It took me 137 days to get to 100 posts, including writing ten posts today, pumped on cold and flu tablets. But my excuse is strong: on day 87 we had our first child. I underestimated how much that would slow my roll.
You can read all the posts here.
Some observations from the exercise:
- The 100 posts generated about 90,000 views.
- That was much less important than learning that often, something I published would impact someone in a surprising way. Posts with a measly 35 views, would nonetheless illicit an email from a friend or stranger telling me that the writing mattered and that I should keep going.
- Writing for page-views was soul-destroying. In the end, I decided instead to write for a mirror image of myself, and hope that I might be surprised by someone’s response to it.
- Most posts took me 20–30 minutes to write, usually as the last thing I did before bed. There were some exceptions. A Better Australia took me half a day.
- The key to the whole thing was the #100day commitment. I had to write something, so I artificially lowered the bar many times, just to get something published.
- The old adage ‘write what you know’ makes it easier to write, but doesn’t necessarily make you a more interesting writer.
- Anytime an essay had too many ‘I’s or references to my personal experience, the interested audience effectively shrunk down to my friendship group. It’s hard to be engaged in an ‘I’ story with someone you don’t know.
- The two most popular posts — We Live In The Future & Twenty-Five Times Running Shoe Designers Lost Their Freaking Minds — support this theory. Both posts were impersonal, rant-y, listicle-y, image-heavy.
- I never knew what would connect with people. I was not a good judge of popularity. For example, I almost didn’t publish Twenty-Five Times because I thought it was so weak. Then it got 35,000 views in a matter of days.
- Writing a popular post made it really hard to write a follow-up — and it inevitably felt like a letdown when no-one read it.
- Sometimes I had to write the bad posts to clear space for the good ones. In an ideal world, you wouldn’t publish the bad ones. The complexity being, that the only way to clear the bad ones was to actually publish them. Without that forcing function, they never would get cleared.
- The whole experience made me think I was both a good and bad writer. I’m a good writer because I can occasionally convey a compelling idea in a short space of time. I’m a bad writer because I use too many words, leave too many sentences, start paragraphs with ‘and’, and ‘so’, repeat myself stylistically, and don’t have that many compelling ideas.
- Good writing takes an enormous amount of discipline and sculpting. #100days of writing doesn’t necessarily allow for those in sufficient amounts.
- I get the feeling that with persistence, I’d build a dedicated audience. The first three months of writing went — 4,442 views, 9,763 views, 58,358 views. Then the baby came, and I lost a little brainpower and a lot of time.
- I get the feeling that one day I’ll have a book in me.
- The most fun posts to write, the most meaningful posts to share, don’t get the most views. I sympathise with musicians who have a popular song that they don’t fully believe in.
- Writing for #100days was one of the best things I did this year.
- I started looking all throughout the day for seeds that could grow into stories. I started mentally clipping ideas and phrases and feelings to refer back to. That made the world more interesting.
- Writing forced me to own and clarify my thoughts. It made me feel smarter and more confident. It gave me a better sense of who I am.
If you only read ten posts, I think you should read:
- What To Look For In People
- Three Staggering Stories Of Loss
- Unexpected Joy On The Road To Fatherhood
- On Father’s Day 2015
- What My Mother Taught Me
- What Real Men Do
- In America, You Choose To Go To The Moon
- What I Want For My Son
- Closing The First Loop
- The Avalanche of Parenthood.
Finally, if you read anything that connected, please email me. I’d love to know. nicholascrocker at gmail dot com.
Thanks for reading.