The Two Year Writing Challenge is Over

I can tell you one thing: I’m definitely not writing a blog post tomorrow.

Two years ago I agreed to be accountable to a friend for writing a blog post every single day for two years. If I failed to do it, I would have to pay $10,000. I could skip once per month and I could “buffer” one post by writing two on the first day.

I’m finally done. I never used a skip, but I used the buffer on two or three occasions. I was always terrified of using the skip because I thought that I might absolutely need it in the thirty days following its use. I’ll use my first one tomorrow, as it’s technically the last day of the challenge.

Overall the challenge was a very positive thing. The speed with which I can write a blog post has increased dramatically. A decent post can be written with few or no edits needed in about seven to ten minutes. My writing has certainly improved to some extent, although it’s very hard to gauge that. I guess the best empirical evidence is that I’ve gotten very positive feedback on posts that I thought were a six or seven out of ten.

I wrote two books during the challenge, and they were extremely easy to write because of it. In fact, I don’t distinctly remember writing them, as it felt as though it took no effort at all. Life Nomadic, on the other hand, felt like a Herculean effort.

I also documented every single day on the island as a blog post. I may actually polish those up and publish them some day. Whether I do or not, it’s pretty neat to have a narrative record of every single day we’ve spent on the island.

For the first six months or so, writing was the hard part. I had so many good ideas for blog posts, and I was finally getting them down on paper. I loved that phase. But somewhere in the past year I began to feel that I was producing more posts than ideas. Some of my unpublished posts are incredibly insubstantial.

Incentives became bad during that period. If I didn’t have a good idea, it would gnaw at me a bit all day, and I’d put off the post. Then I felt like I had the obligation looming over me. By the end of the day I would write a crappy post just to fulfill the bet. Once in a while one of those would come out better than expected, but a lot of time it was just writing for writing’s sake.

Some of the joy of writing was also sapped. I’d want to write a good long post, but since I got no more credit for it I’d often settle for an inferior treatment of the subject. And occasionally I’d be motivated to write after already writing for the day, but would postpone it until the following day.

In retrospect, I think it would have been better to do this for six or eight months and then reevaluate. Or maybe six months of writing posts, six months of writing blog post title ideas, and then back to writing posts. But I’m proud to have stuck to something so diligently for such a long period of time, and I think I might realize even more benefits from it once I’m off it and have some room to breathe and write when inspired.

I actually planned on not writing today, because I could use my skip and my buffer to take the last two days off. Call it thoroughness or Stockholm syndrome, but I couldn’t help myself. Just knowing I don’t have to do it makes it feel like much less of an obligation. But still, I’m taking tomorrow off.

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Photo is three great Oolong teas from Te Company in NYC. The “2028” Oolong was a unanimous favorite.

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