As you may know if you follow my blog, in 2018 I started writing a daily post on stoicism for a whole year. It was a way of commiting to reading one daily meditation of this book: “The Daily Stoic: 366 meditations on wisdom, perseverance, and the art of living“.
Throughout my stoic journey, not only I learned a lot about Stoicism, but about myself as a person, about blogging and writing, and also about entrepreneurship.
In this post, I want to share my thoughts on the lessons I learned.
What Writing A Daily Post Taught Me As A Blogger
Except for the time when I was hospitalized in Riga for 10 days, and one or two days more, I am proud to say that I honoured my commitment. I -almost- wrote one daily post every day for 365 days straight.
Sometimes, due to a specially busy week, I would write the posts in IA Writer or even Notes and then edit them later on WordPress, add the images, tags, categories, etc, and publish them in batches.
Stephen King, in his novel, “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft”, recommends every aspiring writer to write two thousand words every day:
If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.
I didn’t get that far. While some of my posts even became regular articles, with around 2000 words, like this one, most of them were 500 words at most.
However, forcing yourself to write one post every day, regardless of its length, has had a tremendous impact on my writing, and has made me a better writer.
Benefits Of Writing A Daily Post
To begin with, the more you write, the better your writing becomes. That’s a fact. I’m not an English native speaker, so obviously my writting skills are more limited in that language. However, writing every day, having to look for new phrasal verbs, local customs and colloquial phrases to add more punch to my writing, really helped me develop my writting skills.
I think you can actually see this improvement if you compare the first posts from January 2018 -or any of my other articles from that time- with the last ones. Yes, I’m still far from being Shakespeare, but it’s a noticeable development.
Next, it forces you to overcome your writer’s block. When you have no choice but writing something, anything, whatever comes to mind, you may end up with some mediocre content now and then, but your mind gets used to the fact that it needs to write something. There were many days when I was simply not inspired, and produced dull stoics. But other days, I was so inspired that I wrote thousands of words in a breeze.
As Pablo Picasso affirmed, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working“.
Finally, it encourages you to be more disciplined. That helps a lot, not only as a blogger -because publishing regular, interesting content is essential for a blog- but in other areas of your life too. In my case, I set aside one hour in the evenings to write the daily stoic, and it served me as an anchor to find some relax and end my day writing, often with a hot cup of tea.
Why The Daily Stoic Is A Perfect Book For This Challenge
You can write about lots of different things. You can pick any book, read one page every day, and write about it. Or listen to one song every day for a whole year and write about what they make you feel.
However, the Daily Stoic is a perfect book to use for several reasons.
First and foremost, because it contains one daily stoic meditation for every day of the year. It’s been thought to make you read one page every day, so you have a fresh new topic to write about daily.
Next, because due to its philosophic nature, it allows you to add your own personal voice on what’s being discussed. You can let relate most topics with almost anything you can think of. In my case, I wrote about everything from entrepreneurship to my memories as a child or my beliefs. That gives you a lot of flexibility and helps you keep your writing creative.
Curiously enough, one of my biggest criticisms about the book is also another advantage when it comes to writing about it. I found the book to be quite repetitive on certain ideas, such as what you can control and what you can’t, our reasoned choice or our view on what’s good and what’s bad.
This is actually a good thing, as it forces you to look at the same concepts from different angles to add something new every day. Publishing that on a book helps by enforcing you to not bore your audience repeating yourself over and over again.
Finally, by writing about stoicism for one year, it becomes super easy to digest the stoic lessons and incorporate them to your daily life. It’s a perfect way of getting to know a school of thought: by practicing it.
Why Writing A Daily Post Made Me A Better Entrepreneur
Entrepreneurship is hard. Growing a business is a difficult path. Full of excitement, yes, but also of stress, anxiety, doubts, and missteps.
When you are just starting to grow a business, you have a boost of enthusiasm and passion. You are going to change the world. However, that energy soon vanishes when the first problems appear, things go wrong, or you just don’t have enough money to pay your bills and have to moonlight on something else.
Stoicism teaches you to stay away from those extreme emotional reactions. That does not mean supressing your feelings, but apply a rational filter to avoid being taken over by them.
For me, one of the turning points was finding myself in a hospital in Riga, around September 2018, treated with antibiotics. Too much work, too much stress… I had been burning the midnight oil for too long, and I was paying for that. Needless to say, my business was not going to get any better in that situation…
As I stayed there in distress, without knowing what was going to happen to me, or how would I pay the hospital bill, Stoicism kicked in like a caffeinne shot. Suddenly, all I had been writing about and reflecting on for eight months made sense.
I accepted that I could not control the situation I was, but I could control my choices.
So I decided not to worry about future bills while my priority was getting better. I also decided to hire someone to reduce my stress levels, even if that will eat most of the revenue. I focused on the present, on recovering. And it worked. Yes, I lost some business, but it was not the end of the world. And hiring that person was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
What I Learned About Stoicism
Stoicism has added a lot of value to my life. The Stoic philosophy has lots of very valuable teachings, and I think some parts of it are a perfect match to a lot of other stuff I love, such as Minimalism.
I’ve been an atheist from a very early age. I never identified myself with any religion, political trend, sports club or social group. In my mind, tagging yourself -calling yourself “this” or “that”- is something that limits your freedom and makes you commit to the whole when you may only agree on a small part.
So in order to call myself a Stoic, I would need to agree on all stoic teachings. absolutelly everything. That didn’t happen. However, it’s true that Stoicism has changed me.
I was skeptic at first. I am the kind of person that’s always over-analyzing things and worrying about everything. That has always caused me a lot of stress and problems. I had no hope in any book changing that.
But it happened. I have learned to look at things differently. I try not to care and worry about things outside of my control anymore, or things that simply may not happen at all.
Lessons learned from Stoicism
So these are some of the things that Stoicism taught me:
- To live the present, without worrying about the future. It’s ok to be careful and plan in advance, but never let the future deprive you of your present.
- That we care and worry a lot about thousands of things that are not that important, like the news, politics, our football team winning the match, criticism from some internet guy we don’t even know…
- To not always have an opinion on things. It’s liberating.
- That our fears are our worst enemy, and while many times they are unfounded, the time we waste worrying about them is real.
- That there are things that are outside of my control. So getting angry, sad or even happy about them does not make any sense.
- An most importantly, that I’m eventually going to die, and I should be ok with that (still working on that one, though ;).
In 2017, my friend Jan offered me to join the challenge of going through this book, The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living. Unfortunately, I stopped reading it around April due to work and responsibilities.
In 2018, I decided to try again, but this time I decided to write a daily post about each stoic meditation as a way of commitment. The trick worked, and one year later, I am happy to say that I wrote 365 posts, one for every day of the year.
Writing a daily stoic post has been an amazing experience, and I have learned a lot not only about Stoicism, but about myself as a writer, blogger and entrepreneur. Much like a blog, starting is easy, but it’s damn hard to stick to it till the end.
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