Earlier in the year, I decided to write and publish 100 notes in a public notebook. Here are the key takeaways from that experiment. This kind of prolific creation habit can help you clarify your thinking and do better work.
I set out to do this inspired by Visa's "do 100 thing" blog post.
Here are 8 lessons from this challenge about writing, creativity, and disciple.
Lesson #1: Work begets work
The first 20 or so notes were easy. 21-80 were a slough. Then, magic: it got way easier to throw together notes. I was able to get through the last 20 easily.
Lesson #2: Systems come from work
Patterns that work evolve from work that worked. I didn’t start with a note-taking framework, one to evolve over time. What I ended up with was a mix of Andy Matuschak ’s take on evergreen notes + collecting links/quotes
Lesson #3: Ideas come from work
Your work is smarter than you. Creating and sharing more is how you get to improve. Creating more helps you see where've you been, so that you may better see where to go next. Feeling stuck?
Lesson #4: Break free from the ‘essay trap’
notes = shorter idea -> publish cycle.
Articles require extra work to get the idea out: structure, banner image, SEO, calls to action, etc. I love having a space between ‘private scribbles’ and ‘refined essay.’
Lesson #5: Release, rework, refine
Only start from scratch once.
Build on existing work.
By taking private notes and reworking them into a state they could be useable by someone else, I refined my thinking. Picked this one up from Venkatesh Rao's Calculus of Grit
Treat your writing like a codebase. Notes need occasional refactoring and maintenance.
Lesson #6: Don't get distracted
Notes are markdown files in 11ty (specifically @binyamingreen ’s digital garden implementation) There’s a lot I can do with ‘notes as code’ - But I put all of that aside so I could focus on finishing the 100 notes I set out to do.
Every project comes with plenty of work it’s better to not do.
Lesson #7: Have Fun
Creativity requires play. To be more prolific, you have to give yourself permission to write junk. Not everything is going to be good, and that's ok.
Work that doesn't succeed teaches.