Take the ‘Cut it in Half’ Challenge and Improve Your Writing

…and your verbal communication, and time management, and thinking.

Good writing styles may be as unique as people but when it comes to bad writing there’s one nearly universal mistake.

Too many words.

Everyone begins their writing endeavors (whether emails or books) using too many words, too long sentences, and too bulky paragraphs.  It’s hard to economize on words.  The better your language skills and vocabulary, the harder it is.  You want to flex those wordiness muscles!

But good writing is clear and to the point.  Removing needless words makes what’s left more, not less important.  Words are too precious to be drowned in a sea of superfluity.

Here’s a challenge to quickly and dramatically improve your writing:

Cut everything you write in half.

I suggest doing this for at least two weeks.  It will hurt.  It will take a lot of time at first.  But compare results after the experiment.  You will be better.

Every Facebook post, email, essay, blog post, or memo (heck, you can try it with texts and tweets too, but that might be tough) should be halved.  After you write what you want to say, just before you click “send”,  “publish”, “post”, or “save”, go back and cut it in half.  Count words, divide by two and edit down.

I’ve done this and found almost no paragraph I write gets worse as a result.

Give it a shot and see for yourself.

Being Me or Being Lazy?

So many days I don’t have it in me to write a really thorough post.

It’s not that I don’t have ideas. I’ve got drafts that could be really fleshed out almost always on hand.  It’s that doing more than a few paragraphs that quickly describe the core idea in those drafts is really hard work sometimes. 

I tell myself I’m just being true to my style.  I write about broad principles and simple observations in a single quick take.  I’m not Mr. Investigative Reporter or lengthy describer. I write every day so I can’t labor over every idea with thousands of words. 

Part of that is absolutely true. I’m just not sure how much.

The days I really push to add more meat to the bones of an idea are harder, but more rewarding. The content is better and I feel pretty damn good about it.

Still, I’m not a writer first and foremost. I write as therapy and a tool to enhance productivity, creativity, and happiness.  So why do I need to always go big?

I’m normally at peace with this tension, but sometimes I wonder. How often am I just being lazy when I think I’m being me?

What I Learned from Writing Every Day

A few years ago I started blogging every day.  Then I stopped to focus my energy on launching Praxis (so I told myself).  My productivity and happiness began to lag so I started daily blogging again.  Then I stopped again because I wanted to take the time to write more long-form pieces (so I told myself).  My productivity and happiness began to lag again so I started again.

The first stint was six months of unbroken daily blogging.  The second stint, after a six-month hiatus, was a year of unbroken daily blogging.  I just started up again after less than a month off because I couldn’t stand it any longer.

A few of the more valuable things I’ve learned from the practice of daily blogging…


Seems like it would be impossible to have something to write every day.  In fact, it almost feels arrogant to try.  The voices inside began to mock, “Oh sure, everyone really wants to hear what you have to say every single day!”  If I get stuck asking what everyone (or anyone) else wants I’ll never produce anything.  Not happiness either.

I shut out the voices by reminding myself that I write because it changes me.  I don’t write as a mission to the world or a gift to humanity or a calling card for business or to impress my wife (lord knows that doesn’t work) or to prove my point to anyone.  I write for me.  I write because doing so every day makes me more of the person I want to be.


Writing for me might overcome the internal objection to posting my ideas daily, but it doesn’t solve the need for content.  Every day blogging means I’ve got to have something you want to say every day.  It’s not as hard as you might imagine.

I think everyone has plenty to say.  Most of us just don’t know what’s in our own heads until we’re forced to get it out.  How many thoughts go through your head every day?  Brain researchers claim upwards of 50,000, plus all the things you dream.  You make observations, form theories, develop insights, and share many of them in conversation.  You just don’t know it.

Writing every day has taught me more about myself and what ideas are bouncing around in the attic of my skull than any practice I can imagine by forcing me to give them voice.

Killing the Critic

Something weird happened when I started writing every day.  My capacity for lazy criticism damn-near dried up.  When I read articles or watched movies I rarely found myself tossing out unbacked claims like, “That was lame”, or, “What a weak argument”.

The casual signaling of disapproval that passes for commentary is a brain-rotting, happiness-and-creativity-killing habit.  I was good at it.  Daily writing put wrench in my call-outs.

This happened for two reasons.  First, I need content!  Watching a movie I don’t like and sharing my reaction in a simple Facebook post declaring, “Meh” is like washing your hands with the last liter of water in the canteen while crossing the desert.  I need fuel to feed the daily writing and my brain just processed an entire two-hour spectacle full of ideas and implications.  Surely there is something in there that can be turned into a post!

The second reason the critic in me got neutered was simply perspective, or if you wish, empathy.  I know what it means to create something and ship it out to the world, how many or few they may be.  It’s hard.  It’s brutal some days.  And everything I create is not my best stuff.  But the pride I feel when I churn out a post on a bad day, even if I know it’s a weak post, is amazing.  When I see other people create I can’t help but internally cast a knowing nod their way.  Who cares about the flaws?  They’re doing something.  Plus, if they’re like me, they’re probably already…

On to the Next One

I don’t have comments enabled on this blog.  I never read the comments on Medium or other outlets where my stuff is published.  I rarely read or engage Facebook comments on my articles.

Before you think I’m a total condescending jerk let me just say it’s not you, it’s me.

I have nothing against comments or commenters.  I love that people want to engage some of the ideas I produce.  But I’m a pretty weak-willed person in many ways.  It’s hard enough to blog every day as it is, without the backward-looking draw of yesterday’s work.  If I get caught up reading comments I will not be able to do it dispassionately.  It’s my writing, so it’s close to me.  I’ll become vested in the outcome of the conversation, which is like being vested in Sisyphus getting that boulder to stay up there.

It also runs the risk of getting me hooked on the quick dopamine hit of a “like” or positive comment, which is the beginning of the end if I want to maintain my goal of writing for me.

I’ve learned to immediately distance myself mentally from my writing the minute I click “publish”.  Blog for the day is done.  Great.  Let’s move on.  What’s on the agenda?

This practice has been so necessary for my mental health it’s hard to overemphasize it.

Not only that, when you don’t treat your writing as so precious it deserves a week of fawning after completion it frees you up to produce lots of other things and allows you to improve as a creator much faster.  If I’m totally wrapped up in the fate of yesterday’s piece it will be harder for me to see its flaws and improve.  Or, worse yet, I might become overwhelmed and embarrassed by its flaws and never want to write again.

Instead, I tell myself to shut up and ship it.  Don’t look back, look ahead.

OK I’m done.  See you tomorrow.

2015: A Personal Year in Review

Four great reads!


Alright, my good friend and Praxis colleague TK Coleman convinced me to share this personal recap in a blog post after I shared it with him in an email.  It feels a little weird or narcissistic, but I guess a little reflection is permitted this time of year.  Besides, I had nothing to write today and I’m not going to miss my daily post!

Praxis is the main driver of my activities and goals, and our continued growth, amazing network of business partners, totally awesome alumni and participants, and expanded offerings (about to be announced!) make me proud of what we’ve done in 2015 and excited about 2016.  Beyond the business, I also have a few personal goals, all still very much related to my mission of freedom and progress.

What was my 2015 like?  Mostly laying groundwork and exploring new ways to create.  Here’s some of the stuff I accomplished that I’m most proud of:

  • Blogged every day.
  • Launched a podcast and released 64 episodes with 40 different guests.
  • Started writing on Medium and gained over 250,000 article views and more than 5,900 followers.
  • Did more than 30 (can’t remember exact number) of interviews on podcasts, news outlets, etc.
  • Gave more than 20 presentations in 15 cities.
  • Published two more books, bringing the total to four.
  • Recorded a song for the first time ever!
  • Read about 30 books.
  • Travelled with the family to Florida and Pittsburgh, and spent a week in Jamaica with my wife.
  • Published in more than 20 different outlets.
  • Launched a monthly newsletter.
  • Gained more than 2,000 new social media followers.
  • Ran a successful KickStarter campaign raising $5,379 for a $4,850 goal.
  • Booked a six-week trip to Ecuador for the family.
  • Ruthlessly removed even more stuff from my life leaving me less stressed and less crunched for time than I’ve ever been.
  • Had a total reach of 491,652 though the podcast, blog, and articles I have data for. (This one gets me.  My goal for the year was 500,000.)*

I certainly had some shortcomings in 2015.  I missed my goal to do one form of exercise a day probably 5% of the time (which is embarrassing when you realize I consider even a few pushups sufficient.)  Though I hit my daily blogging goal, too many days I churned out something less than what I think I could have in terms of quality.  I didn’t read as many books as I wanted to, and almost no fiction, which I planned to read a lot of.

Most of all, I feel like my efforts at being a good, peaceful, calm unschooling dad fell short in everything but theory.  I now know clearly what kind of parent I want to be and why (both huge improvements over the last few years trying to figure it out), but I still struggle every single day to translate that head knowledge into daily habits and behaviors.  Hopefully my kids are as resilient as I suspect they are.

Again in 2016 Praxis is the focus.  Outside of my family, it’s what I live and breathe and I’ll be focusing even more tightly on our goals for the business and everything we stand for.  I do have a few personal goals I’m thinking about for the year ahead as well.  Possibly another book, growing the podcast, perhaps changing up my writing routine to do longer pieces weekly instead of shorter posts daily (still trying to decide on this one), etc.

Regardless, thanks to every single one of you who has read, clicked, liked, shared, listened, commented, loved, critiqued, and even openly hated what I’ve been creating.  I’ve always said I do this for me, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say it feels great to connect with people over the ideas I love!

(In case you’re wondering, by far the most popular piece in 2015 was this article on why playing LEGO is better than learning algebra.  The most popular podcast episode was this interview with my son on being unschooled.)

*UPDATE: 12/31/15 – For unknown reasons, a few old posts of mine got picked up again and generated a ton of views right after I wrote this.  Just after noon on December 31, I broke the 500,000 mark.  Here’s to a goal being met!

New Blogs to Check Out

Praxis participants and alumni are pretty prolific and I love reading their stuff.  Check out some of their posts and other projects.

Some Current Participant Blogs

Mitchell Earl

Startups and Caffeine

Nick B. Tucker

The Nonconformist Playground

J. Taylor Foreman

Brad Matthews

Ryan A. Ferguson

James Bumanlag


Some Praxis Graduate Blogs

Derek Magill

Nicole Rene Lough

Laurie E. Barber

James Walpole

Kristina F. Miller

The Situation Network


*Interesting observation: The ladies are far more likely to give their blog a name other than their own.  Maybe men are more narcissistic?…

The Worst Posts Are the Most Rewarding

I’m totally distracted today. I’m busy with a lot of Praxis activities and participants and alumni in town. I don’t have my laptop. I got a late start. I’m hungry. I have a headache. I don’t have time to really write something good. I don’t have much to say.

That’s why I’m excited. 

I have a commitment to myself to blog every day. So I’m doing it. The content isn’t great. But I know from experience that forcing myself to show up and deliver on days like this is what makes me a better creator. It’s when you ship something crappy instead of nothing that you let creativity know who’s boss. 

It’s days like this and posts like this that make the good ones possible. 

What I Do When I Don’t Know What to Write

I just returned from a work+family road trip full of mini mishaps and adventures.  I’m behind on tasks, my inbox isn’t empty (which is like hell for me), I’ve come down with a cold, and I’m kind of grumpy.

But I have to write.  I have five writing projects now on my plate, plus my daily blog post.  I’m out of ideas.  And I love it.

I love it because I have learned what it means.  I know what it will do for me.  It will sharpen my mind, speed up my work, enhance my productivity, and overall make me feel like a badass who can do anything.  That’s what writing does for me and why I do it every day.  I know I can overcome this because I’ve done it before.

A little trick that helps me and came to my rescue today is the interview.  Ask other people to ask you questions and write in response to those.  It works wonders.

In fact, I was just asked to write a piece for a publication this morning (project #5) and I thought, “This is the worst time to be asked.  I’ve already got four other things to write and I’m not feeling it.”  I half punted.  I said if they really need me to give me some ideas.  I got an email response with three article ideas.  It worked.  Each one immediately filled my imagination to the point where the new challenge was writing just one article.

That also led indirectly to getting today’s blog post done.  Why not blog about this very process which has worked so many times to help me overcome creative blockage?

We all have tons of ideas floating around our brains.  The thing is, we’re not always the best equipped to extract them.  Sometimes we need someone else to tell us where to look.

If you get good enough you might eventually be able to pose good questions to yourself and not even need to reach out to a friend.

Why I Don’t Read the Comments

Because it makes me less happy.

That’s it. There’s no other deep principle or reason. This is also why I occasionally do read them. It (rarely) can be enjoyable. 

I don’t dislike commenters or discussion. For some reason it detracts from my enjoyment of life to read comments. Maybe that’s a shortcoming of mine. Who knows. All I know is that my life is better and I get more done and am happier when I completely ignore them.

It’s freeing to remind myself that I don’t owe responses to critics or commenters. Realizing I can ignore them actually makes me a little more likely to occasionally engage them.  But it’s still a rare occasion. 

Life’s too short to do things you don’t like doing.

Be Patient, Keep Producing

I was listening to entrepreneur and social media maven Gary Vaynerchuk say that the most important thing for building an audience is patience when it occurred to me…

I’ve been writing pretty consistently for about eight years, and really consistently for three. I didn’t set out to build an audience and I write because I’m happy when I do, but I still get kicks out of seeing stuff I write get traction.

In July I had one post get 50k views and another get 70k. For the previous near-decade I don’t think I ever hit five figures with any post. This month’s views eclipse the view total for the first three years I wrote combined.

The point is this: if you show up every day and keep producing, there is no guarantee you’ll get quick traction. Keep doing it anyway. Do it for you. Then, possibly when least expected and for pieces you didn’t even imagine were great, something might click.

Writing and I Might Need to Get Counseling

I’ve developed a complicated relationship with writing.

I’ve been blogging every day since February, and prior to that had been blogging anywhere from 2-7 times per week over the past three years.  The surprising thing about writing regularly as a discipline is how much my relationship to the practice has changed.  It’s like a marriage, with honeymoons, dips, plateaus, and every other vicissitude imaginable.

So where do things stand now?

I like writing.  In fact, I love writing.  I need it.  It’s still hard, but I have this unshakable faith that I never had before.  I know when I sit down and start typing, something will come.  I never fear for lack of content.  The knowledge that as long as I sit down, face the page, and hit that first keystroke I will get something written is wonderful.  So as an inward-focused self-development project, writing and I have a good thing going.  It’s when third parties get involved that things get complicated.

I’ve posted before and I still maintain that I write primarily for myself.  Still, I love it when my stuff gets a lot of traction, shares, and views.  I’m a slow learner, but I’ve recently hit on a few elements that dramatically increase the level of attention a piece can get.  That’s the source of the complication between writing and me.  Do I just sit down, hammer away at the keys, and wait for the Muses to reward my discipline with inspiration, or do I deliberately construct content to include elements that will gain wider reach?

I have no ethical worries about “selling out” and don’t look down on marketing or even those who’ve mastered the art of click-baiting.  I don’t think there’s anything more or less pure about writing to get read, as long as you’re honest with yourself about your intentions and don’t feel shame over it.  I love the constant give-and-take game that creators and consumers of content play, trying to understand and anticipate each other.  I think good marketing does not harm a product, but actually creates value.  I am impressed by those who really grasp that the game is less about creating content than it is about structuring it.

Still, writing for reach doesn’t come as naturally to me and I only occasionally enjoy it.  I hate posts that have images attached to them for no reason.  Why does a stock photo of people on an escalator make the ideas better?  Most people prefer images with everything, and I don’t look down on that.  I like titles that are a bit ambiguous, but most people want a big, clear “pop” up top.  I vaguely understand it and oscillate between stubbornly refusing to try and happily playing around with small tweaks that appeal to would-be readers.

When I first began blogging no one read any of my stuff.  That was the second hurdle to overcome.  Before I started writing I had to overcome the fear of being misunderstood or disliked for my sometimes radical views, but I quickly learned the more common and more difficult reality is that no one is offended because no one is reading.  I came to terms with a small audience and writing and I really focused on our relationship in private.  I do not pretend to have a massive audience today, but readership has steadily grown and with increasing frequency I write a piece that gets widely shared.  The thing that makes this hard on my relationship with writing is that the most popular pieces are rarely the ones I care most about or think are my best stuff.

I’m beginning to be able to penetrate the mystery a bit and see what makes some pieces more popular than others, but most of those characteristics aren’t elements of my writing that I find most fundamental or unique to me.  If I allowed myself to indulge in artistic self-pity it would feel like the world is telling me, “Just be less like yourself and you’re work will get more attention”.  It’s not nearly that simple, nor do I think that I could magically master massive reach by “selling out” or any such nonsense.  It ain’t easy to get traction even if you’re trying.  There is just a tiny tug-of-war going on between me and writing about how to proceed in our partnership.

Do I continue to use our encounters in co-creation as a form of therapy and self-reflection, or do we agree to turn toward the wider world and produce things that connect?  Not that I can flip a switch and do the latter easily.  But how much should I try?

For now I’m going to try to have my cake and eat it.  I’ll write for myself every day.  But I’ll also try once or twice a week to let audience-consciousness guide a few of my choices.  Call it an experiment.  I need to know if I’m avoiding writing with the audience in mind because it’s really not me, or if I’m avoiding it for the same reason I used to avoid writing altogether, because it’s hard and scary.

One of the Benefits of Writing: Better Reading

Let’s say you come across an interesting and perhaps controversial idea in an article.  If you share the quote on Facebook you’re likely to get a lot of comments about what it omits, or the other side of the idea, or the potential errors and pitfalls.  Even inspirational or thought-provoking little witticisms that do not pretend to convey the whole truth get scrutinized and poked at because of what they leave out.

There is nothing necessarily wrong with pointing out error or missing pieces or potential for misunderstanding, but it does severely limit your ability to take in new ideas.  Good ideas often begin as bad ones, but if you immediately look for what possible problems any idea could have, you’ll stunt the process.

If it’s easy for you to contradict or find flaw in every pithy quote, I submit that you might not be writing enough.  When you aren’t putting your own thoughts into the world often, it’s very easy to play critic and see problems with everyone else’s.  But once you start writing regularly you’ll discover just how hard it is to convey a thought while covering all of your bases.  You’ll find the very tough trade-off between making sure you’re not misunderstood and not going on and on forever or being so full of exceptions that you never communicate the rule.  Of course every sentence is not the whole truth of the matter.  Of course there are exceptions.  But if you want to write and think well, you can’t spend all your time listing them.

After writing a lot you’ll stop looking for perfection in the writing of others.  You’ll get better at the practice of charitable interpretation, where you assume the author is intelligent and has thought of your objection but chose to write what they did anyway.  See if you can discover why.  They must have assumed what they wrote was worth the risk of misunderstanding.  Why?  Writing opens your mind and creates a kind of empathy with other writers.  You know they face the same limitations you do, and you can more easily see the core value in their communication over and above any flaws or omissions.

The more you create, the harder it will be to simply sit on the sidelines and be a critic.

Why It’s So Hard to Create

Yesterday in a blog post I wrote “LCD” when I meant LSD.  A commenter on Facebook was kind enough to point out the error.  It was a little funny and a little embarrassing, and an illustration of one of the reasons it’s so hard to create stuff.

Typos and errors here and there are no big deal.  But if you’re regularly churning out copy, they start to accumulate.  Not only will people tell you when they dislike your content, they’ll (helpfully) point out mistakes.  Nobody emails you to say, “Hey, there were no typo’s in this paragraph”, or, “Great work getting the commas right.”  It’d be weird if they did.  Still, when you’re on the production side you can begin to feel like all you produce is error.  Why take the risk at all?  If you don’t create anything no one can tell you what’s wrong with your creation.  There is no opportunity to be embarrassed by factual or grammatical error.  There is no chance you’ll offend or be misunderstood, or what is sometimes worse, ignored.

The fact that it’s not perfect exudes a relentless pressure toward not completing or releasing your creations to the world.  Even if you think it’s pretty good, sometimes it has no effect.  Sometimes it gets no traction, doesn’t persuade or enlighten.  Sometimes it has an effect opposite intention.

I’ve responded to this pressure by not creating at times.  The world goes on and nobody seems put out.  Except me.  Humans are creative beings.  We’re not fulfilled if we’re only repeating and consuming.  Production and exchange of goods, services, and ideas are necessary for a full life.

I have to regularly remind myself why I create.  I do it for me.  With or without perfection, with or without an audience, the process and result are necessary for my own well-being.

Why I Hate Citations

There was a time when citations were almost nonexistent even in academic work.  Today the word academic is not applied to anything that’s not full of citations.  It drives me nuts.

In my teens I remember writing a paper where the teacher required a minimum of five citations.  It seemed arbitrary and irritating to me so as a small act of rebellion I made the first citation something like, “My own mind”.  A childish and arrogant move to be sure, but I stand by the protest at the heart of it.  We were asked to write a paper making an argument on a topic.  Yet we were graded in large part by how many citations we had, regardless of the weight and cogency.  If I made a compelling case based on the internal logic of my argument, I could not get an ‘A’ unless I also had five citations, no matter how disconnected and useless the citations.  The academic world isn’t as bad as that class, but sometimes it’s not far off.

I understand the point of citations.  You want to maintain intellectual honesty and respectfully acknowledge those upon whose ideas you’ve built your own.  Unless you are doing a survey of literature or a study on a specific text, all of this seems possible in simple sentence form within the body of your work rather than via formal citation.  When formalized, a subtle citation seduction can sweep in and impresses readers, clouding their judgement of the content itself.  The appeal to authority or the demonstration of how common an idea is often becomes an argument for it’s validity.  I’ve even heard academics mock papers simply because they lack a sufficient number of citations, without addressing any of the ideas.

You might argue that all of those problems are problems with the way readers and writers use citations, not the system itself.  There is some truth to that, but I also think the formalization of the system has much to do with it.  When you are trained to rigorously cite everything and stop mid-sentence for footnotes*, the power of the argument suffers, and the readability definitely declines.  It also carries traces of the false and dangerous notion that ideas are scarce like physical property, having but one owner.  Citing someone implies they were the originator of the idea, which is almost never the case.  A great comedy sketch would be a scene in which a thinker was forced to cite everything, including the sources for the citations, and the sources of the sources, etc.  Tying an argument to a single source can be just as misleading as not tying it to anyone.

Prior to the formalization of citations thinkers still got credit for their work.  It’s not difficult to mention in the body of a text inspirations or sources.  It’s not difficult to add a “Further Reading” list at the end.  Both of these better reflect the truth of the situation, that all thinkers through time and space are engaged in a kind of great conversation, responding to and building on one another.  We all know that none of us is spinning original ideas absent outside inspiration.  We are part of a lineage.  If you read C.S. Lewis, for example, you have no trouble seeing the influences and ideas of Milton.  Sometimes Lewis mentions him by name, often he does not.  There aren’t citations to speak of (one of the reasons Lewis is considered popular instead of academic), but there is no lack of respect or pretension to originating ideas that came from elsewhere.

Citations sometimes seem more, not less arrogant to me than their absence.  They imply that anything not cited was perfectly original.  They imply a neat and tidy set of ideas, disciplines, and intellectual evolution.  If we’re honest, we can’t even remember our own intellectual development enough to source and cite the origin of many of our ideas.

This is not about not giving credit.  It’s not about being lazy.  In fact, it’s about pushing oneself to give credit in the much more difficult way.  To work it into the writing in a way that’s not awkward or disruptive or overly formal.  It’s about forming excellent and clear arguments that bring something new to the table, but that any intelligent person can see emerge from a larger tradition or body of knowledge.  It’s about intriguing and leading people to that body of knowledge rather than just listing it by publication date and publisher next to a tiny number.

I try not to cite as a discipline.  Most of my writing is in blogs and articles so there isn’t much need to cite anyway, or much cost to me for not citing, but after my initial youthful distaste for the undue respect given to citations qua citations, I gave myself this rule to see what would happen.  Everything I write comes from some other set of ideas or thinkers I’ve encountered.  My goal is to give credit and respect generously, and it almost feels demeaning to stick a great work into a little footnote.  If I can’t work their ideas into my own and, when I’m doing it more directly, communicate that I’m doing it, I think I’m missing something.

This is not a wholesale protest against the practice of citation.  It has uses, and probably many that I’m ignorant of since I’m not an academic.  My claim is simply that it’s over-used and that writing – especially academic writing – and thinking often suffer for it.



*I also hate footnotes

Why I Blog Every Day

If someone told me there was something that cost $0 and only 20 minutes a day and it would help me…

  • Overcome fears
  • Build confidence
  • Improve thinking
  • Improve communication
  • Build social capital
  • Improve productivity
  • Enhance creativity
  • Bring new opportunities
  • Increase happiness
  • And more!

I’d probably think it was a cheesy infomercial or self-help book.  Yet it’s true.  Blogging every single day has done all of this for me.

It’s not some magical cure all.  It’s actually pretty straightforward and anyone who’s done anything every single day will have an idea why.  If you run every single day no matter how inconvenient, you’ll understand.  Or meditate, or read, or whatever else.  The act of committing to something every day with no breaks or wiggle room is scary in itself.  I heard of a guy who was challenged to run 10 yards every single day and he laughed and said that’s crazy because it’s too easy.  But he wouldn’t commit to run a mile a day because that was unrealistic.  10 yards wasn’t too easy.  It was scary because it was so doable.  There are no situations in which you can’t find a way to run 10 yards.  No excuses.  That kind of consistent finality is scary to face.

Once you commit it’s on.  Every day is a battle.  Ups and downs and everything in between must be overcome.  It’s a wild ride.  The thing I especially like about making blogging the daily commitment is that it’s public.  Once you announce you’ll do it every day you can’t hide.  Everyone can see whether you have.  I also like that blogging is a creative act, and the more you turn creativity into a discipline the more creative you’ll become.

It’s hard to overstate the ups and downs you’ll experience.  Recently I poured my heart into what I thought was a very inspired and very good blog post.  I spent an hour typing it into my phone on an airplane.  I leaned back in my chair tired, content, and excited.  I had a few ideas and a few turns of phrase I really liked.  Then the draft disappeared.  It was gone for good.  I couldn’t recapture that moment of inspiration or those turns of phrase.  And yet I still had to write a post that day.  It took everything I had to make myself get back on the horse and compose and entirely new post, knowing what I had previously written was gone.  The make-up post I wrote wasn’t that good, but I’ve never felt more accomplished than when I finished it.  I know, it sounds dramatic.  But in the moment it felt that way.

You learn a lot about yourself blogging every day.  You learn to pull a lot of ideas and insights to the fore that were floating in your subconscious.  You learn to see the world differently and get better at expressing what you find.  Most of all you learn to take yourself more lightly and not fear failure.  Your ideas are now public and open to scrutiny, which means they could be ridiculed.  Worse yet, they could be (and often are) ignored.  Both prospects are equally frightening.  Getting used to it and being unafraid to churn out posts changes your whole approach to the world.

I won’t go on (though I could) about the benefits of daily blogging.  Nor do I think everyone must do it to have a good life.  I only know how powerful it has been for me, and I think anything you commit to do daily will teach you to be in the drivers seat of your life.