Story: Why I choose to write an article every day

Why and how I started writing daily articles. My approach at becoming a better writer.

Story: Why I choose to write an article every day
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters / Unsplash

I enjoy reading and writing. And although I still read a lot, I didn't write as much as I used to. I had a blog in the past that, due to some articles, got an acceptable amount of traffic. Sometimes, the site would only receive a few visitors for weeks, but then it would acquire 300 distinct visitors in other weeks. This, to me, was shocking since actual strangers were reading what I had to write.

Sure, when I started writing, I had the grandiose idea of writing a blog that would attract millions. Still, after writing a few articles, I noticed that writing is hard and takes time. The biggest problem, at least for me, was that I had plenty of subjects to discuss, but I decided not to do it for some reason. Reasons ranged from the boring subject to needing to determine how to approach the subject matter.

When I started blogging again a while (before the daily articles) ago, I decided to write about things that I found interesting. Something that I find essential and hold dear. I occasionally researched the subject's interest by using google trends, but that turned out to be a terrible approach; before I knew it, I had 20 tabs open about the issue and related fields and discovered that my research might require additional work. Hello, self-doubt. Please take a seat while I show self-confidence where the door is.

It also doesn't help my area of interest is broad. To name a few: software development, politics, social behavior, physics, games, sports, etc. And not in the "I enjoy that" category but in the "I want to be better at it and tell others about it."

Let me be clear that I often fail at being better, but I'm more than happy to keep making mistakes until they are no longer mistakes. In fact, I would define success as "attempts that no longer fail."

The first time I joined an online political discussion, it went terribly wrong. The first time I wrote forum software, it was full of mistakes. And when I read a book by Steve Hawkins, I got an enormous headache by the second chapter simply because it involved many unknowns. It was the first time I felt out of my debt.

However, I kept joining the political discussion, looked at how the more respected community members acted and how people would respond to them, and improved on that. When I thought TDD (test-driven development) was silly, I decided to write an entire project in a TDD style until I noticed that my behavior was changing. I was writing way fewer bugs, and even the design improved.

So after registering a domain and installing some blogging software, I was ready to write. But about what? My interest is so broad, and I don't like the "expert" label even though I have much in-depth knowledge. This includes those few times I was more versed in the subject than the expert. So after starting many articles but only publishing a few, I decided to stop. Self-doubt due to research prevented me from posting, and the broad range prevented the blog from having any focus.

The change

The change happened when our office visited a software conference a few weeks ago. I noticed that most speakers seemed unfamiliar with storytelling. Their stories didn't have structure and didn't use any standard literary devices, such as the rule of three. Some even got confused while telling their own stories got lost in their presentation, and started repeating their own story.

On top of that, most of the subject matter was for the general audience (this was also their target audience).

And it was at this point I was convinced I could easily do the same thing and better. Any presentation, whether it is teaching or the latest financial forecast, is storytelling. A story doesn't have to be lengthy but must be well crafted. Even the people who prefer the cold hard facts will like a short story over regurgitating numbers from a spreadsheet. So if one has the knowledge, ability (and the arrogance to think so), why not test it. But how?

And this is when I recalled that when I blogged in the distant past, I learned a lot about writing. I even remember deleting a few posts a year later when I realized how poorly written they were. As a trainer, I have learned the importance of the feedback loop.

So a week ago, I set out to write an article every day for at least two weeks. This has to purpose of becoming comfortable with writing again. There are, of course, a few challenges. The first was my writing skill, the second was the speed of writing (I'm a slow writer), and finally, the subject. The first two could only be solved by practice, and I completely bypassed the last challenge by ignoring it. Writing daily would be difficult enough, and I wanted to avoid getting stuck by writing something that didn't hold my passion, which is fickle as it is.

My final decision was to post the articles in at least two locations. This is mainly to make the pieces more visible but also to add a stake to them. That way skipping a day would be more painful.

Today's article is number 8 of 14. It's also the third subject that I started writing today. But it's ready becoming a whole lot easier than the first article.

Progress is achieved by repeating and being willing to fail until one succeeds. Success is, after all, an attempt that hasn't failed.