How I went from 0 to 36,359 words written in a month

How I went from 0 to 36,359 words written in a month

I’m writing about why I decided to be a regular writer and publisher of the things that I’m doing. I am building a daily writing habit and I believe that everyone would benefit if you do the same.

I’ll explain why I write, what I expect to get from this and what I hope to give to the community as a whole. I believe there’s a way to write about our experiences selflessly, and I aim to do that. My goal is to share the lessons I learn as a product marketer so you and I  can do our jobs better. I hope to hear from good people who tell me when I’m doing something stupid, when I need to correct course or change that way I think.

Why write daily?

Consistency is important to me because it sets an expectation from me and everyone who might read my writing. For example, when a podcast is published each week, the producer and the listener both form a habit around it.

Producers know they have to show up every week, so they find topics, book guests, record discussions and publish a show. Producers know they have to show up again and again because if they don’t the podcast doesn’t go out.

The listeners also build a habit: listening to the podcast on a certain day, maybe while doing the same thing. Producer and listener develop a habit of engaging with one another and this habit comes from consistency. As James Clear says in Atomic Habits:

Ultimately, it is your commitment to the process that will determine your progress.

If you keep showing up, I bet you’ll find an audience who will show up with you. That's good progress.

Frequency helps build the habit

Have you ever been a part of a club or group that meets every other week or on the third Thursday of the month? Timing like that is hard for me. It's consistent but infrequent and it’s hard for me to get into the rhythm.

Infrequent meetings sneak up on me in that “Oh, is it Thursday already?” kind of way and I’m not as ready as I should be. That’s how I start losing interest in something. The less frequent it is, the less likely I am to show up for it.

What I get out of writing daily

I started this daily writing habit to help keep my name and my businesses top of mind with as many people as possible. Selfish, yes, but it quickly became more than that.

My aim is to share lessons I learn. By sharing them I hope to help others and deepen my understanding along the way. "Aha!" moments usually happen for me when I chat with people and so this blog isn't about me so much as it is about starting conversations to make more "Aha!" moments happen for more people.

Writing daily also helps me think and form stronger opinions on important things. This has been a valuable and surprising side effect.

Is it good for business?

A business needs to stay top of mind with its customers. Writing is one way of doing that and it’s taken me years to realize that building the writing habit is more important than trying to publish a big catalog of content overnight.

It’s easy to think "I wish I had that" when looking at people and businesses who have published heaps of content. Thinking like that led me to focus on building a catalog as quickly as possible and that led to burnout over and over again. Instead, why not take the same approach as people like Ryan Holiday and Nat Eliason? Slowly add to the catalog. Day by day, write more and add more. With each journal entry or published blog post, gain a deeper understanding of things and try to add some value into the world.

What is "top of mind"?

First, here's what it doesn’t mean to me:

- My ideal customer/reader/client wakes up and goes to sleep thinking about me
- My business/blog/podcast/video is the first thing someone thinks about when they have any problem
- Everything that happens in a day reminds someone of me

Top of mind is not about living in someone's head. It's about being thought of and showing up at the right times.

Byron Sharp, author of How Brands Grow, outlines how buying decisions are made. A typical buying process starts with a need, a problem or a desire. Not with a business, product or brand. Next, we think of the category and only then do we think of a product or brand.

For example, most new Zapier customers aren't looking for a tool that uses APIs to connect Saas products. My guess is most Zapier customers search something like “how to connect ghost with intercom.” That’s when Zapier shows up.

You want to be #1

Publishing articles, videos, audio, and social consistently helps you be the brand that comes to mind first once a category of need has been established. Keeping with the Zapier example, I recently wanted to store data from Beamer in Google Sheets. There wasn’t a native way to do this, so I searched “how to connect beamer with google sheets” and Zapier is result number 1. Zapier is now top of mind every time I think about connecting two or more pieces of software.

How I started writing every day

I bought Sean McCabe’s 30 Days to Better Writing course (no affiliate links here) and followed it for 30 days straight. It’s a simple concept and Sean lays out a nice challenge each day.

It’s a good course and I’ve already recommended it to several friends. But it’s not the course material that makes it so good. It’s the habit-building nudge that it gave me.

Here's why that's so important.

How I got my daily writing habit wrong

Sean’s course was not my first attempt at starting a writing habit.

I started a daily writing habit several times, but it never stuck. I'd make up my mind to write daily. I'd set a recurring meeting on my calendar and I would write furiously for a week. Then something better would come along and I'd get distracted and let it knock me off course. It was usually something happening the night before. I’d stay up late and then blow Zzz's through my alarm in the morning.

I also tried writing only on Mondays. This schedule worked for a few weeks, but Mondays would come and I didn’t know what to write. I spent more time thinking about what to write than writing and that's a shitty feeling. The Mondays-only habit didn’t last long.

Then I got obsessed with the tools I should use. Which apps are the best for distraction-free writing? Which apps sync across devices? How much should I spend on an app to feel guilty enough to write every day? Of course you know that’s all nonsense and BS excuses.

Of course, the tools don’t matter. Pen and paper work fine. A laptop, Google Docs and a clean workspace do the job, too.

In the end, Sean’s course is what I needed to get past all the bullshit and start this daily practice.

The simplest way to write every day?

Got to bed early. For me, this is it. If I go to bed and sleep well I can get up before my kids when the house is still quiet. I make a cup of coffee and I sit at my desk and write. The kookaburras laugh outside my window as the sun starts to peak above the trees, and I write.

You don't need a course like Sean's to start a daily writing habit. You don't need much. But if you're looking for a plan to follow to write more, I recommend it. Bottom line, decide you're going to write every day for the next 30 days, go to bed early, and see what happens.

Want help getting started? Click here to message me on LinkedIn about why you want to write more.

Peter Preston

Peter Preston

I'm a Saas marketing manager at ThinkTilt, makers of ProForma for Jira. I'm also the founder of Dear Video, a recovering podcast host, and learning how to grown a brand on YouTube.
Brisbane, QLD