Today officially concludes my one-year daily blogging challenge that I committed to a little over a year ago. I started on December 24, 2019 and have published a new blog post or video every day since them. So that’s 374 days in a row if you include today’s post.
As you can verify from the blog archives, I successfully completed the challenge.
I’ve been blogging every year since I started in 2004, but this is the first year that I’ve published something new every single day. This was an interesting experience, so I’ll share some thoughts about what it was like, some of which might surprise you.
I had no doubts that I could and would cross the finish line. As I’ve noted before, these kinds of challenges are won or lost in our minds before we begin Day 1. Quitting or skipping a day wasn’t a temptation at any point. I was all-in with this from the beginning.
Partly I did this as a gift to my future self. It creates a powerful new reference experience. I now know what it’s like to publish something every day for more than a year, and for the rest of my life, I’ll always know that I’m capable of at least that much. Even 20 years from now, I’ll be able to remember that in the wild year of 2020, I published something new every single day.
I’ve created and published more new material this year than in any previous year of my life. I’ve been earning a living from my creativity since 1994, so I have a lot of years of that behind me. It seems I still have a lot of years of that ahead of me too.
A New Level of Creative Output
I would estimate that I created and published around 400,000 new words of material to my blog this year, which is about 5x the length of my book Personal Development for Smart People.
Additionally, I recorded and published the new Stature course this year. That course is more than 16 hours of audio, which would be around 160,000 words (more if you count the bonuses too). So that bumps it to about 560,000 words for the year – all published.
Beyond this I wrote hundreds of Conscious Growth Club forum posts, which are privately published in our members-only forums. And there were 36 new CGC video coaching calls with educational segments plus 4 new quarterly review calls, all published for CGC members. Then there was material recorded for outside sources like interviews, which would bump it even higher. And this doesn’t count personal journal entries – I do a lot of journaling too, easily 100Ks more of words per year.
All together if you just count the new material created and published for the benefit of my blog readers, YouTube subscribers, and CGC members this year, I’d say it’s well beyond a million words of text, audio, and video. That may seem like a lot, but a million words in a year is only about 2700 words per day.
Oh yeah… in November I also wrote 55,051 words of a new novel for NaNoWriMo (currently unpublished). I’d love to work on that more in 2021.
Suffice it to say that this was my highest year of creative output ever. It adds a substantial amount to my lifetime body of published work, which was already in the millions of words. While the courses and CGC members-only materials are copyrighted, my blog posts, YouTube videos, and social media posts are uncopyrighted and donated to the public domain. So everyone is free to republish, translate, or to create derivative works (including for sale) from the new articles and YouTube videos I published this year and in all years prior.
It does feel nice to make a bigger personal contribution to the collective work of humanity this year. And it gives AI more to chew on as well.
So that’s the external side. Let me share a bit about what the personal experience was like since I know some people are curious to know about that.
The Experience of Daily Blogging for a Full Year
First off, this level of output was really no sweat. It may seem like it was a discipline challenge, but it didn’t land that way for me, and I didn’t expect that it would be particularly discipline-based before I started. I figured that I’d get into a decent rhythm early in the year, and then I’d mostly stick to that rhythm throughout the year. And that’s pretty much what happened.
I knew that this could be a miserable challenge if I resisted it at any point, so I built in enough flexibility in how I framed it before I started. There was no minimum word count, so some days I only wrote 300-500 words, which might take as little as 15-20 minutes. That gave me some nice flexibility on busier days. Most days I wrote considerably more, but it was nice to have the option to write less.
I knew that one post per day was a reasonable standard that I could trust myself to honor. I wasn’t going to write a whole year of crappy trivial posts just to meet the letter of the challenge. What would have been the point in doing that?
I also committed to daily publishing but not to daily writing. This allowed me to try batch blogging by writing extra posts in a single day and queueing them to be published one day at a time. I didn’t do a lot of batching throughout the year, but I did do this a few times, writing as many as 7-8 posts in one day or recording a batch of YouTube videos. That way I could take up to a week off from daily writing to give myself a little break here and there. For the vast majority of posts, however, I wrote them on the same day I published them.
I can say in retrospect that publishing something every day did feel meaningful. I don’t feel that not writing every single day reduced the feeling of accomplishment. In order to “earn” a day off, I had to pre-write material earlier, so that definitely didn’t feel like cheating.
The added flexibility of batch blogging was nice to have, but I didn’t lean on it as much as I thought I would. I still prefer to publish most material as soon as it’s done. It feels a bit weird to force an article to be held back for a few days once it’s ready. I feel more in sync with the flow of life when I share something immediately after creating it, and I think that syncs up better with the people who read the articles and watch the videos too.
I never created an editorial calendar or a mega-list of ideas to write about. I prefer to invite the flow of inspiration as a present-moment experience, as I shared previously in the How I Write article. So on almost all days of this challenge, I decided what I was going to write about just before I began writing each day. If you asked me an hour before I started writing what I was going to write about that day, I usually couldn’t have told you.
For the rare batch blogging days, I would generate the ideas on the same day I wrote those posts. One day I tried to pre-outline some article ideas on index cards, planning to write those articles the next day. I ended up scrapping all of those ideas because the energy behind them was too dead after 24 hours. The cards that felt lively on one day felt lifeless the next. It’s always a better experience if I give expression to ideas on the same day they show up. An idea is pretty much worthless when the inspirational energy that delivered it has receded. I have to ride the waves as they arrive. I can’t surf yesterday’s waves.
Testing the Limits of Creative Expression
One reason I wanted to do this challenge was to more deeply explore my relationship with creative expression. I gained some interesting realizations along these lines, but they didn’t come from the directions that I expected.
Before I committed to this challenge, I wondered what it would be like to demand more from the flow of inspiration. I’ve had a great connection with this flow for many years. I never get writer’s block. I was curious what would happen if I really amped up my output by demanding more from it than ever before.
It turned out that as I demanded more ideas, more ideas showed up with relative ease. I didn’t feel like I had to scrape the bottom of the barrel for more to write about. I actually feel like I did some of my best writing this year, and I received a lot of feedback to that effect as well. While I did write about some old and familiar topics, I also discovered and shared many new insights. And I stretched myself in a lot of different ways. This was a year of a lot of growth and change, and I always had plenty of ideas to explore through writing.
The coronavirus situation was a bit of a gift in that regard. This was a very different kind of year than I expected. I actually felt lucky that I picked this year for this challenge. I thought I was going to have to work around a lot of trips that I’d be taking this year, such as by writing some articles in airports, on planes, or at hotels, but I haven’t left Las Vegas since January. At least I got to visit the Panama Canal that month.
I thought the most interesting part of this challenge would be having to stretch myself to keep up with a faster creative flow. Would I need to develop new ways of accessing the flow of inspiration if my old way of interfacing proved inadequate? That part was actually pretty easy though. Demanding more ideas just invited more inspiration, and it never dried up. If there was a creative limit there, I never reached it.
That alone is a cool realization to have. It makes me feel a bit more ambitious about future creative work. I pushed myself along one creative dimension this year, and I felt connected to even more inspirational vastness.
It’s like playing the game where you fall backwards into someone else’s arms, and you have to trust that they’ll catch you. This year I fell into the arms of inspiration, and it caught me. Then it gave me a look that said, Was there ever any doubt?
I’ve long had an abundant relationship with the flow of creative expression. But this year it feels like I took that relationship to a new level of trust and depth. This is actually kind of exciting. I feel like it opens up a bigger world of possibilities. I’m not sure where I’ll take this next. I’d like to give myself some time and space after this challenge to ponder those possibilities. I still feel like I’m inside the challenge right now as I wrap it up.
I’m really looking forward to NOT doing the daily publishing in the coming year. It does take up significant creative bandwidth, and I want to see what else I can do with this bandwidth. I would like next year to have a lower volume of publishing, so I can explore this fascinating relationship in other ways.
I’m especially looking forward to creating and publishing an all new deep dive course about creative productivity in the first quarter of 2021 (most likely in the range of February / March); of course you’re invited to join me for that. Would you like to learn how to create and publish a huge volume of quality material without breaking a sweat, without worrying about criticism, and without getting writer’s block? I think there’s a lot that I can teach about this that would make for a unique and different approach.
Note that it’s also pretty easy to enjoy financial abundance if you can do the equivalent of writing and publishing several new books each year. Being able to consistently tune into the flow of creative expression is a gift that keeps on giving.
My Relationship with Other Publishing Platforms
With such frequent publishing, I was able to notice more subtleties and nuances in how I felt about various decisions along the way, like which topics I wrote about, when I did my writing, and where I published material. I feel that this helped me clarify which decisions felt most aligned and which felt semi-misaligned.
For example, it became even more obvious that the morning hours are my best time for creative work. I did most of my creative output well before noon each day, and that still feels good to me.
What probably surprised me most was getting more clarity about how I felt about different publishing platforms.
I love publishing to my blog/website and within CGC best. Those outlets always felt beautifully aligned.
While sharing in other places seems like a logically good idea – for business reasons, for reaching more people, and for creating more ripples – this year I’ve felt increasingly misaligned with that choice.
I thought I might do more YouTube videos this year, but I only created about a dozen more of them, including recording 8 videos in one day. I’m super comfortable on video, and I’ve been doing live video recordings in CGC most weeks since 2017. I have to face the truth that I just don’t like YouTube that much though. The vibe of it feels a bit off to me. I like watching other people’s videos there, but I don’t seem to mesh with using YouTube as a major publishing platform. Occasionally posting something to YouTube is okay now and then, but I don’t feel drawn to invest in that platform in a bigger way as a contributor. I just feel really blah about using it.
For a while now I’ve been toying with the idea of publishing future public videos to Vimeo only (I have a paid Vimeo account) and to my blog and not bothering with YouTube at all. Sharing on YouTube would mean more views of course, but I’m more into alignment than viewer counts. I think I might actually enjoy making more videos if I cut YouTube out of the picture. I enjoy doing the educational segments and coaching calls in CGC, and those are never published to YouTube. As soon as I weave into my thinking that I’ll be publishing a video to YouTube, my motivation to make the video actually goes down.
This doesn’t seem to have anything to do with any reactions or interactions on YouTube. By and large those are normally pleasant and positive, although I don’t engage in the comments much. People do seem to like and appreciate the videos I post there. Some have been asking for more videos too. I can’t point to anything external as being a source of problems. Logically it looks okay to me. On the inside though, my intuition keeps signaling that continuing to invest in that platform isn’t part of any meaningful path with a heart going forward. Somehow YouTube feels like yesterday’s index card.
I’d say that’s the main reason I didn’t publish much to YouTube this year. The vast majority of video that I recorded this year was published elsewhere and won’t be appearing on YouTube. I also feel that the material I share on video that isn’t published on YouTube is way better than what I have published on YouTube. It’s like there’s something about that platform that creates enough friction to make me want to keep my best video material away from it.
I share these feelings because I’m being honest, not because I fully understand them. If you’ve felt similarly towards YouTube or other publishing platforms and you have any insights or thoughts about this, I’d love to hear about it.
I also mostly shunned Instagram this year. That platform really doesn’t resonate with me. Mostly I just find it annoying and crippled, like trying to blog with only one finger. The people I’ve connected with there are mostly great. I just don’t like the platform itself. I’m not a photographer and have no desire to become one. I’m also not a heavy phone user, and I don’t want to become one either. On a scale of 1 to 10, I don’t see Instagram going higher than a 2 for me. I gave it a shot a while back. I just think it sucks. If you like it, that’s fine for you. It’s not for me though.
I shared most blog posts this year on Facebook, but I’ve mainly been on that platform to participate in a paid coaching program whose community is in a private Facebook group. That program ended a couple of weeks ago. So I’m pondering if I want to bother using Facebook going forward. It also feels pretty blah as a platform choice these days.
I think part of these issues stem from CGC. The interactions I experience in CGC have spoiled me because they’re richer and more meaningful than what I experience elsewhere. While it’s sometimes nice to connect with people on other platforms, especially old friends, those interactions are usually pretty shallow compared with what I’m accustomed to in CGC. So while I feel semi-repulsed by some external publishing platforms, I feel a more magnetic pull to engage with other CGCers. I think this feeling has amplified within the past few months.
This year has encouraged me to question other ways to frame how I think about my online business. More than 25 years ago, I adopted a try-before-you-buy business to sell computer games. I would share the free demos far and wide, and this would attract some percentage of the freebie downloaders to become customers. Some people think of this as a funnel-based model.
I can also view my current business model through this lens. I can say that my free material attracts lots of people to my website or social media accounts, and some of them become customers. My reach and conversion rate have been strong enough for many years to make this a viable business model.
But what’s the pathway to grow with this approach? You have to cast a wider net, or you have to improve the conversion rate, right? And that framing really doesn’t excite me. People aren’t fish, and I don’t see myself as reeling them in or seducing them. I’m really not interesting in sucking people into a funnel and optimizing the funnel. Blah!
If you’ve been reading my blog this year, you’ll notice that the vast majority of my posts aren’t salesy and have no links to anything paid. They really are just meant to help people, and that’s the intention I hold when I write them. I’ll link to courses and such when it seems relevant, but I don’t want to go out of my way to do that when it doesn’t fit the flow of inspiration.
So I recognize that my natural actions and behaviors aren’t really aligned with a funnel-based frame anyway. Even if I presume that such a model has been working for me all these years, I normally don’t hold this model in mind when doing creative work or serving CGC members. So it seems rather out of sync with my actual experience. It doesn’t mesh with how I normally think about my business and the creative work I do.
I actually like writing articles just to share and explore ideas and to connect with people. I don’t need anymore motivation than that. And obviously this kind of motivation works well for me. It would screw up my creative flow if I tried writing with a funnel-based framing in mind.
I am curious what would happen if I just stopped bothering to participate in other publishing platforms and focused entirely on my blog, customers, and CGC. I like to serve the people who show up, and I prefer not to worry about where they come from. When I branch out from this core, I tend to do a half-assed job of it anyway since the motivation and inspiration just aren’t there.
I also like that within a certain sphere around my work, I’m able to maintain a certain purity of intent. On other platforms I feel like I’m enmeshed in some corruption of that intent, which doesn’t feel good to me.
I like to create abundance through depth. Instead of having to do tons of outside research to capture and analyze ideas, I generate most of my creative output from within. I explore and experiment a lot. I dialogue with reality. I tune into the flow of inspiration. And it seems like I can do this indefinitely without burning out.
What does burn me out is when I try to do anything that feels misaligned for too long. My life seems to get better in direct proportion to my willingness to shun and reject misaligned approaches, even when I think I have good logical reasons for clinging to them.
So this year of daily blogging has given me a lot to think about. I’m glad I committed myself to this and followed through.
Overall I enjoyed the experience. I’m definitely not burned out by it. I still feel creatively inspired.
I don’t need to have another year of the same though. It will be very nice to channel my creative flow differently in 2021.
Happy New Year! 🙂