Jan ’14 Monthly Experiment Check-in

on-the-wagon

By my math it’s exactly half-way through January — perfect time to check in on this month’s Experiment of writing every day.

Looking back, I’ve written about 10 days out of the 18 that have ticked away. Not great, but since this is a Monthly Experiment and not a “New Year’s Resolution” I don’t see any reason to feel bad. The learning that comes from thoughtful experimentation is as much the point as the experimental habit itself…

So what have I learned so far?

1) Writing is great medicine

I knew this already, actually; but this month has been a great reminder. It’s amazing to me how much difference it makes just to get my thoughts ¬†organized enough to jot down. Publishing them seems to lighten the load somehow, and walk straighter for the rest of the day.

This is the case whether writing about little personal victories or recent personal disasters. Or even just venting about craptastic customer service from a company like LegalZoom.

2) Ideas get log-jammed

Apparently there is a limit to the number of ideas I can keep in my head. (And it’s a frighteningly small number, too). When I started this experiment, I worried a bit about finding enough things to write about… but I find that every time I give an idea life by evicting it from my noodle, new ones pop in.

I’ve had more and better ideas coming to me, now that I’m writing and sharing the old ones. In fact I have a pretty cool concept for a novel now… maybe I’ll take an upcoming month and write up a treatment.

3) “Pay yourself first”

This phrase comes from the world of personal finance; but a similar effect applies here. Life is hectic; and no matter what you do the hours fall away fast. The days where I saved my writing for evening were very hit-or-miss; very often by the time the kids went to bed I was too mentally exhausted to even think about thinking.

By tackling the things that are important to you as early in the day as possible, you’ll set yourself up for greater success. That way, even if the rest of the day goes sideways on you, you’ve already made real progress on something that matters. In my case, I think I need to tweak my morning routine so that by noon I’m already ahead of the game. That’s a challenge given Maddie’s current needs, but it’s the key to getting back on the writing streak I want to create for the rest of the month.

4) Never 2 days off

Sometimes the world does not cooperate, and despite your best efforts a day will go by without being able to tick your Daily Experiment Done box.

It happens.

But I’ve realized that when that does happen, you absolutely positively must tick that box the next day. One day off is a stumble, easily recovered. Two days off is the beginning of anti-new-habit inertia… it gets exponentially harder to stay motivated on day 2, and especially day 3.

So if you miss a day of whatever daily habit you’re trying out, give yourself a bit of slack — but then kick your butt hard to get back on the horse the very next day.

Wrap-up…

It’s been great writing more. To get the most out of this month, I’ll move a couple of things around so I can end with a 10-day winning streak.

After that, I tentatively plan to cut back from daily to 3 blog posts per week — but to make that stick I know I’ll have to commit to a schedule. Not “when the mood strikes”, but specific days of the week that know I will write.

I would like to do more, actually, but I have so many things I want to do with my limited free time that I will probably have to strike a balance with writing.

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