365 | I completed one year of daily writing. This is what I learned

Mitchel Lensink
Dec 31, 2021
3 min read

Well then, this year flew by, hasn’t it? I can’t believe it has been 365 days of daily writing already. I also can’t believe I made it! Exactly one year ago today, I decided on a whim that a 365 project to improve my writing skills would be a good idea. I could not foresee the implications, difficulties and benefits it would bring yet but I jumped into it with an open mind and healthy excitement. I dubbed the 365 project Monologue for its inherently individualistic nature and got to writing.

Now, a year later, many things have happened, as they do in a year, and I wrote about anything and everything in the most compelling ways I deemed possible while they happened. This absolutely does not mean all my stories from the past year are engaging, of high quality or even that well thought-out. It’s simply not possible to do such a thing on a daily basis. Especially when you are merely at the early learning stages of a new skill! I did gain some insights while structuring my internal processes into coherent Monologues though. Allow me to share with you my thoughts from today one final time.

Let’s be clear about one thing first, coming up with something sensible to say everyday is hard. In fact, I don’t think anybody has enough value to share that they can do it on a daily basis (at least I now know for sure I don’t). The best ideas need a little incubation time, a little time to marinade. So even when the premise of the project wasn’t to be interesting every day but rather to push myself to write something interesting on even the least interesting days, quality should always come before quantity.

Still, the daily goal has greatly strengthened my writing muscle and really jumpstarted the process of learning how to write better. In fact, when trying to learn any new skill, building a habit is the best thing you can do to get good at something, while at the same time making it more fun. Committing to doing something daily isn't always the most productive way to learn something but it does help a lot with building the habit. Eventually I believe that habit will carry you all the way to the mastering of a skill.

The key with committing to a daily activity is that you set a low enough goal for yourself to make things realistically achievable. Life can get crazy in many unexpected ways over the course of a year and it's very easy to skip one day. And let's be honest, how many times has that one failure lead to many more failures and eventually giving up in the future? Keeping your streak going is vital!

Yes, a result of daily production is that not everything you do is the work of a genius. You’ll have to let go of trying to be something you’re not (yet) and focus on doing the work first. Very rarely is your first work in a new field your best work. Put in the hours, try as many different things as you can, make mistakes while it still doesn’t matter and learn to enjoy the process. I’ll be the first to admit some of these Monologues could’ve been a Tweet. Heck, some of them even were. But it kept my streak going and that was the most important thing.

It’s still a little early to tell if I’ll be doing this for the rest of my life the way I know that to be true about photography. But despite that, do I now consider myself a writer? Yes! Do I think I’m a good one? Not yet! I’ll get there though. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to writing longer, more fleshed out stories in the future. My newsletter Dialogue will serve as the main vessel for that journey so please do sign up if you haven’t done so already!

Finally, with that being said, thank you. If you have been reading along these past 365 days, thank you. If you joined in later and only checked back periodically, thank you. If you are reading this on my project page somewhere in the future, thank you. I sincerely hope that I’ve inspired somebody, anybody, to do something similar one day. And if you decide to do that, I won’t need a thank you. Because the only person you’ll really want to thank is yourself.

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