A reader sent me an email the other day that said: I’ve gotten out of the habit of blogging daily. I felt my old stuff was fluffy and redundant.
I think this is the wrong approach to blogging daily because it’s predicated on the assumption that every post needs to be perfect. I could never blog every day if I was planning to judge my writing too harshly. Few writers could. The daily blog is my workshop, not a fully finished product. I don’t edit it much and I don’t look back. The choice for me is between writing at 70-80% every day or trying for big, occasional wins. I know from experience the former works best so I blog daily and I recommend it widely to others.
I’m okay with there fact that everyday I won’t produce wins. I wrote an essay yesterday for example that I’m not too happy with but I know that today and tomorrow and the next day I get to write another one. I trust the quantity will help drive me towards higher levels of quality in time. That’s how you should approach daily blogging. Don’t stress and get out of your preparation mindset. Just write and publish.
To follow the advice of author Tim Ferriss, “just write two crappy pages per day.” If you can do that, you’re almost guaranteed to become a better writer and to get value out of daily blogging. I know I have. Over the last few months I’ve improved in every measurable metric as well as my general sense of happiness and fulfillment in my writing. Every day has not been an improvement, but on the whole I’ve gotten better. That’s how I approach daily blogging.
It takes a lot of writing and experimentation for each person to find their own individual style and voice, what they care about, what others care about, and so on. This is a natural process. But it just so happens that when you blog, you need to go through this process in a very public way. Which is awkward. And kind of embarrassing.
But you need to be able to stomach this. Most people, when they want to start blogging don’t realize how much embarrassment and “I can’t believe I actually published that,” goes into it. So if you can’t handle public embarrassment (not to mention the occasional hate email), then, as the South Park ski instructor once said, “you’re going to have a bad time!”
It’s for the three reasons above that my go-to advice for aspiring bloggers is always, “Write 100 posts and then come back and ask me again.”
You should start seeing daily blogging as a necessary part of this process that Mark details. Think of it similarly to how you might feel if you go to the gym after months or years of avoiding it. You’re not going to be able to lift the big men’s weights just yet and that’s fine. You still need to show up if you ever want to get to their level.
My reader asked me in the email about how he could start writing longer, “more complex,” essays. My answer to him was the same I’d give to anyone:
Did I mention start writing daily?? If you feel you’re getting redundant and fluffy, change that. If you can’t do it right in short posts I don’t know how you’ll do it in extended ones. Find some topics outside of your traditional scope and do those.
If you want to become a better writer, write and publish every single day. And if you want to be able to write and publish every single day, reevaluate your expectations for what is passable, publishable writing and start putting your writing out there. Understand that you’re not the next Dostoevsky (yet), don’t stress about tit, and be comfortable being a beginner. You’ve got a long way to go and each day is an opportunity to improve.