Today marks the three-year anniversary of the beginning of my daily publishing practice here on Free Refills. That first piece was entitled "Planting a Seed," and it concluded with these words: "Today is the equinox, and right here I am planting a seed. And I still don’t know what exactly is going to sprout."
I said I didn't know exactly what I was doing, but I hoped and expected that through the process I'd figure it out. I still don't know exactly what I'm doing, but I've published a piece every Monday through Friday for three years, so I guess you'd say that, whatever it is, I've definitely been doing it. Not without a lot of angst and struggle sometimes, but I've been doing it.
I'm now three years in, and as of today I've published 795 pieces. I've earned the right to call this a major project. I'm deeply, deeply proud of it, but the process is no longer leading to growth. I'm going to keep doing it, but it's going to look a lot different now. I'm done with the struggle.
I see now that writing a piece every day doesn't work--it keeps my focus on the immediate moment, it's not fun, and it's getting in the way of the larger-scale writing that's so important for my growth and my future goals. There needs to be a greater separation between the weekly drafting, the daily Refill, and the process (draft-revise-iterate) of creating more substantive pieces. Each and every part of my writing process needs to be done in a spirit of joy, giving and gratitude. I teach that we don't have to live in struggle. Why am I not practicing what I teach?
Many, many years ago, I came up with Ben's First Law of the Internet, which I express most often as: You aren't the only one. For every one of your interests, there is someone out there--actually many, many someones--who shares that interest. In some cases, this wasn't obvious until the internet made it possible to share those interests with the world. But if you had your own website (in some ways no longer necessary in our world of social media), no one could stop you from talking about whatever you wanted to.
Recently I've been looking over the oldest zero drafts from this project, and I see things that I like--sentences that delight me, ideas that seem exciting. When I combine that realization with Ben's First Law of the Internet, it strikes me that the daily Refill can and should be about process: "Here's something I worked on/am working on. I think it's interesting/fun/cool. I hope you do too."
To put that another way: someone somewhere might read something I've written, even just a brief excerpt from a zero draft, and find it interesting, or enlightening, or delightful. In our challenging world, they might find themselves for a few moments feeling a little less alone. And that's all the reason I need, or will ever need, to keep sharing.