100 Days to Offload

Prior to building and deploying this website, I spent a lot of time thinking about content and what I might have to offer readers. I’ve worked in user-centric roles for pretty much my entire career, so it stands to reason that my first thought would be about perceived value for anyone who comes across my site.

The more I have continued to think about it, the more I believe that focusing my writing efforts on crafting a blog that provides technically useful or helpful information goes against my original intent in building the site.

I write documentation, tutorials, and user guides as my day job, and this form of writing requires research and quite a bit of scaffolding. Quality is determined by a piece of writing’s usefulness to someone trying to accomplish a particular task.

There are thousands of technical blogs about technical writing, information architecture, and UX writing. While I want to write blog posts that readers find useful, I think that focusing solely on that style of writing will mean that I spend most of my free minutes on work-related projects and considerably less time writing for its own sake. Removing the expectation that the things I write in my free time need to be for anyone other than me can give me the freedom to write candidly, and more importantly, regularly.

The Challenge

Lately, I’ve gotten really interested in jamstack sites and reading personal blogs built on minimal websites. Ten or fifteen years ago, I’d guess that 25% of the things I read were personal blogs. Since college, that number has dwindled. Some of this is likely the result of the ever-changing social media landscape. Twitter hot-takes and blurbs have replaced a lot of long form writing, but I’d imagine my reading habits have changed since I’ve spent so many work hours reading technical documentation and business-centric books that by the time I get home, I want to decompress by reading fiction in the evenings.

A few months ago, I found a blog post written in 2020 by Kev Quirk where he talks about how the popularity of the hashtag #100DaysOfCode inspired him to create something similar for people who write on personal websites.

I was already familiar with #100DaysOfCode, having failed miserably in my commitment to program for a minimum of an hour every day for one hundred consecutive days. The piece of Kev’s post that I found most compelling was his statement that "posts don’t need to be long-form, technical masterpieces’ but instead ‘a simple and fun way to get people writing’.

The core idea here is that writing is a skill that requires practice, and focusing too much on one type of writing can lead to burnout. Quality, popularity, reader engagement, or website analytics can obfuscate the main goal. Not every piece of writing needs to be researched. It doesn’t need to be deep or meaningful.

In the end, it comes down to the personal goal I’ve set in creating my blog. I’m a technical writer, but I’m not seeking to create a technical blog that can rival Tom Johnson’s excellent I’d Rather Be Writing. Similarly, I’m not trying to develop a personal blog that’s as popular as Tim Ferriss’. I’m not using SEO or analytics on this site at all. I’m not tracking my readers. I haven’t integrated comments or likes. It isn’t that my blog is directionless or unfocused. I want the writing process to be the focal point. Everything else is superfluous.

I’m challenging myself to complete 100 Days to Offload and to write a minimum of one hundred blog posts in the space of a single calendar year. While I hope that some of the posts prove useful to readers, my primary goal is to write every day. Worst case scenario, I fail to complete the challenge but learn something about myself along the way.