Writing goals

After publishing Write every day, the number one question I get asked is, unsurprisingly, “Do you still write every day?” The short answer is no. The hard truth is, I gave up the habit only weeks after finishing that post. It just wasn’t effective the way it was. Typing 250 words about anything – the only writing I did in the past – makes a good writing practice, that’s for sure. But practice alone will never be enough to achieve my goal of building an audience by providing value through writing. Sooner or later, I have to publish something. There is no other way.

Giving up my daily writing habit doesn’t mean that I stopped writing altogether. It just means that I changed the way I approach writing. I basically traded “write every day” for “publish every month by writing as often as possible”. So far it has worked well. In the last nine months I’ve published 13 blog posts covering topics like Go programming, infrastructure automation, package building, and lean development practices. I published at least one new blog post per month. This streak makes me incredibly proud. While it doesn’t come close to anything a more “serious” writer might put out, it’s far away from having nothing to show but good intentions.

If I’ve learned anything about writing, it’s that shipping is important. Publishing something, even if it’s only a short piece once a month or so, has improved my writing more than anything else. And that’s not just some gut feeling of mine; it’s what (totally honest) people keep telling me about this blog. When I write for someone else, I inevitably have to flip a switch in my brain, the one that enables shipping mode. This helps me to focus on the topic at hand and forces me to add an extra level of polish to my writing.

Writing for myself is fine, but it’s also different. Every so often I get the urge to open my favorite writing app and start typing 250 words on whatever comes to my mind. This little exercise used to be the only writing I was able to accomplish. Now I know that it is a mere practice that prepares me for the real thing – the words I put out for you to read and, hopefully, enjoy. Sometimes I practice right before getting to the serious stuff and other times it’s only once per week. It actually doesn’t matter. What matters to me is shipping.

When it comes to publishing content, I also know that commitment is key. At some point I sat down and thought about what I want to achieve. I decided to invest more time in my blog. I made it a priority to publish something once a month, no matter what. By having this clear, manageable goal in my head and committing to it – first behind closed doors and later in public – I made myself accountable. Missing a month would make me feel bad, so I better keep writing.

Being committed means that I have to do the work and deliver what I promise. To achieve that, I had to figure out which writing process works best for me. No matter what your process looks like, it all boils down to showing up and putting the time in. In my case, writing takes a great deal of time – many hours I would otherwise spend programming (most likely in Rust), reading, or doing something else entirely. But that’s fine; writing is a worthwhile investment. I know (or at least I hope) that the more I write, the better I get, and the less painful it becomes.

That being said, I think it’s time to take the next step in my writing journey and set more ambitious goals. They are, in order of importance:

  1. Publish two blog posts a month. Given the record of posts I’ve written and the number of writing ideas I’ve collected, I’m confident that doubling the frequency of posts is feasible. Expect a new post every other week from now on!

  2. Guest post on other sites. I did this in the past, but like to do it more often. There’s currently one (paid) writing opportunity waiting for me right around the corner. I’m also planning to actively reach out to other sites. Ping me if you’re interested in a collaboration.

  3. Relaunch this blog. I want to migrate to a different Jekyll theme or blog engine. One that provides responsive design, proper syntax highlighting, and the ability to tag/find posts. The reading experience is important to me.

I’m committed and I’m accountable. Let’s see how this works out.

Tagged under: Writing