The commitment that changed my career + my next project.
In May 2012 I made a commitment that changed my career: A simple task, completed every day, that skyrocketed my blog and allowed me to make over $30,000 in 6 weeks. Ready?
Here is the exact commitment I made:
“I will write 1,000 words every day.”
I tracked my progress in Commit, an iPhone app I designed for tracking habits. The first few months were off and on. I would build up a chain of 5-10 days in a row, but then something would happen to break the chain (usually travel). But then starting in July I kept the streak going. First 20 days, then 30. Soon it was so long that I was going to write 1,000 words every day no matter what happened.
This allowed me to make rapid progress on my book, The App Design Handbook, write dozens of guest posts for other blogs, and continue to write each week for my own site. After the insanely successful book launch I wasn’t sure what to do next. I didn’t have the next project planned, having put everything into the book and launch. So what next?
Well, I had that commitment, so without skipping a day, I kept writing.
A delayed project
On November 7th, 2009, I created a text document called “Outline.” As the title suggests, it was an outline for the book I was going to write about designing web software. So if I started writing a book in 2009, why did I not publish one until 2012?
The commitment is what made the difference. Every previous time I had tried to write a book (yes, there were several previous attempts) I worked on it when I felt inspired. The results were pathetic. I never managed to write more than 5,000 words for a single project.
Now I am thrilled to say that I have written 1,000 words a day for 100 days in a row, for a total output of approximately 100,000 words of content. I guess I’ve come a long way from the days I struggled to write enough each week for a single blog post.
A successful project needs a huge amount of content. Not just for the product itself (in my case a book), but also promotion posts, guest posts, tutorials, help documentation, and all kinds of other content. Here’s a rough breakdown of what I wrote:
- 20,000 words of guest posts
- 30,000 words for The App Design Handbook
- 25,000 words for the new project (see below)
- 15,000 words for my own blog
- 10,000 words for my chapter in The Smashing Mobile Book
That reminds me. I was asked to write a chapter for Smashing Magazine’s new book on mobile. Smashing Magazine is a massive design blog (nearing 1 million readers) that has some fantastic articles. When planning The App Design Handbook launch I wrote to Vitaly, the editor-in-chief, about writing guest posts on the site. I was very surprised when he responded right away saying that he was thrilled I emailed, because he’d been meaning to email me. Huh? He runs this massive site and was planning on emailing me? I wasn’t sure he would even remember who I was.
Turns out he had come across some of my recent blog posts on designing for iOS and was looking for an author to write the iOS chapter for their mobile book. I was honored, to say the least.
Then he told me who else was a part of the project. These were all the superstars of the mobile design community, people whom I look up to and read all their work. As I read his email I looked at my desk and saw two books from people who would be my co-authors. I looked at my computer screen and saw articles already open from three more. And I was being asked to write alongside them. None of this would have happened without my commitment to write 1,000 words per day.
The Software Design Handbook
So with my new habit formed, I am thrilled to announce that my next project is the book I’ve been wanting to write for over 3 years: The Software Design Handbook.
The Software Design Handbook will cover everything I’ve learned in the last 5-6 years of designing web software, from refining your idea to designing the user experience. It will also include code samples, case studies, and interviews with other expert designers. So far the interviews include Ryan Singer from 37signals, Sacha Greif from Folyo, Brennan Dunn of
Planscope, and Trent Walton of Paravel. In the next few weeks I’ll be revealing even more great interviews.
If you are interested in designing great web software, check out the book here.
Otherwise, just keep reading this blog and I’ll try not to talk about it too much. Oh, and the book comes out December 12th. Just six weeks away.