Reflecting on 100 posts in 100 days


This is a big blog post for me: it is #100 a 100-day blogging challenge!

I started this challenge exactly 100 days ago, and have hit the publish button everyday since then. Along the way, I have had a great experience. I have built the blogging habit, learned about myself, and learned a few lessons on startups and entrepreneurship. I’d like to wrap up the challenge with a reflection on the process, how things went, and my plans moving forward.

Building the blogging habit.

I wrote earlier on building my blogging habit (#35).

Much of what I wrote in the earlier post remains the same. The only important part of it all has been to commit to publishing every day. That means that I have to hit the publish button before I go to sleep. If I haven’t published, I don’t sleep. It is now almost 3am California time and I can’t wait to publish this because then I get to sleep.

One thing that has helped me blog every day is to remove process and preparation. Before this blogging challenge, I used to brainstorm ideas to write about, create outlines, write, re-write, and re-write again. All of this process and preparation creates dependencies that requires much time and thought. When trying to blog every day as a side project, all of that time is just overhead. Instead, I removed all state from writing. I simply sit down, come up with a topic, write a bit about it, and then hit publish.

Is this the optimal way to write?

I’m pretty sure it isn’t, and I’ll get back to this later. But, I am sure it is the only way that I could publish every day.

The biggest benefit to writing every day.

I outlined most of my reasons for blogging in a prior post on why I write. In the post, I describe why I don’t write, and why I do write. For your reference, I’ve listed the reasons that I write below:

  • I write to understand life.
  • I write to share my thoughts.
  • I write to understand entrepreneurship
  • I write to figure out product
  • I write to make creating and shipping a way of life.
  • I write to motivate myself.

There is a common theme among these: writing forces me to create time to think.

We are all busy in some shape or form. Each day comes with its own challenges and problems, and it can be easy to lose perspective. Writing has forced me to back out at the end of each day, and think about the big picture. This is how I come up with my daily blog topic. I think about life. I think about the life I want. I think about what matters to me. I think about my work, and how things are going. I think about product. I think about strategy. I take the multiple moving parts within my life and work, and then synthesize them to determine how things are going. Along the way, I usually come with with a few interesting thoughts, which benefits my life, and leads me to my blog topic for the day.

External benefits of blogging every day.

I most blog for internal purposes, but there are clearly external benefits to blogging every day.

First, it gives me an online presence. I have met people offline who have stumbled across my blog posts and recognize me from them. I am not Internet-famous by any means, but it is cool to be recognized from my online work (although I suppose if I actually became Internet-famous one day, it wouldn’t be cool anymore).

Second, consistent writing has helped in increasing this blog’s following. I haven’t promoted this blog much, but there is a noticeable difference in traffic. Before the 100 day challenge, I had ~100 email subscribers. As of today, I there are just under ~1000 email subscribers. This isn’t a huge numbers, and I don’t know how many of them are fake WordPress/email accounts, but the increase in subscribers is a benefit, and something that I have definitely noticed through the last few months.

Is publishing every day optimal?

In the last 100 days, I’ve learned that blogging every day is definitely doable as long as you are OK with sacrificing one thing: quality.

I occasionally go back to old blog posts, and within a minute, I’ll find a typo or a grammatical error. Those are bad, but it can get much worse. Sometimes I find my old arguments pointless or potentially wrong. Sometimes I remember points that I should have added. These are all quality problems.

If I look at my blog, I’m fairly sure that none of my best posts are in the last 100 posts. Before the challenge, I rarely blogged, but I put more thought into each blog post.

If the goal is to produce quality material, publishing every day is not optimal. However, if the goal is to produce and ship a new creation each day, publishing every day is optimal. It really depends on the goal, and I need to figure out what I want in the long term.

An alternative is to write every day without committing to the publishing every day. It would provide me the benefit of writing everyday while allowing me the time to hone each work of writing. The downsides are that (1) I’m fairly sure I wouldn’t iterate through as many thoughts, and (2) without a strict target, I might get lazy. It may be possible to make word count a strict target, but I don’t believe that is a good target. Much of revising and improving writing involves reducing word count. It may be possible to use time as a strict target, but time doesn’t always equal productivity. I need to think a bit more about this, but it could be a good option.

Where to go from here.

To be honest, I’m not sure. But I would like to be. So here is a first cut at it:

  • I would definitely like to keep writing everyday. I’m not completely sold on publishing every day, but for the time being, I think I’ll try continuing the habit.
  • I’ll lose the signature below each post. During the 100-day challenge, I wanted a signature to keep track of the number for each blog post. I figured that along the way, I’d add my Twitter as well as the project I’m currently working on. Now that the 100-day challenge is over, I’ll lose the signature
  • I plan to write more about my startup journey. Looking back, I realize I’ve written a lot about life and startups in general, but haven’t written much on my specific journey. The biggest reason for this is that it is difficult. I find myself with more questions than answers. And I find myself failing and being wrong a lot. It is hard to write when you feel you are flailing about. However, it may also be interesting to the world, and help future founders who come across this blog.
  • I will probably be more promotional. I don’t like the idea of promoting and marketing, but the fact of the matter is that it is important. Beyond that, it will be tough to write specifically about my startup journey without writing about the startup. And on the Internet, any mention of something is promotion.

Overall, I’m glad that I did the 100-day blogging challenge. Thanks to David Spinks for kicking this thing off. I’ve learned a lot about myself and startups along the way, and it has given me good momentum that I don’t want to let up on just yet.

I hope to keep writing, and I hope that this blog will get better over time. If you have any thoughts or feedback on anything, especially from the last 100 days, I would love to hear from you in the comments!

Living online documents


I haven’t been treating this blog as an “actual” blog.

As a reader, I view blogs as a place for regularly published posts which are read and then immediately forgotten. As a writer, I view blogs as a place to publish a piece of writing and then move on to the next piece.

I can’t think of my blog this way.

Instead, I think of each post as an unfinished piece of work that acts a stake in the ground for an idea that may be worth thinking about. In the future, I may come back to fix up typos, grammatical errors, add/remove sentences, or even add/remove entire ideas.

This means that each post is a living online document. I wish that there was some way for the public to view it as such. Instead, people just see the new posts within their email or RSS readers. To my subscribers, I’m sorry about this. It is unfortunate because all of the ideas are half-baked and may contain some horrible typos/errors. I hope you still find the ideas interesting, and perhaps find your way back to some of the posts in the future (after the 100-day challenge when I can revisit posts).

This points to an interesting thought about online publishing. Most content online does not change. News articles don’t change. Most people don’t change their blog posts. Facebook and Twitter posts don’t change. And at the same time, content is growing at and exponential rate. The Internet is becoming a firehose of half-baked articles that could be better, but never will be.

The current Internet rewards quantity. Yet, over time, it is the evergreen quality posts that really matter. One could expect writers to publish fully formed evergreen content, but this is very difficult. What makes sense is to revisit ideas, iterate on them, and then iterate on the writing.

Is there some way to support and encourage living online documents? If someone could figure how to make living documents engaging, IMHO, the Internet would become a much better place.

P.S. This is post number #70 in a 100 day blogging challenge. See you tomorrow!

Follow me on Twitter @alexshye.

Or, check out my current project Soulmix.

I’m writing 100 posts in 100 days

Power of Words

Yesterday I came across a blog post by David Spinks on writing 100 posts in 100 days.

My first thought was, “Wow, that is a great idea. I wish I could do that.

Then I remembered the most important lesson I ever learned: just do it.

So now I’m doing it 🙂

Why 100 in 100?

I’ve always enjoyed writing.

One reason for this is that I grew up with a speech impediment. I used to stutter a lot as a child, and still do when I get nervous. Although I can’t always communicate clearly through speech, I can write as whatever I want.

Another reason is that writing just feels good. There is something cathartic about sitting down with your thoughts, distilling them, and putting them down to paper (or virtual paper). It is an exercise in self expression, and must be why artists love their craft.

That said, I not a good writer. And I am definitely a slow writer.

There is a reason that I rarely blog. It usually takes me a few days (sometimes up to a week) to get any post to the point where it feels publishable. And even then, I’ll make a pass after publishing and find all kinds of typos and mistakes that should be fixed.

I want to get better at writing, and this an awesome way to do it.

Embracing the suckitude.

I promise one post a day. That is it.

Some posts will be really short. Some will be wrong. Some will be pointless. And some will just plain suck.

But it is all good.

If there is one thing I fully believe in, it is the power of ritual and habit. I’ve already seen it in various areas within my life.

  • Try running everyday, and see how fast you get.
  • Try lifting everyday and see how strong you get.
  • Try coding everyday, and see how good you get.
  • Try partying everyday and see how much your alcohol tolerance increases 😉

I’ve never tried blogging everyday, but am sure it will be worth it.

Let’s see where this goes!

Here we are: post 1 of 100, complete.

See you tomorrow!

Follow me on Twitter @alexshye

Check out my current project Soulmix, your daily mix of food for the soul. Request an invite for free early access!