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Matt Eland for Tech Elevator

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Insights from 1 Month of Writing Every Day

5 weeks ago I set out to write at least an article on software development every day. What follows are the ups, downs, and lessons learned from that process.

Why on Earth would you do this?

So, first of all, why would I do this? Well, a month ago I applied to speak at my first technology conference. Though I'm a very experienced professional, I do not frequently change jobs and have worked primarily for small to medium-sized Software as a Service organizations. Therefore I'm not widely known, even in the area.

Since I have a message I want to get out there, I decided to write every day prior to the cutoff for speaking abstracts, just so organizers could get a sense for who I am, what I care about, and how I think.

The plan was to write 7 articles and call it at that.

This is now my 36 published article, following a streak of writing at least one article a day since August 27th.

What Happened

My first week consisted of writing articles on Medium to little or no viewership.

Since my primary audience was a small handful of organizers curious about who I was, I didn't care that much if the general public wasn't clamoring over what I had to say, but I did find that writing was resonating with me and that I still had more to say.

Then an awesome member of the local development community suggested I check out, a blogging platform centered around developers and other technologists.

I ported my week's worth of stories onto the platform and got immediate viewership, enthusiastic support and encouragement from readers as well as assistance promoting my articles from the staff.

This encouragement gave me more energy, and seeing what resonated and didn't resonate with people helped me tune and improve my own writing style and topic selection.

This is also exactly when my writing moved from something centered around a hope to be taken seriously for a conference to something centered around teaching, learning, and sharing in a community.

With the continued practice and added feedback of the community, my skill continued to improve to the point where I began to be selected by publications and Medium's own curators on the Medium platform.

Medium viewership stats after 1 month of writing

While my viewership numbers aren't fantastic for a professional blogger, I'm a professional developer who just wants to share more, so seeing that my work is making a difference in others is huge - particularly for someone with a heavy bent on teaching.

So, let's talk some specifics about this journey.

The Good

Helping Others

I've gotten a lot of comments on how things have been helpful, helped people understand concepts more clearly, or given people new ideas, and that's made it all worth it.

Global Community

I must humbly say that I had not understood how truly global the software development community really is. It simply wasn't one of the things I thought about. And every night, almost without fail, I would publish an article in the early reaches of the morning and go to bed and wake to find hundreds of views already as well as comments, reactions, and follows from people of all nationalities.

My lack of understanding for how global this community is was staggering and correcting this was perhaps one of the best things that came out of writing this way.

This thrills me. Now I'm not just helping junior developers in Ohio, but people throughout the world with problems far more severe than the local ones. If I can take a small part in equipping and encouraging the global community to do the things their minds are set on, we'll all be better for it.

Meeting People

Speaking of community, I've encountered some really great people. You see the same people commenting on posts again and again and you begin following more people on twitter and soon, they're a part of your life and you're being encouraged by them (and hopefully vice versa).

Learning new Things

Related to that, the comments people can leave will often tell you about things you had no awareness of whatsoever or give you new insights or ideas to try.

Additionally, the act of writing an in-depth article will force you to deepen and broaden your own understanding of a subject, as well as think about how to best communicate it in a way people can teach. I did this with my SQL Server series and really grew my own skills significantly in the process.

Skills Improvement

The act of writing and releasing something small every day helps focus and improve the skills of even an experienced writer. My insight into how readers read articles, in particular, has improved by this process.

Others Promoting my Work

When I see the folks at tweeting about my articles or Medium or its publications promoting an article, it boosts my confidence and resolve and it helps me have energy to keep going. It also shows me what the people who follow me are interested in.

Professional Reputation / Confidence

I've felt a greater degree of confidence and lessening of that impostor syndrome most of us deal with. While I can't quantify this further, it's been helpful for me to get out there and get out of my comfort zone and interact with new people in the community.

Seeing quick 'throwaway' articles succeed

It's been pretty cool to see trivial 'low energy / time' day articles succeed and make a difference.

Success breeds more success

With Medium in particular, I've noted that when articles succeed to even a modest extent, they bring continued success over time and that success spreads to other articles you've written in the past as well as future articles.

Content Already Prepared

Because I've recently given a detailed talk on software quality and have studied the subject extensively this year, I had a lot of content ready to go at the beginning of this journey and have been able to trickle a lot of it into various posts.

Forming a Habit

By writing at the same time every evening or on the weekends, I've fallen into a cadence of sorts, making it easy to focus on the task at hand.

The Bad

Writing the important things first

Unfortunately, my very first article was the one I cared the most about and felt the most passionate about. I say unfortunate because my skill improved after that, I had no following a the time or awareness, and as a result, the interesting topic of using the Scientist family of libraries to eliminate user-facing defects went relatively unread for awhile, particularly on Medium.

Writing while Sick

I got sick during this month and had a pair of days with a bad fever in particular. I still wrote on one of those days, while the article the next day was written after my fever went away. Committing to this course of action might not have been the wisest thing when sick.

I had to proof the article a number of times, but this one article on Action-Oriented C# written under a fever is one of my top articles on Medium now, so ... I guess I still did okay.

Focus on Quantity can erode Quality

By restricting myself to writing an article mostly in a single sitting, I expect some quality issues, focus issues, and that the level of polish might not be as good as it could have been.

While the quantity approach has helped me get better quickly, some of these articles could clearly have benefited from more love and attention.

Loss of Time

Writing takes awhile. An article takes anywhere from 30 minutes to 4+ hours (for the more technical items I don't already have code for). This is time not spent developing or relaxing by playing games (Typically I write later in the evening after my wife has gone to bed so it's not as much of a loss of family time).

The loss of time for new development hurts quality a little, and the loss of recreational time likely contributed to getting sick.


This one surprised me. I got some hostility from the JavaScript community over a testimonial article I wrote on how me switching a specific application over to TypeScript eliminated all known defects in that application.

This was not intended to be a "You should use TypeScript" style of article, more of a "Hey, this is what happened when I adopted it in a very specific scenario", and yet some of the reactions were very hostile in trying to take a JavaScript vs TypeScript war to whatever front they wanted to.

This, notably, was my first article not related to general software engineering or .NET development.

Lessons Learned

So, what have I learned from my foray into daily writing?

Meta Details Matter

First of all, what you put in your article title matters a huge amount, as you might expect. On Medium, the 140 characters you get to write a description of your article matter significantly as well.

The cover image is incredibly important if you'd like to see your work promoted or shared. I strongly recommend using something from Unsplash if you do not have artwork that could fit this pattern.

Additionally, tags matter for discovery, but be honest about things.


Break up your articles with headers, bold, italics, images, and line breaks.

Keep paragraphs short as many people skim.

Why should I care?

The most important things to establish in an article early on are:

  • What the article is about
  • What you hope people will get out of it
  • Why people should care about what you say

For example, start by talking about a problem or a solution and why it matters, then talk briefly about what you're going to present.

What can I do next?

I also like to close with next steps for people. By this I don't mean exhortations to follow, like / applaud, etc.

I mean, tell people how they can learn more. Link them to official documentation, GitHub pages, other articles you've written on related topics, etc.

If people reached the bottom of an article, it's either because they want the tl;dr or because they liked it and want to consider what you talked about. Help them keep that momentum going.

Next Steps for me

So, one month later I'm ending my habit of daily writing. What's next for me is either preparing to speak at a major conference in January, or licking my wounds in October and taking on a larger technical project and sharing about that journey with a greater degree of polish than I've had in September and late August.

Specifically, you can expect either posts related to one or more conference sessions I'm preparing for or you can expect a strange series of articles on "Emulating Squirrel Brains in F# with a Blazor UI in .NET Core 3".

Yes, I know. I'm a strange man.

Edit: I was accepted to speak at CodeMash 2020, and so I will be working on slides. As it's not an extremely technical presentation, I should have some time for ongoing development and articles. I will aim for an article a week going forward and find a new flow

Next Steps for you

If you got this far, you likely are interested in taking your writing to the next level or trying something like this out.

I recommend giving it a limited trial. Try either writing every day or writing on specific days each week. Set a date, see what you see and encounter, and let me know what works and doesn't work for you personally.

Top comments (9)

peledzohar profile image
Zohar Peled

Interesting article! I feel the same way about writing - if you want to maintain any kind of credibility, writing about anything forces you to research and learn new stuff, even if it's something you work with every day.

Thanks for the interesting content you've provided so far, I know reading your next posts will be at least as good and educating.

seangwright profile image
Sean G. Wright

I'm happy to see that your writing has been beneficial and enjoyable for you.

I'm also glad you've been able to grow your reach and impact.

Consistency is so key, and also difficult (as you well know from writing while sick).

You're writing has been great and I enjoy seeing a notification every time you publish something.

I've been sticking to 1 post every Monday, in a niche topic/tech, with consistently long from content (7-15 minute read time).

I don't have much reach, or much impact outside of the tech (Kentico CMS), but I enjoy writing about it and I still get to write about software design in general.

I've gotten feedback from devs in the Kentico community that they've appreciated my writing, so that's a great motivator to continue.

I also will be speaking at the Kentico conference in Denver, CO next Tuesday, slotted in directly after the opening keynote... so that's awesome and exciting and definitely attributable to my writing.

I feel confident that your writing will get you your speaking spot at a conference, whether it's with the one you just applied to (CodeMash?) or another one later!

Congrats on your success!

integerman profile image
Matt Eland

Sean, you've personally been a highlight to me, having taught me of the existence of a number of things and having been a consistent encourager.

Columbus to Akron isn't too far and my wife's family is up in that area so I'm hopeful we'll cross paths in person sometime.

davidmm1707 profile image
David MM🐍

Great article Matt.

I also went from 2-4 readers per article to near 500 when I went to publications. And I like more the community (I get more comments and more insightful here)

But writing one post would kill me :)

helenanders26 profile image
Helen Anderson

Thanks for sharing Matt, I've really enjoyed your posts on SQL Server this month

integerman profile image
Matt Eland

I'm definitely not done with those. I'm relatively weak in that area and need to learn a lot more to teach my team so we can all be better. Writing is a great way for me to learn.

helenanders26 profile image
Helen Anderson

Congrats on the shout out in this weeks Developer Avocados newsletter :D

Thread Thread
integerman profile image
Matt Eland

Thanks! It's fun to see these aggregators I didn't even know existed and join a larger community.

vuesomedev profile image
Gábor Soós

Nice article, happy to see others get enthusiastic about this platform.

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