Before last month, I had tried a couple of 30-day experiments and they hadn’t gone particularly well, within days of starting them, they had fizzled out and died a death. Recently however I’ve had a really positive experience of conducting a 30-day experiment and as you may have noticed, that experiment was to write a blog post everyday for 30 days. In this post I want to tell you how I got on with that challenge and also what it has taught me about daily practice.
How did I do?
Well I wrote 30 posts in July and in case you missed them here are links to all 30:
- The one thing you absolutely should do
- The biggest lesson I’ve learnt in Bali
- A selection of travel photos from South East Asia
- Embracing the power of now
- Pushing through the pain barrier (and why you shouldn’t)
- Ten quotes to get you thinking
- Beware of the boxes
- Don’t let fear be your guiding factor
- You have more time than you think
- What you won’t find in the travel guides
- Chiang Mai: First impressions and new beginnings
- Soundtrack to my summer
- Resistance is futile
- Change is a complicated affair
- Five of my favourite TED talks
- How connected are you?
- My favourite part of the day
- People should smile more
- A life of purpose (and an opportunity to help ease the suffering of animals in Thailand)
- Understanding takes time
- As I give I get
- Twenty of my favourite quotes
- There is always a lesson
- Travel is a teacher
- Looking after all of you (and details of my next 30-day challenge)
- Try saying yes more
- What writing can reveal
- My money story
- Be honest, be true, be you
- My gratitude for you
My first confession is that I wrote these 30 posts in 31 days rather than in 30 days, this means that I didn’t write everyday. There were days when it felt nearly impossible to write a post and so I would take a day off and write two the next day, usually getting up at 5.30am to write the first and writing the second in the evening of that same day. My second confession is that I did this three times, which meant that my final post was delivered on the 31st July rather than the 30th but I’m okay with that.
On one of the days, I had internet problems so I decided not only to publish the next day but also to write the post the next day and on the other two days that I didn’t write, it wasn’t a case of time being the issue, but rather my brain refusing to co-operate with the task at hand. I don’t doubt that I could have written something, but I’m pretty certain that it wouldn’t have been of a quality that I would have been happy to publish.
To give you an idea of what this challenge meant in numbers, especially for the geeks amongst us, here are some interesting stats:
- In total I wrote 18,992 words, according to Wikipedia this is the average length of a short novella and more words than the average teen novel. The stipulated word count for novels submitted to National Novel Writing Month is 50,000 words which means I will need to more than double my daily word count if I am going to make that target in the month of November.
- My longest post was 1662 words and my shortest was 270.
- My most popular post (in terms of views) was The one thing you absolutely must do and my least popular post was A life of purpose (and an opportunity to help ease the suffering of animals in Thailand)
- In total I got 67 comments in July compared with 27 in June.
- The number of visits to the site increased by 92.94% compared to June.
- There was an increase in unique visitors, up by 29.41%.
- The number of page views more than doubled, seeing an increase of 116.54%
Aside from the increase in traffic to my site, the biggest benefit of completing this challenge was the impact it had on my writing practice. Writing daily was a revelation to me. Having struggled previously to write one post a week, I found writing a daily post far easier than I had imagined. Like everything, the more you practice something, the easier it becomes and the more skilled at it you become.
One of the ideas behind conducting 30-day challenges is that they are a great way to create a new habit. Attempting something for 30 days sends your brain the signal that this isn’t forever which can make the task feel less daunting and more achievable and as Steve Pavlina said, when describing 30-day trials as a powerful personal growth tool, “We all know that getting started and sticking with the new habit for a few weeks is the hard part. Once you’ve overcome inertia, it’s much easier to keep going.”
Writing a daily blog post was never something that I intended to continue beyond one month but writing on a daily basis is. I haven’t written everyday since the end of July but I do write more often than I used to. One of the habits I would like to form as a result of this challenge is to free write 1000 words everyday.
What I learnt
- I have a loyal following. Only 3 people unsubscribed during the month of July. I expected it to be more.
- I love writing. It brings clarity and insight to my life.
- 30-day experiments, when combined with public accountability can work for me.
As you might recall, I’m currently doing a 30-day experiment to exercise everyday for 30 days in August and I have lots of ideas already for future 30-day challenges. September is likely to see me meditate everyday and other potential, future challenges include going shampoo free for 30 days, cutting out caffeine for 30 days and free writing 1000 words a day.
Are there any new habits that you would like to start but feel daunted by the idea of a life-long commitment? Perhaps a 30-day experiment could help. Or have you already embraced the power of making something a daily practice for 30 days? Either way I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you liked this post, please don’t forget to share by hitting one of the buttons below.