It’s still not even 7am, and here I am, sitting down at my desk to write.
It’s only just beginning to get light outside. I can make out the shadowy outlines of the houses and trees in view, but no details have emerged from the darkness yet.
So why am I here? What am I doing, anyway? I could be sound asleep right now, cozy and warm in bed under my big, thick comforter.
But I’m not. I’m here, in the room I’ve turned into my office, staring at a blank computer screen. Why?
Some mornings, I don’t know why, other than “because I made a commitment.” I told myself that I was going to do this for one whole year (this being waking up at 5am, doing my morning routine, writing a minimum of 1,000 words a day, and publishing an article on Medium).
I told myself I would do it, for no other reason than I finally got sick of not doing it.
This Is The Year
A few days ago, I turned 30. And even though I’ve written about age being just a number, reaching this milestone meant something to me. It motivated me in a way that no birthday whizzing by in my 20s did. 29 just didn’t seem to have the same amount of reflective power as 30.
There’s something I’ve been wanting to do lately — a little experiment.
It is in no way a guarantee of success, but I’m willing to try it anyway.
For one year, I’m going to publish an article on Medium every single day. That’s it! I’m just going to get up early, sit down at my desk, do the work, and hit “Publish.”
I’m not expecting much to happen by the end of this year, except for the fact that I’ll have hundreds of published articles on the Internet, and I will have practiced writing in public for the last 365 days straight.
Practice In Public
One of my favourite writers, Jeff Goins, has stressed the importance of practicing in public (a.k.a. posting your work and sharing it with the world) since I first started reading him a few years ago.
After researching successful creative people for a book he was writing, he began to see a common theme: they all spent large amounts of time (often years) consistently practicing their craft, even when no one was really paying attention.
They practiced even when no one was reading their work. They practiced when nobody seemed to care. They practiced when what they wrote (or the art they made) wasn’t popular, and when they didn’t think it was any good. And they continued to practice even when they weren’t making any money from it.
Basically, they carried on doing what they were doing even when it seemed like there was no point to any of it!
So why wouldn’t this be what I have to do?
It just makes sense that no special privileges will be granted to me, just because I want them. I’ll have to continuing showing up and prove to the universe that I’m serious first.
Practice For Two Years (At Least!)
Goins also wrote a popular blog post on the subject, titled, “Why You Should Practice Every Day for Two Years Before You Expect to Succeed.” I read that post a couple of years ago, and I think it helped mentally prepare me for what’s to come.
It made me realize that it’s highly unlikely for any kind of “success” to come quickly, and it made me focus on the process instead — the hard work of actually taking action on my goals and following through on my commitment to myself, despite the lack of positive feedback (or really feedback of any kind).
Even if I make no money from this experiment, or if only a handful of people read my hundreds of articles, I will have done the important part of learning.
Each time I sit down and write, each time I create something, or follow through on an idea that arises and turn it into a piece of writing, I’m building a valuable skill. I’m stretching and strengthening a muscle.
I’m also creating a writing habit, and that might be the most important factor of all.
Get Serious About Your Art, Even If No One Else Is
“If you’re serious about your art, share it. Every day. In public. This is how you get good at your craft and how you ultimately build an audience.” — Jeff Goins
Ah yes, so that’s why I’m doing this!
I’m giving myself the opportunity to be found, even though there are no guarantees.
I’m making my work findable, and I’m doing so by being consistent and persistent with my practice.
But I think, more than that, I’m giving myself the chance to engage in this little experiment. I’m allowing myself to see what happens when I really go for it; when I dedicate myself to something I’ve always had lingering in the back of my mind.
I’m finally giving myself permission to just do it already, for no other reason than it feels like something I might want to try.
Seth Godin has said that if it scares you, it might be a good thing to try.
Well, this challenge does scare me.
All kinds of doubts tag right alongside the excitement: What if I can’t do it? What if nothing happens after two years? What if nothing EVER happens? What if people belittle me?
But I still know that I have to do it, for me. I have to know what’s possible. There is something telling me that I must do this.
Now’s the right time to find out.
Do you sometimes wonder why you’re still writing, even when no one seems to be listening?
What keeps you going? Please share in the comments.