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Building faster learning loops for writing in public

I'm going to live inside this feedback loop for the next 100 days to become a better writer.

Ondrej Markus
Ondrej Markus
4 min read
Building faster learning loops for writing in public

It's about a year since I started writing on this blog. I'm spending more and more time doing it and I've learned a lot in the process. In fact, writing is one of the best things that happened to my learning.

But even though I'm improving, being a proper maximizer, I notice things could get significantly better if I made some changes. I need to find a way to finish things more often.

Over 2020, I committed more than once to finish one article every week, and I always failed. My writing never seemed good enough to be let into the public. I just couldn't let go. I was endlessly polishing my writing to the point when it felt worse than what I started with.

Writing sometimes feels worse as time goes.
Writing sometimes feels worse as time goes.

Even today, I regularly get myself trapped with an article I start to hate, and it takes an enormous amount of energy to push it over the finish line. Or end up shoving it into a digital drawer and pretend it never happened.

That doesn't feel good, and it's not productive for learning.

What needs to happen

I want to finish things consistently to learn faster. And I see 3 things that have to happen to make that a reality:

  1. Daily writing routine ✅ - This one I already have. I sit down every morning to write from about 8 to 11 am. No meetings, no phone, no email. This works well for me.
  2. Consistent publishing goal ❌ - My life works best if it has a regular rhythm. But even though I write every day, I don't finish things on time. Aiming to write one article per week often lets me get tangled up in perfectionism. I need to finish articles more often than once a week.
  3. Public feedback arena ❌ - I only publish things here plus I send them to a few friends for feedback. It's better than nothing, but getting reactions from hundreds would be better than from a few. However, I'm social media abstinent and my new Twitter account has about 10 people following me. Nothing really happening there yet.

Leveling up my learning loop

Now, I've thought about these for a while. I searched the webs for tips and tactics. And these are the parts of the loop I'm building for myself:

  1. Daily writing routine → Write 3 hours every morning from 8 to 11 am
  2. Consistent publishing goal → Publish 1 article every workday for 100 days
  3. Public feedback arena → Create Twitter threads from every article

This combo demands a major redesign of my writing process. Until now, I usually wrote articles in 4 drafts spread over a week or two. Now I need a process that will enable me to start and finish an article in one day. This is how it should work:

  • Write an article from 8 to 11 am until it's finished
  • Write only one draft (in Notion), then do one revision (in Grammarly)
  • Put it on Ghost and hit the publish button
  • Create a Twitter thread from the main article points
  • Spend 20 minutes connecting with people on Twitter (using best practices from Making Twitter friends)
  • Research for tomorrow's article in the afternoon (ideally decide what it's going to be today so the brain can start working on it in the background)

I'm planning to do these for 100 days to build a strong writing habit. And even though 100 is a lot, I think it's necessary to make it really stick.

Do this every day for 100 days.
Doing this every day for the next 100 days.

Why this feels like a good idea

  • Articles often take as much time as you give them. In theory, an article that took 20 hours should be better than one finished in 3 hours. But is it? it doesn't always feel like it. It seems like finishing takes as much time as you have. So getting articles done in a couple of hours should be feasible if your process is prepared for it.
  • We are not the best judges of the quality of our work. Writers often say they are not able to predict their most popular articles. That the ones they think are exceptional often go without anyone noticing, and other ones get unpredictably popular. It's impossible to predict what's going to succeed. So it's better to let others decide that, and focus on the work instead. The process is the only thing in your control, the outcome is not.
  • Quantity is the shortest way to reach quality. The more shots you can take on a target, the higher is the chance you will hit it. And if you can learn to shoot every day, you can take 100 shots in a time you'd otherwise make 10 or 15. So even though quality is the ultimate target, quantity seems to be the necessary vehicle you need to get there.

Try it first, decide in a week

I'm going to test this for a week starting today. Only then I'm going to decide if I want to commit to the full 100 days without shaming myself for now being able to stick to it. I'd recommend that to everyone considering this.

I don't want to create needless misery for myself by being stuck in my own ill-advised commitments. I've been there already when my overly motivated self generates promises my regular daily self cannot possibly fulfill. Not a good place to be.

Yesterday's Me is an optimist...
Yesterday's Me is an optimist...

However, this routine is something I'm studying and thinking about for weeks. And I believe this is what I need to do to finish things more often, get more feedback, and improve my writing by building a faster learning loop.

LearningWriting

Ondrej Markus

I write about life design.