How I manage to write every day

People often ask me how I manage to write every day. Do I write articles in advance or do I write them on the day I publish them? What if I don’t know what to write about?

Here’s a peek behind the curtain.

First, I usually write one day in advance. Life happens, so now and then there is a day when I prefer not to write. Writing a day in advance gives me that option. 

Skipping a day is not an option for me, because I have challenged myself to write for 365 consecutive days. I am more than halfway now and I’m not about to give up unless I really can’t help it!

Today, I am not actually a day ahead. So that’s motivation for me to write two articles in one day sometime this coming week. 

As for when I write: it varies. Sometimes I write immediately after breakfast. Often, I write when I head to my local coffee shop around ten or eleven in the morning. Other times, I leave the writing until the afternoon or even until the evening. I do prefer to get the writing out of the way earlier in the day, so the “I still want to write today” thoughts don’t keep distracting me.

Normally, I write on my laptop (a MacBook Pro). But when I’m on a trip, I will usually only bring my iPad Pro and write using that device. Writing on an iPad is slower, especially since I don’t have (and don’t want) an external keyboard. On a trip, I don’t mind that. 

Then the big question: what if I don’t know what to write about? 

When I first started writing daily, I worried about running out of ideas. That ended up being a silly worry. I have plenty of ideas for articles; it’s just that some are better than others. 

Most days, as I’m going through my day, I will suddenly come up with a topic to write about and I write that up that same day. You could say that I’ve trained my brain to be on the lookout for potential writing topics. As you might imagine, almost all ideas come to me when my brain wanders. They do not come when I stare at my screen, trying to force a brilliant idea into being.

For those days when a good topic does not come to me, I keep a list of topics to write about. I’ll just pick a topic off the list. Unfortunately, the topics on the list tend to be ones that I care about, but that are also not easy to write about. Perhaps I want to make a nuanced argument, or maybe I have not formulated my thoughts clearly yet. So to write that topic up properly requires more energy than I would ideally want to put into writing every day. 

Speaking of formulating my thoughts clearly, that’s one of the key benefits of writing daily. I often think that my thoughts on a certain topic are well-organized and that I can articulate them clearly, but then I find a mess when I try to put them down on (digital) paper. Writing, and the light editing I do on my daily articles, helps me sharpen my thinking.

A few years ago, there was a period during which I wrote longer articles twice a week, rather than shorter articles daily. Looking back, I found writing twice a week much harder than writing daily. Back then, I would often think “shit, tomorrow is Tuesday, so I’ll have to write an article again!” I would look forward to my non-writing days.

Now, because I write daily, writing has become routine. Plus, a yuuuuuuuuuuuuge benefit is that the volume of writing I produce lowers my expectations for each individual article. It’s all right if I write a bad article today, because I have another shot at writing a good one tomorrow. When I was writing less frequently, I would feel the need to make every article count. That added pressure stressed me out and made my writing seem less genuine.

Finally, writing daily is simply part of my life now. The person who inspired me to write daily (Jonathan Stark) said that when you write daily, it’s like brushing your teeth. You just do it without thinking about it too much. He’s exactly right.

Anyway, I hope that was somewhat interesting. And, of course, I highly recommend that you start writing daily too! Or create videos, draw comics, or record podcasts. As long as you get your creative juices flowing.

Yours,

— Peter

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