The 90-day writing challenge

In order to grow, they say that you need to get out of your comfort zone. Let’s forget, for now, who “they” are. Let’s concentrate on the “comfort zone.”

What does that mean, exactly? What is that zone? And how do you know when you’re outside of it?

How far out do you need to go before you crash and burn? How do you know whether you’ve taken on too much?

Well, the only answer to those is to test. This blog is going to be all about that test.

Day 1: Accepting a 90-day writing challenge

I read an article on Medium from author Elias Scully who explained his journey after a self-imposed 90-day challenge. His reasons for taking the 90-day challenge were:

  • Based on the idea that you need 30 days to instill a habit. Scully contends that it takes 90 days to see the results;
  • Stephen King, in his book, On Writing, said that the draft of a novel should take no more than 90 days;
  • It’s hard.
  • It’s good marketing.

He didn’t mention it, exactly, but when I read his piece, I felt like he was challenging me—challenging me to write and publish my writing.

You see, to me, writing a thousand words is very easy. I can do that in about 15 minutes. However, writing 1000 publishable and interesting words? That’s a brand-new ballgame.

One I’m ready to play.

What are the challenge rules?

You can’t play a game without basic rules in place. Ideally, all the rules are laid down at the start, but there may be changes along the way. To avoid this, I’ll make simple rules.

Photo by Christopher Paul High on Unsplash

Normally, I write a minimum of 1000 words a day, but I publish far less. The reason I don’t publish as often is that a lot of the writing I do is meant as a journal. I don’t post my journal.

So my 90-day challenge is to write a minimum of 1000 words per day, beyond my journal entries, on a specific topic. Furthermore, I will write with SEO in mind.

I will need to have a target keyword. I will need to research it when necessary, build proper headlines, and so on.

Also, no batch writing. Batch writing is when you write multiple articles on the same day and schedule them to be published at a later date. While I will need this down the line, it’s not the intent of this challenge, so disallowed.

I use Medium as my main publishing platform at the moment. The question will be how to manage both Medium and my website’s blog platform to make it sensible. It’s something that I need to think about, and I haven’t made a decision yet. I just need to find the proper balance between the two.

Why would I do something like this?

That’s a good question.

The first reason is that it seems fun. To me, writing is an activity that brings joy, so any opportunity I have to write with a specific purpose, I take. I also think that sometimes you have to write without a dollar amount assigned to it; otherwise, it becomes drudgery.

I will add that as a topic to cover in one of my posts.

The second reason is that it’s challenging. As I said earlier, writing a thousand publishable words per day is not an easy task. It may be easy for extremely prolific writers, but it’s not the case for me.

To publish what I write, I have to maintain a particular structure and research topics when required. I need to add pictures and proper headings to make it enjoyable for the reader.

When I write just for myself, with no intention of publishing, I don’t really care about sentence structure. I will write partial sentences, I will make mistakes and not correct them, and especially, I do not edit what I write. I can’t do that in public. They would run me out of town!

Now, with the goal of publishing and my writing and making visible and readable by everyone, the stakes are higher.

Let’s not forget that I am a writer—a professional one at that. The results of this challenge can be considered as part of my portfolio. When I send someone to my blog or my website, that’s what they will see.

Publishing 1000 words per day will also force me to establish a certain routine, and put some automation in place. Since I will be doing the proofreading and editing and of everything I write, I can’t spend three or four hours per day on a blog post.

In fact, the ultimate goal will be to make sure that I can write and publish a thousand-word piece in about one hour.

Is this feasible? Well, I can write between 90 to 100 words per minute, so reaching a thousand words may take 10, but I will say 15 minutes.

Let’s take about 10 minutes to find appropriate pictures for the post. Another 20 minutes to do proofreading and editing, and that’s about 45 minutes. I will leave another 15 minutes, in case I need to research, or something unexpected happens. The goal is to reach this milestone of producing a daily 1000-word+ blog per day, within 60 minutes.

Good for you, you say, but what’s in it for me?

One of the best ways to achieve a goal is to make it visible. Once you start sharing your goals with others, they keep you accountable, and that’s part of my reason for doing this.

Once I click the publish button on this first blog post, I will have set a ball in motion that will be difficult to stop without causing some collateral damage.

By the end of these 90 days, I expect to have developed a fluid process for writing; I expect to have increased my daily output; I expect to have learned a lot more on various topics, and I expect to have learned a lot more about myself along the way.

By completing the 90-day writing challenge, I will be a better writer.

By following my journey, I hope it makes you a better writer too. If writing is not your thing, hopefully it will inspire you to take a 90-day challenge in another area where you want to get out of your comfort zone.

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