what I’d write about. That was fine, and what the audience demanded, but it sucked all the life out of the process; and so I now only write about things I care about.

At the time of writing you may have noticed that I don’t post on social media. I’ve got the links to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at the top of every page, but there’s no content there. That’s because I don’t have any motivation at the moment to share my work. If people come across it, that’s great, but I’m not in a mood for marketing my work just at the moment.

Make every blog post a story that you enjoy writing

While most of the stuff I write here is based on things I’ve read or the writing process, some are not. I’m may seem to post random articles, but the connective tissue between all these things is the creative process.

I don’t want to write book reviews to a template, and give marks out of five, or ten, or one-hundred. I don’t want to write about grammar or verbs or adjectives. I don’t want to write about the books I love, the authors that inspire me, and the stupid minutea of life that would otherwise be forgotten about.

About five years ago, in another life, I ran a technology website. I wrote news articles, reviews, and technical guides. People found it useful, came to my website, but nothing ever came of the website itself — it wasn’t self-sustaining, but what did come from it were connections and opportunities which allowed me new avenues to do the things I loved.

There was a process there, and the work became the process. I lost the passion for writing, because there were expectations. If an event happened I had to write about it, it didn’t matter whether I cared about it, I had to write it, and write it faster, get it online quicker than the next guy. Then there was the posting on social media, telling people that I’d written it, and following it up the next day with updates, and further developments. It became a nightmarish cycle and the writing took second place.

Make sure everything you write is a story that you enjoy telling.

Fear? What’s fear?

There’s a fear associated with any creative activity. Whether it’s dancing, public speaking, sculpture, or painting, and writing just the same. It’s a step to take to throw your work out into the world and request that people take an interest.

Whenever I write something, and especially when I post something, I get a twinge of anxiety for a couple of days afterwards. I worry that the grammar wasn’t quite correct, or I missed a few spelling mistakes, or that the content isn’t as comprehensive as I wanted it to be. By forcing myself to complete and post a blog every day, I can’t worry about those things, and sometimes, I even look back a couple of weeks later and think, hmmm, that was pretty good.

Publishing something, anything, every day lessens that fear. By publishing a snippet of your work every day, making the process of sharing your work routine, pushing that Publish button becomes more like jumping off the side of the pool instead of peering over the edge of the highest diving board in fear.

Good enough is better than perfect

How often have you written something, spent hours working on a story or an article, and then hidden it away when you felt the pang of anxiety that it might not be quite good enough.

The truth is that if you’re creative, nothing is ever good enough. That short story you’re working on will never reach the point of perfection that you aim for. That chapter you’ve just finished will never be quite as good as the one you had imagined before writing it.

The answer is: just put it out there, what’s the worst that can happen?

It doesn’t matter if I make a mistake, or write something today that I don’t like tomorrow. I just get it out there and move on.

It’s so liberating to be able to write and not worry what the reader thinks. There’s no crowd of critics picking through your work, pointing out all of the grammatical errors and the spelling mistakes like you imagine before publishing. If something’s not good enough, nobody’s going to read it, so who cares?

Seriously. Let’s imagine you want to write the perfect short story; how would you do that? Outline it, knock out a first draft, write a second, maybe third draft, get some beta readers to review it, write a fourth draft, get a professional editor to give it the once over, get another editor to look at it, do another draft, send it to the Faculty for English at Oxford University to review, build a time machine and have Shakespear and Marlow and Keats read it. Would you be ready to publish it then?

No, it still wouldn’t be perfect. The resulting story wouldn’t be that creative vision you started with.

Forcing yourself to publish something every day, no matter how bad, or how awful, means you simply don’t have the time to worry about the minor things. And by the time next week rolls around you’ll have forgotten all about that sentence that was giving you problems and be onto the next thing.

Do this every day for a year and you’ll end up with 365 works of creative writing; as Ray Bradbury said about his short story challenge:


“Write a short story every week. It’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.” 

Ray Bradbury

Publishing a blog post every day forces you to be creative

Writing and publishing every day forces you to write about things you wouldn’t otherwise even consider. Cat soup? Surfing? Death threats delivered via Google Search? I would never have written about those things before, but now, because I HAD to find something to write about, I had to come up with a story, an interesting piece of creative writing, that would never have otherwise existed.

Publishing every day takes some getting used to. I equate the feeling it to aiming to build a house of matches, getting the matches out of the box, selecting the ones you want to use as building materials, and then fumbling and dropping them all into a pile of sticks on the floor.

Image result for match house

Practise makes Perfect

Write 1000 words for an hour every day, and within one year you’ll have clocked up 356 hours worth of writing experience and got 365,000 words under your belt. That might not turn you into Stephen King, or provide you his bank balance, but it will give you a skillset you wouldn’t otherwise have.

Being able to write consisely and clearly makes it easier to convience other tha tyou know what you’re talking about.

Writing every day helps you develop a routine

Since I began writing every day I’ve found a number of things in my life have noticeably improved. I sleep better — getting that creative energy out onto the page instead of waking up in the middle of the night mulling it over — I eat better, I get more exercise, and I’m generally more relaxed.

Being disciplined enough to keep to a simple routing makes other things fall into place naturally.

Disipline

Write it now, don’t schedule it for tomorrow.

I’ve read several articles which suggest that while you should post every day, that doesn’t mean you have to write everyday. Instead you should schedule your posts ahead of time, so if you miss a day, it’s no bother, you’ve got a back up.

I strongly disagree.

This idea slips back into the writing for Google arguments I outlined above. And that’s not what we’re doing. Write it now, and publish it now; it has to be urgent and immediate or you’ll never develop the benefits I spoke of above.

I Just Love Writing. So that’s what I’m going to do.

I love everything about writing. I love the creative process, I love the potential that whenever I publish something interesting could come from it, even if it’s only a comment on a blog post.

As I learnt from my experience with my previous website, great things can happen if you throw yourself in front of opportunity. I’m not expecting to be a best selling author or to win any great awards, but odd things happen when you put yourself out there, and as I found with my website, just doing one thing consistently for a few years can change your life in unexpected ways.

So, brain, that’s why I write every day.

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