How do you write every day?
I recently wrote that I’ve written and published a blog post every day for almost 19 years.
Several readers have asked, “How is that possible?”
Some wondered about logistics. Weren’t their days when you were sick or unavailable or without internet access?
Those questions were answered by explaining that I write some posts beforehand so I always have something to post even on the days when the world makes things difficult.
Posts can also be scheduled, so if I’m worried about being unable to post for any reason, I can schedule the post ahead of time. Back in October of 2011, a snowstorm knocked out the power for more than a week for many people in our area. Absent a cellular hot spot, that may have caused a break in my chain of consecutive posts, but happily, we never lost power.
But most wanted to know something beyond logistics. Specifically, how do you find something to say every day?
Part of this is that I’ve always had a lot to say. I’m curious and opinionated. I don’t allow self-doubt or fear to get in the way of what I write. If I think something is entertaining, interesting, or enlightening, I write and post. I never wonder if it’s good enough to share with the world.
If it’s good for me, it’s good enough for you.
I also read a lot. Doing so brings me in contact with a great many things that I can heartily agree, stridently disagree, question, comment upon, or use as inspiration for something of my own.
I also listen a lot. I listen to books and podcasts, but I also listen carefully to the words of others. I monitor closely how those words impact me. Do I agree or disagree with what is being said? Did someone else’s words make me feel or think a certain way? Was my mind changed? Did I discover a new idea? Did I find newfound hatred for another human being?
I’m also an idea collector. Rather than judging the quality or potential of an idea, I add every idea that I find as a new draft for a future blog post. I currently have 142 drafts, which means I have 142 potential blog posts that are half written, completely written, or simply comprised of a few words, the link to a story, an image that I found on the internet, a photo I took myself, or something similar.
And I hold onto these ideas for as long as it takes me to be inspired to write about them. My oldest draft dates back to 2012.
A decade ago, I had an idea that I thought might make for a good post. I’m still waiting to unlock that idea.
But being inspired sometimes means being excited enough to finally dig into the idea. Sometimes it means that another story or idea has emerged and collided with the original idea, giving me a new way of writing about it. Sometimes something happens in my life that gives an old idea brand new meaning.
When I sit down every morning to write, I first check to see if there’s something new inside me, waiting to come out. Did something happen the day before that is worthy of becoming the topic of a post? Did I have an argument with someone that might make for an entertaining story? Did I hear something hilarious or heartbreaking or annoying or enlightening that I need to write about right away?
If not, I turn to my 142 possibilities. Some are done and ready to go. Some are nearly complete but likely need an ending. A few are finished, but because the post might create a firestorm of feedback from my readers, I’m waiting for a day when I can manage that firestorm better.
But some are simply a sentence or two or an image or a link. I usually know what I want to do with these ideas, so I search for one that strikes me as interesting. Then I write.
This past week, for example:
I wrote a post based on the content of a daily newsletter that I receive.
I wrote a post about something someone said to me during a recent interview.
I wrote a post about the features of a Chrome extension that surprised me.
I wrote a post about an email received about something I had written back in 2014.
I wrote a post about something Charlie recently said to me.
I wrote a post that I originally started back in 2015 after reading a friend’s blog and liking her idea.
I wrote a post about the lyrics of a song.
I wrote a post about a Molière quote that I first began in 2018.
None of this is exceptional in any way. It’s simply a matter of commitment:
Deciding that you will find something to write about every day. Keeping your eyes and ears open to new ideas. Becoming relentless about recording your ideas. Creating a record of your life that you can look back upon with interest, curiosity, nostalgia, and wonder.
I’m not suggesting that you begin your own 19-year journey of writing every day, but I’m not suggesting you don’t, either.