The biggest writing lesson I learned this year

I started this blog about eight months ago. And in my year-end review I discovered that I've written more than 32,000 words between my blog and my newsletter! (If you're not signed up for my newsletter, you're missing out! I talk about things that never make it on to the blog. Sign up by clicking here)

This number astonished me. In part because some of my posts were really short (less than 300 words). In part because that was NOT EVEN ON THE RADAR of important things I got done this year (two academic publications and another big one in press, starting and running a business, and running a non-profit part-time). In part because it was accidental: I didn't set any word-count targets.

Not that word count is everything. But that's not the point.

The point is that I wrote. I produced work. More than 100 pages of work, without really trying.

The only thing I did was to make sure I wrote and published every week. I was able to accomplish all of this because I was consistent. Let me say it again:

I was consistent.

I made a deal with myself in April that I would post something every Wednesday. I told my newsletter subscribers that they could expect a letter from me every week with a link to my latest post.

That was enough for me. I built in some accountability through the social pressure of telling people my plans. I convinced myself that people would notice if I didn't send a newsletter every week (even though in reality this is probably not true at all). This made a big difference, too.

I was accountable.

The writing had to be complete enough to post by Wednesday morning. I don't think I ever hit 'Publish' thinking that what I'd written was any good. But I had a deadline to meet. Making that deadline was much more compelling than my desire to be perfect.

So this was my big lesson this year:

Consistency + Accountability = Productivity

I know that a lot of us get stuck on getting started. We also get stuck on being perfect.

But what if you started with being consistent?

There's another major advantage to consistency: you improve as you go. Have you ever taken a break from writing and found that you're rusty when you get back to it? That's the benefit of being consistent: you're turning writing into a practice.

Consistency doesn't mean you need to write every day. That may not be realistic for you. But it does require that you make a commitment to yourself and that you stick to it.

If you want to build some accountability and consistency in to your academic writing, join my membership group! Spark provides tools and motivation to support your academic writing.

How could you build some consistency into your writing next year? Tell me in the comments!