Last update: 14:09, 17/12/20


Parent: [[Lessons]]

It all started with a desire to create a habit, sounds reasonable doesn't it? Wanting to be less sporadic, less inconsistent. What I didn't know was that desire would take me through joy, pain, burn out and depression.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Allow me to take you back to 2013. For five years I had been blogging primarily about social media, initially to promote its use and growth, and later to look at the science and psychology behind it. I was trying to turn a personal interest into something it wasn't, trying to be a 'citizen journalist' rather than a blogger.

I had always envisaged ways for social networks to be better, for new functionality to provide a better experience. While I was trying to sell them as a "must have" for all I was really just projecting my own personal wants onto whatever service I was discussing (usually Twitter) but it came from a genuine love of "social" and the potential it held.

The problem was, treating blogging like journalism, always wanting to be right, drove me on an unhealthy quest for perfection. I went for days, weeks, sometimes months without publishing anything. Don't get me wrong, I wrote regularly but nothing matched up to this crazy notion of quality I had in my head. This won't, but that's another story.

It's likely that I only hit publish on between 5 and 10% of what I wrote, most things were never finished. I wrote from impulse and emotion, and if I wasn't able to finish something in one sitting it was likely discarded; the moment was lost, that particular emotional state dissipated never to return.

The longer this went on the worse it became, building frustration lead to ever higher standards and an ever-increasing doubt that I could live up to them. I had taken breaks before but 2013 saw me consider jacking it all in completely.

Something needed to change.

Starting something

From mid 2011 I had been spending most of my time online at Google+ (also written as Google Plus) {{}} because Twitter, with its 140 character limit at the time, felt restrictive and not conducive to good conversation.

Seeing 2013 as "a lost opportunity" I wanted to do something different during 2014 so, in a post called "Stupid is as stupid does" on 4th January 2014 I made a vow: I would write something, anything, every day for a year. Not only that but I would publish it, no matter what it was, so that I could be held accountable. As I wrote at the time:

"It is said that if you do something for 21 days it becomes habit. The actual time it takes for something to become second nature various with the task but the concept is sound: whatever it is do it, even if you have to force yourself, until it becomes ingrained in your psyche, until it becomes as much a part of you as breathing and comes just as naturally."

The idea was to get away from the notion of perfection, to become comfortable with hitting publish on whatever came to mind. It wasn't specified at the time, this was just an idea that developed over time, but the goal evolved and became for me to write an average of 300 words per day. I mostly succeeded, some days were less, others considerably more but setting the target as an average allowed for this fluctuation, reducing the pressure even further.

This vow became what I would come to call the #Write365 project which became my life for just over a year (I missed 5 days due to illness so re-added them at the end to have 365 posts) and has haunted me ever since. Upon its completion I always intended to do something with all of these words, over 110,000 of them all tapped into my phone, and my initial thought was some kind of anthology but, for reasons I will go in to later, this never happened.

In that introductory post I wrote that "we don't find out who we really are and what we can achieve until we are willing to bare all (metaphorically speaking) and expose our vulnerabilities, until we make mistakes and learn from them." Little did I know how prophetic this sentence was to become, what impact the Write365 project would have on me at the time and for years to come.

So here we are, six years later, and I feel that I have unfinished business with both the project itself and what it influenced, how it affected me and how that still impacts my thoughts and mental health to this day.

Word count: 774