As you’ll know since you’re one of the 7 people that are reading my blogs consistently (thank you! And, I’m sorry!), I’m trying to improve my writing and build a stronger writing muscle and habit.
It’s been tough to figure out exactly how to reinforce this habit, write every day, and build a system that allows me to publish something meaningful and interesting.
I’ve also not yet really figure out the “why” behind why I’m doing this. Originally, it was because it’s just simply something I’ve wanted to do for years. Then with some pressure from friends and particularly friends from the proptech/property industry who feel like I’ve got a lot of interesting things to think and to say, I finally got going. I’d also owned this web domain for a while and of course always wanted to put it to work!
One complication behind the “why” is – whether this is truly – just for me as my first blog said – or if it’s to build an audience – or if it’s to be a thought leader. Or if it’s for some other reason. While I’m still figuring this out, I’d love to hear your thoughts about my writing or your own writing and how you think about this.
Before I figure this out…and I’m aware this may evolve and change naturally with time…I feel like the most important thing is just to simply commit. To stay disciplined. To write every day. And publish every Saturday.
I have failed on the first part of that commitment. I haven’t written every single day. But I’m able to forgive myself for this, as I’ve done well and probably hit 90% rather than 100%.
I have managed to publish every Saturday which I’m very proud of. This is now my 10th weekly blog 🎉
So, I’m hitting my weekly productivity goal! And this challenge of “putting myself” out into the world which is definitely part of the “why” is really helping.
The next step for me is to try to build up this daily muscle. I’ve tried all sorts of things. I find that being a tech guy, my arsenal of tools is really important for me to be able to build habits with. I journal every morning and evening in the “5 minute journal” which a friend bought for me. I write in my free form journal sporadically, but it tends to be more deep thinking and for some reason I tend to try to constrain myself to a page. I’ve also used Notion to write notes on my computer and in the app, Otter.ai which records and transcribes what I say into text, and Notes from Apple. Otter.ai has been really nice when I just want to talk out loud and get a stream of consciousness going.
But none of these have helped me form a habit.
Not that it makes sense to blame the tool! I could have tried habit stacking or habit linking. I could have tried many things. And I have, but it hasn’t totally worked yet. So I’ve just embarked on a new test.
Another friend of mine recently suggested a potential game changer.
I leave it open on my computer and also on mobile web. I’d love if it had an app but I’m happy using web. I don’t know all the features yet, but so far I’ve managed to write nearly every day in it – better than with any tool yet (other than social commitment when for a while I was doing daily calls with yet a different friend).
There are 3 key reasons why I’ve found Roam so useful and will happily pay for it following the end of the 2 week trial which is happening today:
- Dated Daily
- Every time I open Roam, it’s got today’s date gleaming at the top at me. It feels like it’s beckoning to help collect my daily wisdom/tripe.
- Other platforms of course date the entry but some like Notion, take a few extra clicks and steps to organise / title / name and that extra bit of faff makes it annoying and not as sticky as Roam has felt.
- It’s just so simple. Lots of white space. Full screen. Today’s date. Come at me.
- Hashing rather than Folders/Clicking
- By hash tagging, for instance #writing, Roam creates a separate page for anything that has been hash tagged #writing.
- It basically operates like a wiki for your thoughts. It makes it easy for you to see and organise linked thoughts, notes and passages. It’s great for research or just free form writing.
- I think of it like an intranet for my brain 🧠
- Smart search even without Hashing
- I was nearly sold on Roam when I was first show how the hashing worked. The attraction of Twitter like organisation for connected thoughts was compelling. But how could I possibly know all the subjects that I would care about making sure we’re linked together for future me? If I just tasked everything indiscriminately surely that would just create an absolute fuckery of my already somewhat mad mind, no?!
- Well, luckily, you don’t have to worry about hashing everything!
- You can search for words that might become themes you want to organise later and turn them into hashes!
So, all in all, I’m sure happy with Roam.
Is it just my recency bias?
Is it just the shiny new bauble in my life?
Or will the terror and joy of actually linking my thoughts and structuring my consciousness be possible with this interesting, simple and elegant new tool? Only time will tell but so far, it’s keeping me in line! My daily writing muscle is growing so let’s see if that can really stick. Once this sticks, hopefully, I can commit to some kind of improvement or evolution of my writing ability, technique and subject – but this discipline of daily writing is my foundational focus for now.
I too journal every day and it’s been helping me get the flow of words going. Am also working on my daily writing habit, but it’s more of quantity now rather than consistency. I’ve never missed a day of writing, but it’s often the word count that falls short. Slowly working on that. Thanks for sharing this interesting article!
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Hey Stuart, no problem! That’s great to hear you go for everyday consistency – and super impressive you’ve never missed a day!! Tell me more about the word count – what are you trying to hit? Why did you feel word count was a gold way to measure yourself? What’s been good/bad about it? Have you iterated from where you started? Any other key learnings? Would love to hear any and all!
I used to aim for 250 words, because it’s a small enough number that wouldn’t cause any dread, and I could get into the habit easily. It was slow going though, but I finished my second novel on just a diet of 250 words.
Nowadays I’m aiming for 500 words but I still think it’s far below the average. Still, I’m 60,000 words into my third WIP, so I guess that says something about consistency rather than month-long binges or something.
But writing is such a unique craft that we all have our own ways to get wherever we want to be, so there’s that.
Very cool – makes a ton of sense. Nice work! Incredible you have written a novel. And on 250 words a day, seems fantastic!
Love this – may have to check out Scrivener https://stuartdanker.com/2020/06/15/non-fiction-i-wrote-three-novels-with-different-tools/