Breaking news: I like to write. Okay, so that is not breaking news or, at least, it should not be. The problem is sometimes I am plagued by this little writer’s ailment known as “I can’t think of something to write about but I want to write SOMETHING” (scientific name, of course). To cure this ill, I sent a request for writing prompts onto the social media spheres to challenge myself to publish something every day for one week.
The articles from #PublishEveryDay went on my Medium page. I made a list of people I would seek for advice, came to terms with whether technology is ruining my career and found new lessons in an old children’s book.
The challenge of publishing every day was, well, challenging. Yet, the experience carried some important lessons. I put these lessons in a list because I am a millennial inclined to Buzzfeed. So, go ahead and scan the headlines.
Perfection leaves you unpublished
The drafts section of my Medium account is plump with unfinished articles. The documents folder on my computer is even worse. For every nearly completed article, I have 10 half-thought articles or ideas. Many of these will never get published because I am nervous about making public something that is not perfect. #PublishEveryDay forced me to overcome that fear.
For example, I published an article about why differences in skin color and religion too often define how people are treated. This topic is a tough one. I come from a privileged background as a white male, so I would usually hesitate to publish something on this topic.
However, because I had to post something, I had to take that risk, even if what I published was not perfect. Imperfection, I found out, is totally OK. People’s lives are not a polished, PR-press-release-style version. Life is messy. When we are honest about that, we can have honest discussions. The same goes for writing. If we spend all of our time waiting to be perfect, we will never get anything done.
Deadlines are not fun
The necessity of publishing something every day forced me to embrace imperfection, but it also delivered an ample serving of anxiety. “I have to write something,” I would tell myself as I forced my fingers onto the keyboard.
My mind was blank some days. Okay, my mind was and is blank most days. So, I channelled my favorite Louis L’Amour quote: “Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”
The other cure for deadlines is to work ahead. There is no sense in stopping your creative kick just because you finished one article. Write a second post! You cannot change deadlines, only how you approach them.
You get by with a little help from your friends
The #PublishEveryDay series was built around social media engagement. Online friends sent me writing prompts. When I completed a post, I would tag the person who inspired me. Doing this increased the readership and likelihood that someone other than my mother read my writing. That is called reach.
Encouragement from my peers kept me motivated, too. There is no better feeling as a writer than people taking the time to say how they enjoyed your work and sharing with you their favorite part. Interactions I had during the week, and in the days that followed, showed me that people tuned in. I am blessed with a great group of friends. A writer needs a reader just as much as a reader needs a writer.
Thank you to everyone who followed #PublishEveryDay. If you missed an article, you can read access them all on my Medium page or click on the individual links below.
Read the #PublishEveryDay posts:
A chance to see the world from the perspective of a 6-foot-2, aspiring human rights journalist. Will include lessons learned and reflections.