Today’s my birthday, and this year I’m giving myself a present.
I’m giving myself the time to write. I’m going to prioritize it, block out the time in my schedule and actually take writing seriously. But that’s pretty vague. I’ve tried to do that before, and I failed miserably. So this time I’m going one step farther.
I’m committing to publish a new article every day, for 30 days straight.
That means starting October 2nd, you’ll see a new post from me every single day. I’ll add the link to each article at the end of this post, so you can continue to check back here to see the latest.
And in case you were wondering, the only reason I’m not starting tomorrow and giving myself two more days is because today’s my motha fuckin birthday and I plan on getting shit faced all weekend.
Hey, that’s the truth. It’s been a stressful month and I deserve to let loose.
Why is writing so important to me?
A few times a year I like to pause and reflect on where I’m at and what I’ve done. My birthday is one of those times. So I pulled out my last list of goals and was fairly happy with the progress.
I absolutely crushed goals #2, #6 and #7.
- I quit my job a few months ago and I’m working on Hacking UI full time.
- I think The Side Project Accelerator counts for a pretty damn good online product, and for the first batch we sold 13 spots! We’re launching the second batch in a few weeks and the waiting list is already getting slammed.
- I spent my last half a year at SimilarWeb on the server team learning .net, and on my own time I built three complete web apps in Python (you’ll hear about one of them very soon).
Goal #3, the one about the gym, I didn’t do so well with. But I’m 26 now and it’s basically all down hill from here anyway, so who really cares, right? I also have some serious room for improvement on the keeping in touch goals.
However, there at the top, tormenting me and egging me on, is my number 1 goal: to write more.
I’ve always loved writing, and after starting to write on the Hacking UI blog, I quickly learned how effective writing can be both as a means of self expression and as a tool for building an audience.
I admire guys like Seth Godin, Jason Fried and DHH that publish frequently, and I always wanted to do the same.
Yet I didn’t do it. I flat out failed at this goal. I write a new article every month or two at best, and that just sucks.
Well I hate failing, which is why I’m making this commitment and going to fix this the best way I know how.
Commit first, carry out later
One of the methods that Sagi and I teach in The Side Project Accelerator is a way to push yourself further and achieve more than you thought you could. This is crucial for a side project, since you’re almost inevitably strapped for time and money, but I think that this is applicable to almost everything in your career and in life in general.
We call this method commit first, carry out later.
To commit first, and carry out later means that you announce to your friends, to your audience or to the world that you are going to do something, even before you know exactly how you will get it done.
This does not mean that you should make promises that you can’t possibly keep or say that you will do something that you can’t possibly do.
This just means that when you are confident in yourself and you know that you have the ability to achieve something, you not only hold yourself accountable for doing it, but also allow others to hold you accountable for carrying it out.
You use your declaration and commitment as additional motivation, and you don’t let yourself even imagine the possibility that you won’t succeed.
There are more crazies out there
Now the name that Sagi and I slapped on this method is original, but we’re certainly not the first ones to use it.
In the last few months I’ve done about 15 in-depth interviews for our podcast and for The Side Project Accelerator with some of the most successful entrepreneurs I know. Almost every one of them mentioned that they used some form of this method, and attributed it to their success. For example:
- Jason Bacher and Brian Buirge from Good Fucking Design Advice committed and sold their first products, before they even designed or produced anything.
- Tal Perry told us about how he used this method to build a high-frequency, algo-trading startup, in which he was the sole developer, before he even knew how to program.
- Jason Zook is a living legend when it comes to commit first, carry out later. The guy set up an auction and sold his last name! Twice! Now he’s selling his future, and that means he’s committing to create at least 6 more products that aren’t even ready yet! You should really listen to the podcast episode where he discusses this. I was just blow away by his confidence and ingenuity.
Actually Sagi and I are already practicing this method. We used it when we committed to hosting two major events in San Francisco last month. Before we planned any of the presentations, or even found a place that would let us host them, we bought flights and announced to our entire audience that it was happening.
To be clear, we had no fucking clue how we would carry these events out, but the truth is, if we didn’t make the bold commitment to do them, they never would have happened.
The events were hugely successful. About 60 people showed up to the first event: The Side Project Accelerator Micro Workshop, and about 120 showed up to the second event: Lessons Learned from Scaling a Design Team.
So you can see that this is a tested method and has been proven to work. I guess it’s about having just the right combination of confidence and recklessness.
This isn’t going to be easy
So like I said, I’m making the commitment to write one new article a day, for 30 days straight.
For some people who have already mastered the art of writing, this might not be such a daunting task. However, to give you an idea of how difficult this task is going to be for me- a blog post usually takes me a minimum of four hours to write and prepare. I obviously don’t have four hours a day, seven days a week, for the entire next month to do this. So that means I will need to learn how to write articles faster and more efficiently.
Moreover, I don’t have 30 ideas for articles already planned out. And I most certainly don’t have 30 articles already written that I’m just waiting to publish. That would be cheating.
Actually that would have been really smart to do, and if I wasn’t such a serial procrastinator, I might have done that. But I’m just not that good.
Take the challenge with me
Now everyone knows that difficult tasks are easier to achieve in groups, and with support. What’s that cliche, “if you want to go fast, go alone but if you want to go far, go together”?
Maybe “misery loves company” is more appropriate here, but however you want to look at it, I’d love to have you join me on this journey.
If this sounds like something that interests you, and something that you think you’d also benefit from, then join me in the 30-day challenge.
- Let me know that you’re in by posting in the comments and put a link to the place that you’ll be publishing your articles
- You can join and do something other than writing. If you want to commit to doing 30 consecutive days of YouTube videos, or Facebook Live posts, or any other form of content, that’s cool too.
- You can tweet at me too, to let me know that you’re in or that you’ve published something. Use the hashtag #30daychallenge so everyone else can see it too. Actually you can do that even if you’re not going to take the challenge. I’ll take all the support I can get 🙂
FYI, we send out the Hacking UI weekly newsletter to an audience of more than 21k people with the best links to articles about design, development and creative entrepreneurship. So if you’re doing the challenge, and you publish something relevant (and it’s good enough), I’ll gladly share it in the newsletter or on our Twitter and Facebook accounts. A few additional eyeballs on your work should be some added motivation to keep you going.
Some tips to help you get started
And really, the things that I’m just telling myself and hope I stick to
- Have a method. We created a free email course that walks you through the entire process of finding an idea, outlining, writing, and promoting an article. This is the method that I am using for writing, and it works pretty well. It’s certainly not the only way, and it might not be the best way. But if you don’t already have your own method, then I suggest you check it out.
- Have a routine. This is the first thing that we set up with students in The Side Project Accelerator, and I truly believe that it’s the most important. If you want to do something new, you need to carve out the time for it. That means put it in your calendar, and block out that period of time exclusively for this purpose. If you want to achieve something new, don’t bullshit yourself. Make the time for it and be willing to make the sacrifices it requires.
- Don’t strive for perfection. Remember that a blog post can always be updated and edited after you publish. The important thing is hitting that publish button and getting it out there. If you have a bunch of half-written posts that never get their 15 minutes of fame on the beautiful interwebs, then you really haven’t accomplished anything at all, and you just wasted a bunch of time. (*If this is where you’re at today, don’t feel bad. I’m sitting in the same boat)
That’s it. I hope you join me on this challenge, and if you’re not brave enough, then the least you can do is read my articles and tell all your friends how awesome they are.
- Day 1: How to build side projects and not fail
- Day 2: To all Programmers: stand up!
- Day 3: Being consistent is really fucking hard
- Day 4: Cut the crap and start your side project today
- Day 5: The unexpected benefits of podcasting
- Day 6: Keep it short
- Day 7: Niche Blocked
- Day 8: A complete guide to set up HTTPS on your website
- Day 9: Why we’re changing the Hacking UI newsletter
- Day 10: What I learned through 10 days of consecutive writing
- Day 11: It turns out the world is not crashing down
- Day 12: What language shoudl I write my blog in
- Day 13: Running a webinar
- Day 14: Coffee: the drink of the devil
More UX & Frontend goodness
- Introducing: The Hacking UI Master Class - January 17, 2017
- Influencing an industry and building a personal brand with Khoi Vinh (Principal Designer, Adobe) - December 22, 2016
- How to grow a blog and remain true to your audience – Chris Coyier (CSS-Tricks & CodePen) - November 24, 2016
- The ups and downs of dominating a niche – Harry Roberts (CSS Wizardry) - November 10, 2016
- The best decision we ever made - October 31, 2016
- The teacher who never stopped learning – Kelsey Ruger (SPA alum) - October 25, 2016
- The musician who turned a side project into a multi-million dollar company – David Okuniev (Typeform) - October 20, 2016
- The freelance designer that stopped selling his time – Peter Nowell (Sketch Master) - October 11, 2016
- A complete step-by-step guide to set up HTTPS on your website - October 10, 2016
- The mission to give everyone their own home on the Internet – with Matt Mullenweg (Automattic, WordPress) - October 6, 2016