(disclaimer – quality of blogging may vary)
This is my 354th post on this blog, in the 430 days since I started it (and average of 0.82 posts per day, for those of you keeping score) so I think I’m fairly proficient in not only writing every day by this point, but by writing every day for a prolonged period of time, not just powerblogging through individual weeks at a time. So for those of you looking to write more regularly, here are some tips from a bloke with no real expertise on the subject, but an overexaggerated idea of the significance of his 250-odd followers.
1) Have a reason
You need a reason to do anything, big or small, but being generically ‘creative’ every day is bloody hard work – there’s a reason we only get an essay every other week here at UCL – so you need a defined, important reason to stick at it when you’re 84 days into a streak and your last five posts have all been on the surprisingly (and depressingly) intricate details of the socks you decided to put on that morning.
For me, it’s purely artistic, the idea that if I write in a particular style (cynical and comedic) for a particular audience (literally anyone) I’ll be able to write in those ways without too much thought behind it, so I can focus on the content of individual pieces, rather than faffing about with word choices and paragraph structure, because that stuff’s already in the back of my mind. For you it might be monetary, that your blog is a key source of income, and more posts mean more cash, which is in no way a superficial thing if you’re still enjoying the writing; for others it may be competitive, that you just want to rack up more posts than me in a year, in which case I will gladly accept your challenge of pumping out 365 URLs of drivel in as many days. And I will win.
2) Don’t ‘make time’
A piece of advice for anything creative that I see floated around on the vast, well-meaning but ultimately bullshit-filled oceans of the Internet, is that you simply need to set aside 30 minutes a day to be creative, and your ideas will flow. Yeah, no.
That model suggests that ‘being creative’ is in some way intrinsically different to the rest of your life, that you can go through 99% of your day without being a writer, then snap into it for half an hour at a time, a model that is divisive in its ideas and problematic in its realisation – if you’re not motivated during that specific half-hour, looks like you’re back to being an illiterate shit again today. My egocentric blog theme – I write about me basically all the time – isn’t an ego trip, therefore, but helps unite my blogging life with the rest of it; I write about events I go to, people I meet, and most of the opinionated pieces stem from real-life events that I make a note of on my phone as they’re happening, for me to go home and type up into prose later. So don’t set time aside to make art, live life as if it’d all make a great painting or poem or whatever.
3) Tell everyone
In the last year alone, I’ve told my teachers, friends, family members, potential employers, local newspapers, arch enemies and Cambridge University about this blog, through a combination of word of mouth, gratitude for reading my blog of their own accord, extra-curricular activities chucked onto CVs, and indignant closing statements in debates I lose that ‘I’ll be blogging about this later!’
Again, this isn’t an ego thing, nor is it an attempt to get more views (okay the posting every piece to Facebook on a daily basis might just be for views, but that’s a big part of my audience for which I’m very grateful for!), but I’ve found that telling people you do a thing is a great motivator for doing that thing; it’s hard to put ‘I write 700 words on a blog every day’ on a Cambridge admissions piece and then not write the best streak of 700-word posts you’ve ever written in the following week.
4) You’ll suck, but that’s the point
This point is an extension of the ‘quality versus quantity’ argument that every less-than-overly-supportive friend lobs at me when I tell them the ridiculousness of the whole daily blogging thing: essentially, your daily creations, be they a series of blog posts, paintings, short films if you’re really on the ball, are not and will never be your best work. I don’t intend to publish all 350-whatever of these posts in an anthology one day and wait for book agents and/or whores to throw their bodies at me and demand I give them more until they’re totally full of what I have to offer; when I’m writing for a purpose, like an essay, or an article to be published, I spend whole days on the damn pieces – I’ve put over a week into all bar one of my essays this term and my latest submission to Savage, UCL’s arts magazine, has involved two rewrites. Two!
If you want to be bullshitty about it, imagine your creative life like a watch; your daily-updating side project is the nuts and bolts behind the face whose existence helps the face operate smoothly and elegantly, while the face itself is the polished cover you put on the rambling mass of gears beneath it, one with a defined purpose, a specific agenda to get across, a target audience to attract or whatever. And the more gears you have, the greater variety of faces you can easily slot on top of them to vary those goals and audiences I mentioned, which is precisely why I started posting poetry on this blog. So don’t worry that the gears are unpolished or a bit misshapen, that’s not their point.
5) Make friends doing it!
This last one applies to anything creative, but especially the daily creative scene. I’ve met people I consider to be friends here on WordPress; they live in Canada, Australia, Colombia (for some reason) and the south coast of England among other places, so we’ll probably never meet unless I make a crap-ton of money to pay for travel or decide to paddle to different continents in a canoe, but I enjoy talking to them at length, both about specific posts and other things in our lives, to the point where the comments section resembles a Facebook chat more than anything else.
And it’s a big motivation for me to write for their sake; I know they don’t read all my posts, and by no means do I expect them to, but I find that ‘being creative’ is often a cold and distant business, where you can feel like you’re pumping novels and drawings out into the ether of the Internet, never to be appreciated by anyone, and rendering the whole exercise pointless. But I have a gaggle of people on this site who have humanised the whole experience for me, making any failures on my part seem more real, as actual people are involved – so if I claim to write daily, I feel like I’ve lied to or let down actual friends when I don’t, and making yourself work while on the brink of social depression like that is a great way to be creative every day.
If it weren’t for the rigidity of this format I like so much, I’d make the social depression idea into its own point.