For the last 7 days, I have been participating in a writing challenge with my friend Aurora. You can read about the writing challenge. The main intention of the challenge was to prove to myself that I could commit to writing something every single day. Doing the activity at a high frequency to see if I can build a habit of it. Now on day 7, I can successfully say that I have accomplished this goal.
Here are four key insights I learned from this challenge and will apply to going forward.
1. Quantity (high frequency) leads to quality.
The average article took around two hours to produce a draft. With one article taking 20 minutes and another taking 6+ hours. Is the article that took 6+ hours that much better than the 20-minute article?
The majority of the articles were quite generic — with a few insights here and there but no big picture, connecting the dots, exploring real insight or depth. I wrote similar to Fred Wilson vs. spending real-time to produce content that will be referenced for years, like Paul Graham.
Looking back on the 6 articles I wrote helped me to find my writing voice and gave me an understanding of what topics I am motivated to write: long thought out Paul Graham style essays.
“Every great composer practiced for at least 10 years before they wrote their master work.”Malcolm Gladwell
2. Magic can happen when in the zone.
Each day the topic that I wrote about was based on experiences I had that day and I would free flow to write. I do believe that true genius can arise from that which is not planned. That is the moment of magic.
Jonah Hill for the movie “The Wolf of Wallstreet” improvised his entire performance. He was in the zone and had been rehearsing for this part his whole life. In addition, Melissa McCarthy for her role in Bridesmaids improvised the majority of her part. It’s that moment when you train your whole life for that overnight success.
3. Do it every day to see if it sticks.
After writing every day for an entire week I realized how much I enjoyed this process. By doing it every day it forced me to turn this into a habit which now I can see the value in making writing a normal behavior.
Marc Zuckerberg coined the term “done is better than perfect.” In startup land, you will hear people say over and over “just ship it.” Getting the product out into the world to get feedback as soon as possible.
4. Your best work can not be forced.
“I just took a deep breath and it came out. The whole song. Stream of consciousness: words, music, chords. Finished it. I mean, I just played it into a tape recorder and I played the whole song and I never played it again. I actually only spent three and a half minutes on that whole song. So I’d come back for days playing that tape, thinking there must be something wrong here because this just came too easy. And then I realized that there’s probably nothing wrong at all.”Tom Petty
By forcing myself to write each day I might not have been always producing the best work. Each day there was pressure, feeling of being rushed and this pressure and time constraints can stifle creativity.
In conclusion, similar to the philosophy in which we have built our startup, Roomhints — if you are not shipping anything you are not learning, I am going to continue to write something every day but I will not publish it on Medium. I will publish at a low frequency but spend time to write articles that are memorable.