On daily writing

A month ago, I challenged myself to write and publish every day for 30 days. I’ve been interested in writing for a while and had previously started a newsletter, but got overwhelmed and stopped after just two issues. I’ve heard from many people that consistency is key, so the goal of this challenge was to build a habit.

To commemorate day 30 of my writing challenge, here are my top learnings.

#1 Focus on writing, forget about everything else

Part of why I overwhelmed myself with the newsletter a couple of years ago was attempting too many things at once. I got caught up in things like naming the newsletter, wanting each issue to be perfect, and trying to build an audience.

This time, my approach has simply been to write and publish, for an audience of one: myself. Not only has it been much more enjoyable, but I’ve also been able to follow my curiosities without worrying about what someone else might like reading. Of course, if I want this newly developed habit to turn into something more, I’ll eventually have to consider all those other things. But first, I need to earn the right by writing consistently.

#2 Consistent writing helps maintain other good habits

When I challenged myself to write for 30 days, I didn’t really think about weekends. Let’s just say I’ve probably been more disciplined over the last month than in any other similar period I can remember.

It’s also helped me stick to other frequent habits like meditation, journaling, exercising, and reading. Consistency and discipline in one area breeds consistency and discipline in other areas. It’s been a great way to start my sabbatical.

#3 Writing improves creativity and clarity of thought

This one’s kind of obvious. “The best way to learn is to teach” is a common aphorism. While writing isn’t quite teaching, it helps you understand ideas more deeply than just reading or talking about them.

I chose to write about various topics like psychology, life philosophies, rhetoric, mental models, personal development, and political philosophy to name a few. This let me explore my interests and boost creativity by enabling me to make connections I didn’t previously see.

#4 Writing dramatically shifts the create-consume balance

Daily writing made me realize how much time I spent consuming content and how little time I devoted to creating things.

That said, I haven’t been able to spend as much time reading books as I’d like. So my ideal writing frequency will likely be 2 or 3 times a week going forward, with other days focused on more purposeful consumption. That feels like the right balance—enough writing to keep the habit going, but not so much that it feels like a chore.

#6 AI tools are helpful for editing, but not yet for generating truly interesting ideas

I used Notion AI to edit my final draft a few times. It’s helped immensely with that, but it wasn’t great at generating outlines or blog posts (yes, I tried). You could probably get really good results by improving the prompts and adding personal context, but that would likely take as much work as writing itself.

To be fair, I haven’t pushed the limits of the available tools, but that would defeat the purpose of writing for me. Given my experience building Edgi, I plan to write more about ChatGPT, Notion AI, and the hundreds of other AI language tools currently emerging and developing.

#7 Writing forces you to take a step back

Another unexpected benefit of writing regularly is that I’m less likely to get caught up in the daily news cycle. I’ve been focused on broader, timeless ideas rather than those relevant for just a few days.

It’s been a great reminder that the news will always continue but whether I engage with it or not is a conscious choice. I feel much less interested in endlessly scrolling on Twitter, though we’ll see how long that lasts.

#8 Writing feels good (on most days)

I’d be lying if I said that these 30 days have been a breeze. There were definitely times I wished I didn’t have to write.

But overall, writing has been a really enjoyable activity. I’ve found that writing at night is the most productive for me and it allows me to really get into a state of flow. As an added bonus, I’ve discovered some great playlists that are perfect for staying focused and writing.