100 stories on Medium in 100 days

I’m on a mission. I’ve set a goal to write 100 stories in 100 days.

Why? Writing is an art just like any other creative endeavor. You can have the basic skills, but it takes plenty of practice to be good at it.

I’ve been writing my entire life. When I was 11 years old, I got a typewriter for Christmas (You know, one of those things with ribbons and keys? If you’re a Millennial, ask your parents). My Mom told the story for years about how when I opened it up on Christmas morning, I told her “This is the best Christmas ever!”

Kinda weird, huh?

But I was that kind of kid. The kind that went door-to-door in my neighborhood asking what’s going on, so I could put together my own neighborhood newspaper. I would bug my Dad to make copies (he worked for a copy machine company!). Then, I’d go back to those same homes and try to sell them my “newspaper” for a quarter. Kind of prepared me for the digital age where online journalists have to look for funding, I guess.

I realized I liked telling stories, but true ones — news.

While everybody else hated writing assignments in high school, I liked them when they were fact-based. I became the sports editor for the newspaper and the editor of the yearbook. In college, I went into — what else — journalism and worked at the college TV station producing and writing news stories.

Now, it’s been 30 years working in the TV business. Thousands and thousands of news stories later (who knows how many actually!) and I’ve realized I’m still perfecting my craft.

Setting a goal

So I’ve decide to exercise that muscle a little more. 100 articles in 100 days sounds like a difficult goal if I expect the content to be of any value to anybody else. Ultimately, you’ll decide if you choose to read any of it. I’ve sprinkled some of the articles throughout this one.

The thing I’ve learned about myself is that I have to set a goal and then break down the strategies to achieve that goal. Becoming a better writer is the real goal, but to get there, I had to commit to write on a regular, daily basis.

I’m about halfway through. It’s been 66 days. I’ve posted 89 articles. I’ve actually written a lot more, but went back and deleted more than a few because they just didn’t advance the story far enough, create a unique insight, or make a significant point. Like I said, writing takes practice. Having something of value to share with someone else takes practice, too.

What I’ve learned along the way

What I’ve learned along the way is remarkable.

The more I do it, the more curious I get. It seems to take longer to write each piece because every answer leads to another question. When your name is on it — your real name, not some fake Facebook or Twitter name — it’s your reputation.

I was writing an article today about how some news publishers I know are seeing a big drop in their traffic coming from Facebook in the past few months. I almost got lost in spreadsheets and on the internet (notice — capital I is gone?) trying to find out whether other publishers were seeing the same thing. Once I figured out that it appears to be a real thing — and not an isolated thing — it led me to look for a cause. Then, I wanted to find some independent research that proves it out. Then, I had to background the source to make sure it was legitimate.

After all that, all I had was a set of facts. While interesting (to me), I can tell you the facts in one sentence: Publishers are seeing a 42% decrease in reach using Facebook. I needed to find that thread to make it an interesting story. Without a good story, readers often will ignore the best set of facts. That’s why I constructed the article around the concept of how crack dealers employ growth strategies similar to what Facebook seems to be doing.

Then, you’ve still got to find (or creative)a compelling image!

You see how this goes?

One thing leads to another

Becoming a better writer, at least for me, meant I had to become more curious. In turn, that led me to be a better researcher and analyst. I have become more versed in my own industry. What I’ve learned has helped me in my real job. What made the difference? Simply being aware and constantly looking for trends, research, and observations wasn’t enough. I had to see if I could add anything original and valuable using my years of experience.

Along the way I’ve learned things I would never have known. I’ve researched topics deeper than I ever have before. I’ve spent time thinking about the impact of what I’m reading. I’ve been reading a lot more.

Great content takes time.

It takes thought. It takes insight. It takes work. And it takes practice. Anybody can regurgitate someone else’s work. That’s what I did for years when I used to re-write wire copy for newscasts or post summaries on the website. But this means putting some thought into it and creating something of value and I’d created an aggressive timetable: 100 stories in 100 days.

But remember the underlying reason. It’s not to create the perfect article every time out (although I’d like that a lot). It’s to be a better writer and that was going to mean a routine of writing every day.

Question, Research, Analyze, Write.

I’m sure a lot of what I am writing will be trash. There will be a few more grammatical errors than there should be. We know the Medium readers will highlight them all!

But I can already tell my skills are improving. It’s not just that writing is getting better or easier to do. It’s that my curiosity is peaked. I’m more attuned to what’s going on in the subjects I’m interested in. I’ve learned so much more about my own industry and the monumental changes that are taking place.

You know the line about teaching old dogs new tricks?

I don’t accept the “old” part, but I certainly have learned some new tricks. Isn’t that what life is all about? Learning and growing.

Hopefully, there will be a few stories along the way… or something to make you think differently… or even just a smile. Let me know what you think.

Here’s the one story so far that’s gotten thousands of views, the most reads, and the most recommends.

This makes 90.

If you liked what you’ve read, please click that little heart (you know where it is) or follow me. Thanks for reading!

While a lot of my stories appear in various publications across Medium (depending on topic), you can also check out my two publications: Digital Vault and SportsRaid

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