What I learned about writing from a few days of sort of not writing

For the last four months I’ve written a blog post every day. This is the result of a somewhat random challenge I gave myself last November to see if I could do it for a whole year. I’ve managed to keep it up partly because I love it but also because I’m quite stubborn.

It’s hard to quantify the value I’ve taken from doing so much consistent writing. My style has improved, I’ve become faster, I look at things differently because I never know where the next source of inspiration will come from, it was a single blog post that started the whole idea for #NoFilterFeb; basically, what started off as a simple challenge has become so integral to my daily routine now and has shed light on so many opportunities.

But it’s not easy. Every day I have to make time to just think. I don’t have a set routine for this either. For a while I was getting up at 5.15am to write before my runs, other times I would write notes on my phone on my walk to work. I’ve also had several nights where I’ve cursed this stupid project because I’ve left it so late and I just want to go to sleep. The most notable of these was at SXSW when I got home from a night out at 2am and still hadn’t written my post. I got it done but I was my own worst enemy by the time I hit publish at 3 o’clock.

However, despite it not being easy I realised this week that I really love doing it. This came about because for the last four days I bent the rules slightly when it came to writing every day. I was exceptionally busy at work as well as having a lot of other commitments too. On top of this it was coming up to my birthday weekend and I thought that perhaps it’d be a good idea to revisit some old material to give myself a head start. So I decided to use the bones of my old travel notes to write a four part Central America travel tips post.

With these posts, for the most part I still rewrote them, I just had a huge head start. Instead of needing to come up with my topic fresh, it was more an editing job. Instead of spending up to an hour writing, it was more like twenty minutes.

And I really, really disliked it. Rather than enjoying the fact I’d bought some time back, I felt like I was cheating myself.

As this writing project has developed, it has fundamentally changed the way I look at my day. With a daily deadline, I need to observe things with a different view point and find inspiration or opinion in things that might ordinarily go unnoticed. And for the past four days, I basically closed that door.

I’m glad I’ve written up the Central America ones. They document some pretty fun stuff Kieran and I did when we were travelling and serve a useful purpose for people thinking of going to the same places. But I’m looking forward to getting back to the unknown. In a way that I never expected, writing has become part of a routine that I feel quite dependent on. It’s fun, challenging, oddly therapeutic, and above all else an incredible documentation of where my head is at. And this one can serve the purpose of reminding me that.

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