Zach's PEN #43: Daily Publishing ☑️

2021 Week 20: This experiment was a success, and on to the next one...

Dear PENpals,

On December 22, 2020, I began an experiment. I decided to write and publish a blog post/Twitter thread, somewhere between 250-1000 words, every single day for 100 days, and for no particular reason.

I did that, and during some pretty difficult times at work and at home.

It was easy.

This, after a series of 7,000(ish) days during which I wrote maybe a handful of things, all for some very important reason, and never published them. ~20 years, a few dozen unpublished things. 100 days, 100 times pressing publish (115 times if you count this PEN, another experiment of mine).

So, apparently, I can write some things down and publish them. They don’t have to be great, or even good. I can do them from a blank page (on hard mode), and there’s not a lot of rhyme or reason that I can figure out behind which ones resonate with people and which ones don’t. There were several that I spent extra extra time on and never heard anything about. Then there were a few where I was just totally phoning it in before bed after a long day and a whole bunch of people reached out to let me know it meant something to them. 🤷‍♂️

But I needed to be sure... Maybe anyone could post for a hundred days straight... Particularly as some kind of short-term goal. So I decided to continue the experiment.

Now 150 days in, I’m ready to call this experiment a success. It can be done. I can write something every day. In 150 days, I’ve written 70,000+ words of “original stuff,” spending about 30 minutes a day. I find these results promising. Not because the raw weight of that text is enough for a novel and a few screenplays. That way of thinking puts me in a sick place that I don’t like. It shuts off all valves of curiosity and creativity and enjoyment for me. I’ll admit though that if I step back and look at it objectively, it’s an interesting datapoint.

Let’s take away every good thing that has come from this daily posting habit, which is a lot. Why else does it matter to me? Well, if I can write that much with no reason and no crutch in that small amount of time, there are a number of things I have assumed are true about myself that are, in fact, false. What does that mean?

I can’t forget the conditions set up for this experiment: I wrote for no particular reason. Putting Reasons and Goals behind my creative efforts was an unintentional experiment I ran from the age of 19 until... last year. Reasons and Goals not only don’t work for me, they have the opposite of their intended effect.

So now, with the intention to carry nothing with me beyond my own natural curiosity, I begin my next experiment, which will not involve compulsory daily publishing. This experiment is about taking this energy and directing it toward exploring the stories I like making up, and exploring them at least five times a week for at least 25 minutes.

I have no expectation that this will be as easy as daily posting was. So much of my psychology is still tied up in the damage I’ve done around creativity. Each one of these experiments seems to be healing that nonsense, but it may take a while, and that’s okay.

To be clear: Posts may come out of some of these explorations. But that’s no longer part of the experiment.

This Week's Posts

I wrote about a lot of guilt I have about unfinished projects...

I wrote about a trick to deal with anxiety about something looming/impending/coming up.

I wrote about how I'm weirdly OCD about cleanliness unless there's fire involved.

I wrote about some of the songs I sing to my kids when they're going to sleep.

I wrote about a trick to deal with anxiety about something looming/impending/coming up.

I wrote about the ultimate dream I have for my Zettelkasten.

I wrote about some gamechanging features that David Vargas at RoamJS has given us.


My parents are in Philadelphia visiting us right now. Wendell was out on the sidewalk with Toto and Boop drawing with chalk while Louisa was at a birthday party for one of her best friends.

The family just ate some falafel and tehina shakes and everyone needs a nap now.

Here’s a picture from yesterday: Boop and Allison walking Wendell to one of our neighborhood restaurants for lunch.

Wendell’s had a 104+ fever a few times this week and it’s great that he’s finally feeling better.

All seems well.

More soon, PENpals,