5 lessons from writing every day for 3 years

January 28th 2014, I challenged myself to write every day for a month. I wanted to improve my writing and thought the best was to write more.

Over 1000 days and 1 million words later, I’m still going and have no temptation to stop.

I want to share a few things I’ve learned from writing consistently for three years.

  1. It’s possible.

After my 30 day challenge, I realised  it was something I enjoyed it and decided to continue. The streak was still young so I wasn’t concerned about breaking the streak.

Without noticing, it slowly evolved into something much bigger that I could have expected. I’d wake up, and want to write. I’d think about my day and make sure that I could find the time for writing. I’d tell friends while on holiday that I’m going to disappear for 15 minutes and write a bit.

I’d carve out time instead of just hoping that I’d be able to get round to it. As the streak grew and grew, I became more attached to it.

Did I aim for 3 years? Never. If I did, I don’t think I would have achieved it.

Thankfully, this applies to other habits as well. With some persistence, the habit eventually grows into something you can’t not do instead of something you try to do.

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2. It’s OK to write bullshit.

So much of me is glad that I haven’t sat down to just publish everything in the journal. Half of it doesn’t make sense and the other half just repeats the same thing.

You can dance like no one is watching and you can write like no one is reading. It’s yours.

Surprisingly enough this gave me the confidence to write work then publish it because the first draft of your work is yours and hidden away. Write like no one is reading then edit the life into it. It doesn’t matter how repetitive, boring, and verbose it is.

Good writing comes from writing loads then editing the rubbish away.

Write. Write. Then edit a bit more.

3. It’ll pass.

For those who don’t know, I deal with chronic pain. I’ve written a lot about it in my journal (and much of that led to me writing Living With Chronic Pain) but I’ve also noticed that in the darkest times I’ve experienced, I’ve felt that it’s going to go on forever. It doesn’t.

Emotions pass with time. Especially if you give yourself permission not to latch onto them and see what it’s like to let them go.

This doesn’t mean the depression will just leave or the anxiety will turn into comfort but I do have a greater appreciation of myself and the problems I see myself experiencing. There’s a lot of shit that comes with disability or just living life in general. Having a log of some emotions is somewhat nice.

With time things pass. And that is comforting.

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4. You learn more about yourself.

Occasionally, I’d just spend time writing about my day. Maybe I had a particularly good day and I wanted more time to experience it and relive it as best I can.

Then I moved onto writing more about myself and the values that I hold. It’d take some struggle and time because I often didn’t know what I believed about myself and the world. It was something I’d studied but never really taken the time to reflect and learn.

It took a lot of time but the value in being slightly more reflective, even if it is 15 minutes every week or month, is remarkable. It showed me that there’s still so much for me to learn and improve upon as a person. How to treat other people better and with more respect or even how to treat yourself with more respect.

Taking time to reflect is important. Writing about it occasionally is helpful and better yet gives you a log of how your views have changed over time.

5. It’s OK to change your mind.

When I would sit down and write about something substantial, I’d occasionally find myself just changing my mind. Sometimes I’d dislike it.

But changing your mind is vital to being able to assess the world honestly. It’s uncomfortable. But worthwhile. Most worthwhile things are difficult.

And those are some of the things I’ve learned. It’s been enjoyable and something I hope to continue. As the streak grew, I gained more and more confidence in my ability to keep long streaks like this going. When I reached 2.5 years, getting to 3 years felt easy. When I was at 30 days, getting to 60 seemed impossible.

Start one day at a time. Ignore the end goal and focus solely on creating.

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Now if only I could apply this to the blog…

As always, thanks for reading :)

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Have you ever tried maintaining a journal?

And it begins

For those who don’t know, I’m studying philosophy at university. Well, it began a few weeks ago but we can ignore that.  I have a few plans for my time here with regards to personal development and writing in general. I won’t bore you with all the details. Only  a few of them.

So far, it’s not too bad. I haven’t met anyone I can say I don’t like. I’ve tried my best to be social and set a decent routine for work. Y’know the normal stuff. I might expand more on what’s happened but it’s not all that interesting. However, I realised that getting soaked after buses drive through puddles isn’t something that only happens in movies and to other people. The good news about university at this point is that it’s progressed from ‘What’s your name? What are you studying?’ to ‘I’ve forgotten your name but you’re on my course. Hi, this lecture is boring.’ Variety is the spice of life.

Here are a few things that I want to try doing over the next few weeks, months and my first year in general.

  • “Small philosophers”

This is a series I hope to start and keep consistent. It’ll involve me explaining what I’ve learnt in lectures and through reading. Hopefully, I’ll be able to make it entertaining for those who have no interest in philosophy and helpful to those that do. Though, I offer no guarantees because some of the things I’m studying are either too complicated for that or just plain boring. Plus, I’m not an entertaining writer.

It should also help solidify my understanding of the material if I manage to do it correctly. If I do enough, I’ll transfer it to another blog. Update schedule? Hopefully weekly.

  • General self improvement

The whole point of this blog! There are definitely a lot of areas in my life I still want to improve. For example, fitness and work discipline. I’ll keep this part short since you’ll see how I progress as a person as I update the blog.

  • Blogging

Yes, I’m including blogging in the list of things I want to do on the blog. I still want to maintain it. My update schedule will probably be less frequent as university progresses but it’s still important for me to improve my writing beyond philosophy essays and summaries. I’ll try to continue the random stories that I write because they’re fun and being received well.

I did say that I won’t bore you with all the details, so I won’t. This is mainly to let you know that I haven’t abandoned my blog. It’s only just started. It’d be sad to just stop so soon.