Today it is the 15th day of my 30-day Medium writing challenge. I decided to write and publish a ~1000-word post every day for a month, to see how this would impact my writing flow — as well as my readership here on Medium.
Halfway through the experiment, I can already say that writing and publishing daily is not my cup of tea. I don’t see myself doing this long-term anywhere in the near future. However, because of the discomfort and discipline this challenge brings along, I am learning a lot from it.
The simple act of committing to something — and then allowing yourself to enjoy the process, no matter what — is a value in itself. Once you let go of control and let the process you designed for yourself guide you, insight into the matter at hand becomes almost inevitable.
Why am I doing this?
The idea of publishing daily has been haunting me for a while. I can see a lot of writers here on Medium publishing every day — sometimes even more than once — and thriving from it. On one hand, I doubted whether I could ever do the same. On the other, I was eager to try my hand at daily writing.
One important reason I decided to invest 30 days of my life into this experiment was the anxiousness around views and curation that I experienced. With every piece that I carefully crafted, I fretted over how it would do in terms of claps and exposure. I could see that this anxiety undermined the most important reasons why I write.
It was reducing my art to an externally validated pursuit — and I didn’t like that.
Giving myself a brand new chance to publish something every day seemed like a good idea for the cure. If I was to write a post in around two hours every morning (this is what I decided as a timeframe for my daily pieces), I had to accept that not all of these posts will get curated.
The point was to train myself in writing for the sake of writing — and not to get external validation in the form of curation or claps.
I wanted to allow myself more free flow in my work, while also practising a more conversational tone to connect with readers. I wanted to tell some stories that I wasn’t necessarily able to back up with research — but that I felt deserved to be articulated. I wanted to share some parts of my experience that I still don’t know how to make sense of — but that I saw a possibility of inspecting in more detail through writing.
Of course, I also wanted to see whether Medium algorithms will treat my stories in a different way if I keep publishing daily. I was curious about how this may impact the views I receive on my stories. I was also eager to check if it is actually possible for me to write with decent quality on a daily basis.
So, here are some of my preliminary findings.
What I’ve noticed so far
Let’s starts with the technicalities. My stats have improved a bit since I started publishing daily. It’s not an enormous increase, but you can see below that from May 20th — the day I started my challenge — my average daily views are noticeably higher.
What’s more, quite a lot of these stories got curated — more than I thought they would. This indicates that writing daily doesn’t necessarily mean that the quality of posts will be poor. Sure, I cannot really write an in-depth, researched article in two hours — but I can tell a personal story backed up with some links. And, apparently, quite a few of those stories were good enough for the curators to pick them.
Out of the 14 stories that I published as part of the challenge, 7 were picked by the curators. I am not counting in this one since I don’t know how it’ll do yet.
Apart from realizing that it’s possible for me to write decent quality posts in a relatively short amount of time, there are other personal benefits that I am reaping. One is that I get to write about some ideas I’ve had for a while — but I never tended to them because I was ultimately focusing on “bigger” stories. Now it feels very relieving to finally get some of these stories out. And even though I know I could go much more in-depth with them — it feels good to finally give them any shape.
Here I mean stories like Personal Growth Makes It Difficult For Me to Find a Partner or This Is What Working in Hospitality Has Taught Me. I might elaborate on these experiences more in the future. But having them out and knowing what resonates with readers — and what doesn’t — already gives me a hint as to which stories are worth exploring further.
Among other benefits, an important one is that I am also regaining the simple pleasure of free creation. Because I cannot afford to fret about each story every day, my approach to my own words is much more relaxed. I am refocusing on the process — rather than the outcomes — once again.
Why daily publishing is not my thing
With all those tangible benefits, why wouldn’t I publish daily in the long-term? On the surface, it seems (even to me) that writing daily could bring many rewards over time. More views, fans, decent quality and curation rate and, on top of that, writing in a more relaxed, stream-of-consciousness-like manner.
But there are two big downsides to daily writing that I already know I can’t accept in the long run. These downsides make me feel pretty sure that I will not carry this daily publishing regime beyond my 30-day challenge.
One thing I don’t like is that I cannot go deep enough into the problems or lessons I am bringing up. A big motivation for me to write is being able to learn from it myself. When pushing myself to publish daily, I may practice things like writing flow and conversational, storytelling tone. But while these are unquestionably valuable things — they don’t allow me to really reflect on the issues I care about.
All too often, it feels like I am merely scratching the surface of what has the potential to become insightful and even life-changing narratives.
But because I have limited time for each story, there is no possibility for creating such narrative — for example, through research or more deliberate structuring of the pieces. This is something I am not willing to compromise in the long run, because I feel that going deep should be the backbone of my art.
The second — and even more important — reason I don’t think publishing daily is my thing is that it limits my ability for introspection. And, as I see it, the ability for attentive and inquisitive introspection is a hallmark of a good writer — especially in the digital era when we are overflooded by shallow content.
The thing with introspection, though, is that it cannot happen as a task. I can’t simply secure 30 minutes before my daily writing and say that this is the time when I “do” the introspective work. That’s because this kind of work often happens spontaneously and unconsciously. And for it to happen, there needs to be a significant amount of empty space allowed.
The pressure to write and publish daily doesn’t allow me the necessary amount of empty space.
In my understanding, the job of a writer is not just about crafting words. This comes as the final stage of a more complex process. Beyond writing, this process consists of living, learning and experiencing — and that demands the writer to be flexible and willing to leave their agenda on the side. At least from time to time.
Of course, a certain amount of discipline is also necessary to make sure that the writing itself happens. To some, the right amount of discipline may be to publish daily — or even several times a day. But to me, this takes away from the crucial ingredients of introspection and experiencing the world around me.
And I know I have to make sure these ingredients find their way to the mixture. My writing and I suffer without them.