“Are you out of your mind?” 

A couple of years ago, having been spotty — to put it kindly — in my blogging schedule, I tried a public experiment: Write a post a day.

And after a month, I was proudly able to celebrate having blogged every single day (OK, weekday) for a straight month. There was a slight vacation interlude, so I only counted days since then. Because I’m that tough on myself. I’m my own tiger mom. No praise for you! Get back to your piano scales! Four more hours and then you get an organic carrot stick!

When I’d first announced to the world (the “world” being the 4-figure number of people aware of my blog) that I’d be writing every day, a prominent blogger whose very site name had the promise of delivering something every day built right in — hint: The Daily [rhymes with glove] — said to me, “Are you out of your mind?”

Yes, I was out of my mind. He was right. 

If you’re thinking of writing a post a day, you can be sure of one thing:

This sh*t’s hard.

But I wasn’t sorry I took it on. 

I generated a ton of material, and learned a lot — which came in handy one day when I had nothing else to write about. I made that into a post. 

And this is it. 

Here’s what I learned from writing every day for a month. (Posted back when I was doing it. I did find it unsustainable for the long haul, though I think if I did short posts that didn’t require any graphics or proofreading or energy and though in sharing, it would still be a valuable, worthwhile business practice.)

1) The more you write, the more you write

Studies I don’t feel like googling show, the physical act of writing stimulates neurons and generates ideas. I think for it to really work, you’re supposed to write by hand, with pen and paper. But that hurts my hand. And who the hell has a working pen? Not this household, that’s for sure. Woe to the delivery man who shows up with no pen. I’ll have to sign that Grand Sichuan receipt with our one functioning writing utensil, the pencil I keep in the toolbox with the stuff for hanging paintings.

When I wasn’t writing, I kept not writing, because I couldn’t think of anything new to say. All I had to talk about, as far as I was concerned, was the fact that I had nothing to say. What I’ve realized is…

2) “I’ve got nothing” is a legitimate topic.

I wrote about having nothing to say as one of my daily posts, and I’ll write about it again. You’ve been warned.

3) The stress of having to write every day is equal to but way better than the stress of not having written for months.

One is the “Oy, so much to-do” kind, which I’ll take any day over the “I’m a f*ck-up” kind.

4) Having a daily blog is kind of like having a baby.

{Ducks as actual parents throw tomatoes, molotov cocktails, and diapers full of fresh baby poo at head}
But it’s true, it’s true! It wakes me up several times a night, I get up earlier than is natural for my late-sleeping self to take care of it, sometimes I feel a cold-hearted lack of love for it and wonder if I was meant to have it, but then it smiles at me and suddenly it’s all worth it. Until I realize that’s just gas.

5) Having a daily blog is kind of like being a recovering alcoholic.

{Ducks as recovering alcoholics throw empty seltzer bottles at head}
No really, I cling to that 12-step staple, the “one day at a time” mantra. (Maybe I should’ve said Valerie Bertinelli instead of recovering alcoholic.) When I think about writing every single weekday for eternity, I want to eat my own face. I can’t handle that idea. But just today. That’s all I have to deal with. Just write it today, and then tomorrow, we’ll see. No promises.

6) It doesn’t have to be long.

It can be a single thought, like this. (Dammit, this line could’ve been its own blog post.)

7) If Seth Godin can do it, I can do it.

Seth Godin is the person who inspired me to do this. He’s been writing his blog every single day for over 10 years. I listened to him talking about it on a podcast and his take is: a) Who goes a day without having something to say? Writing is just talking, and nobody has talker’s block. b) “Shipping” — what he calls the act of putting something out there for other people to consume — is way more important than making the thing perfect.

If Seth can do it every day, I can do it. Because who is he? Just a normal person, like me, right? Actually, no, he’s genius who never says anything less than brilliant. But so what, I can still follow his example.

8) When you produce a lot, the failures mean a lot less.

[Tweet “When you produce a lot, the failures mean a lot less. Via @lbelgray”]

When I was putting out one post a week, or, sometimes, a season, if it didn’t get a lot of comments and likes and shares, I was crushed. Now, when I put out a post that barely gets a shrug, so what, who cares? There’s always the next day’s. And there’s always yesterday’s. They can’t all be gems.

9) I am an approval whore and a liar.

What I said in #8? Not entirely true. (That’s the liar part.) When a post doesn’t get attention, I never really say “So what?” I want to not care, but I spend all day checking Facebook and refreshing the post to see how many likes and comments it got. And then, if the answer is “very few,” I say, “so what?” and shut the browser window. And then I open it again and check 2 seconds later. I believe the “so what,” I just haven’t quite internalized it yet. It’ll happen, though.

And, I do get over the disappointment way faster. Because the next day, I’m on to the next post. Peace out, yesterday!

10) The lame ones are part of the process.

I’m trying to look at the stuff that’s not as good as an essential part of the stuff that’s great. It’s a warm up. A batting-average kind of thing. The strip of fat around the steak. Actually, not really, because I like that part and I’ll eat it when no one’s looking.

There are plenty of nature metaphors and/or song lyrics for this idea. Every rose has its thorn. Every wheat stalk has its chaff. (Is that right? Does wheat come in stalks? I only see it once it’s made its way into the bread or spaghetti). Every banana has its peel, along with the black thing at the bottom and those stringy things on the inside of the peel that stick to the banana. They are awful, and the banana itself isn’t that great, and makes a horrible noise when you eat it, but you get what I’m trying to say here.

11) If you write a list, don’t number the items till the end.

You’re a fool to think you won’t re-order them. A fool.

12) People really can change.

I’ve helped a lot of life coaches with their website copy. “Close the gap between your sad-sack self and the person you want to be” is the essence of most of it. And often, I can’t help thinking, What you do sounds great. But does it work? Because does anyone really ever change?

And now, I’m thinking, yes. Because I changed into someone who writes every day.

Next up: changing into someone who’s neat.

13) It’s all about one friend.

When I don’t feel like writing, or don’t think I have anything worth writing, I think about one friend who’s said she (or he) loves reading my posts and has made it part of the morning routine. OK, today I’ll write just for that friend. And if no one else reads it or likes it, so what, who cares?

No, really, WHO CARES?

One day, I’ll believe that.

Now you.

Have you developed any kind of new habit or discipline lately? Have you thought about it? Is there anything you have to deal with doing every day because you promised you would?

Or have you learned anything new about anything?

Or, do you have nothing to say? You can talk about that, too.

Tweet me! @lbelgray.