The End and The Beginning

“Take action. Every story you’ve ever connected with, every leader you’ve ever admired, every puny little thing that you’ve ever accomplished is the result of taking action. You have a choice. You can either be a passive victim of circumstance or you can be the active hero of your own life. Action is the antidote to apathy and cynicism and despair. You will inevitably make mistakes. Learn what you can and move on. At the end of your days, you will be judged by your gallop, not by your stumble.”
-- Brad Whitford


This is the end. My daily writing project is over; this will be the last of consecutive daily posts that began on September 6, 2017. That post was called "Three Reasons Why I Will Write Every Day." The three reasons were: 1) beating my resistance, 2) documenting a new chapter of my life, and 3) becoming a better writer. Originally, this writing project was going to continue until I graduated in June, but I decided last week that I would end it today, on January first -- an end and a beginning.

Did I beat my Resistance? I beat it every day for the last four months -- but I also learned, as Steven Pressfield would (and did) warn me, that it never goes away. Even when writing becomes habitual, which it did, there are still some days when it's difficult to summon the motivation. Starting is always the hardest part, and still the secret to succeeding. That might be the most important lesson I learned; I think it's easy to know and understand things conceptually, but actually doing them brings a more refined or nuanced type of understanding. I learned how, in practice, to actually start and finish.

Did I document a new chapter of my life? No doubt. I have already spent some time going back to read posts, and they already make me smile. I'm glad I built this catalogue to look back on and draw from and remember. I also am really happy to have put into writing some valuable advice that I think will be useful to people, particularly "How to Write a Statement of Purpose." 

Did I become a better writer? Yes. I learned how to write consistently and quickly, and that skill transferred from blogging to academic writing more easily than I imagined it would. I am able to put together good writing that I'm proud of for classes much more quickly than I could in undergrad. Not all of that is due to this writing project, but some of it is. 

My goals, as I've laid out above, have always been internal, not external. This writing project was for me -- it wasn't about clicks or audience size. That being said, it's been fun to look at the Squarespace Analytics. Since I started, I've had over 5,000 page views. I have had readers from all across the United States, as well as a handful of foreign countries, including Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Russia, Norway, Germany, Turkey, Canada, Pakistan, Myanmar, Malaysia, and the Philippines. I'm proud of that.  

So why end now? A few reasons. One, I think I've reached the point of diminishing returns. The project has done me a lot of good, and I've proven to myself what I wanted to prove. While I think there are still positive returns to be won, I'm not convinced they are worth the considerable time and energy required to continue this project. 

My word for 2018 is "action;" I'm wearing a wristband brandishing the word. I love the quote by Brad Whitford at the top of this post. Every accomplishment is a result of taking action. So, in 2018, I'm going to focus on taking action. What that means for my writing is that it's time for me to evolve past writing for internal purpose and start writing for external purposes. While I often would engage with public policy issues on the blog, I usually write from a personal place, too; the tone is somewhere between journaling and persuasive writing. There's a different between engaging with issues and contributing to the conversation. In 2018, "action" means writing for an audience -- to newspapers, magazines, political blogs, and more, on pressing issues in education and politics. I want to contribute to the national debate in the United States and the statewide debate in Oregon. I want to offer valuable ideas and thoughts and solutions, and I don't believe a daily blog is the best platform anymore.

So I will be writing every day, but I'll be focusing more on quality than on quantity, and I won't be posting daily. I'll spend more time editing and developing my arguments, and less time writing just to write. My writing will be focused and aimed towards accomplishing something.

To those who followed along over the last few months, religiously or sporadically, thank you. I hope you've enjoyed reading my writing, and I hope you I provided some value to you. I will still be using this space to share my writing.

Here's to a bigger and better 2018 for each of us.