My 31-Day Writing Challenge — Lessons Learned 3 Months Later

Looking back on the challenge’s benefits with long-term hindsight

Paul Ryburn, M.Sc.
Apr 22 · 5 min read
money on top of a calendar page
Photo credit jppi on Morguefile

During the month of January, I embarked on a 31-day writing challenge. Every day that month, I published. On the 31st day, I published an article recapping the writing challenge and what I had learned.

Recently I read I’m Starting My Own 30 Day Medium Challenge by Y. Chwyldro, and it made me think back to my own writing challenge, now nearly three months in the rearview mirror.

Did the fact that I stopped writing every single day affect my earnings?

Other than money, what were the most important benefits I reaped from having done the challenge?

What activities do I do less of, now that the challenge is complete?

Let’s jump into the answers.

My earnings in January 2021 were about 295% of my December 2020 earnings. However, I wrote more than twice as much in January as I did in December, so that’s not surprising.

I continued publishing 1 article a day through February 14, then slowed down to 5 articles a week, based on a Sunday-Saturday week. The only two weeks I failed to make my quota of 5 were the two I got my COVID-19 vaccine doses.

I published less. Did my earnings go down?

  • February earnings were 176% of January earnings
  • March earnings were 251% of February earnings

My earnings went up, even though I published less frequently. I attribute this to several factors:

  • Old articles = passive income. They don’t stop making money once the month is over. My January 2021 articles (and the ones older than that) still generate read time. Now they’ve been joined by my February, March, and April articles. So I have added more entries into the read-time lottery, but my old entries are still performing.
  • I’m getting distributed considerably more since the end of my 31-day challenge (really, since around the first week of February). That means those who go to Medium’s topics pages to find stuff to read are finding more of my articles — particularly if they browse Writing, Creativity, Mindfulness, or Self.
  • I get followed by 3 to 10 new people a day, so I have more followers than I had during the writing challenge.
  • I’ve turned into an idea machine. I can go to bed on a Saturday night without a clue what I’m going to write about the following week. Yet I have total faith in myself that I will come up with 5 solid topics to write about. Rarely do I step out of the shower without bringing an idea with me. I see ideas everywhere as I walk through life.
  • The 31-day challenge caused me to see myself as a writer, not a hobbyist who dabbles in writing. When you do the same thing every day for 31 days, it starts to become your identity. Since then, I’ve been introducing myself as a writer when I meet people. Although, sometimes I do forget, and I wrote an article about that.
  • I read more, I listen to more podcasts, and I view more vlogs. I do this to keep the well of ideas from running dry, but in doing so I’ve learned valuable lessons that I have applied to my own life. That’s why I tell people that my writing career is not a separate entity from my spiritual practice. They are very much intertwined.
  • Read the work of other Medium writers — And I really kind of hate that. I love connecting with fellow writers here. I especially love giving encouragement to new writers, because I’ve been there and haven't forgotten what it’s like. I used to spend hours a day reading the work of other writers. Nowadays, though, if I have two free hours and an idea, writing takes precedence over reading.
  • Go to bars — I love my friends and want to be out among them 7 days a week. However, every day I go out represents hours and hours I’m not writing, plus I’m not necessarily at my best the next day. It makes no sense to go out and spend money when I could stay home and make money. I’m still trying to find the right balance here. If I don’t get 2 full writing days a week I feel like I’m not stepping into the best version of myself. 4 writing days a week is even better. 5 or more and I’m missing ideas by not being out in the world.
  • Check social media — Let me make it clear, I am not one of those “delete your Facebook account, put your phone in another room when you write” type of people. When I say I check social media less, I mean that now I look at Facebook maybe 40 times a day, compared with 75 times a day prior to the writing challenge. Still, that’s progress, right?

Takeaway

If you can devote the time to do a 30- or 31-day writing challenge, I recommend it. Not only will your earnings rise, but you’ll see other benefits in your writing life. You’ll also find that you have to cut some habits back to make time for your writing.

What if you simply cannot devote the time to write every day for 30 or 31 days? The top writers on here all tell you, the goal is not so much quantity as it is consistency. It’s making a habit of showing up to write a certain number of times per week, whether you feel like it or not — and even if you don’t have an idea.

My recommendation if your time is limited would be to stretch yourself. Make a commitment that’s uncomfortable but not impossible. If you’ve been averaging 1 article a week, shoot for 3 a week for a month. If you’ve been averaging 3, shoot for 4 or 5.

Like the young Beatles putting in long hours 7 nights a week in Hamburg, a 30- or 31-day writing challenge will force you to get really good, really fast. What were the main takeaways from your writing challenge? Let me know in the comments.

Let’s keep in touch! Feel free to sign up for my newsletter. Here’s more about the Beatles’ adventures in Hamburg and how they can inspire you as a writer:

30-Day Challenge

The home of 30-day challenges on Medium

Paul Ryburn, M.Sc.

Written by

I write about writing, ideas, creativity, intuition, spirituality, life lessons. Ex-college teacher https://www.buymeacoffee.com/paulryburn Twitter: @paulryburn

30-Day Challenge

Become a better writer in 30 days with a writing challenge.

Paul Ryburn, M.Sc.

Written by

I write about writing, ideas, creativity, intuition, spirituality, life lessons. Ex-college teacher https://www.buymeacoffee.com/paulryburn Twitter: @paulryburn

30-Day Challenge

Become a better writer in 30 days with a writing challenge.

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