Are Your Structures Helpful? (Plus, A Four Month Experiment)

I’m a believer in structure. Many of the core habits I rely on would fall to pieces were it not for the regular ritual. I would never have become a black belt had I not trained every week. I never would have become a writer had I not written everyday. The list goes on and on.

Structure does two major things.

One, it reduces the thinking or decision making process. Instead of having to decide every week whether or not you are going to train, it’s already part of your routine. There’s no thinking, you just go do it. And if you “don’t feel like it” on a particular day, then the structure offers the support to continue going with the practice. It carries its own momentum and pushes you forward.

Two, it creates space. By limiting options you free yourself to dive deep. For example, one of my favorite forms of poetry to write is the sonnet. Why? Because instead of worrying about how many syllables to make each line, or whether or not I ought to rhyme, I can focus on what I’m trying to say. The constraints sharpen my focus, and, in a way, make it easier to create a quality poem.

Yet there’s a line.

Sometimes structure can become too limiting. Sometimes it can start taking away from what you really want to create in and with your life. Sometimes, you have to recreate the structure to serve as a better container for you and the body of work you’re trying to build.

I’m realizing my weekly posting schedule has crossed that line for me. It’s no longer a helpful structure.

When I set out on this project a few years ago, I knew that if I didn’t set a regular schedule, I’d never write. My previous website died for that reason. I knew that I had to create a practice of shipping my work out regularly.

So I decided to write every week. Every Tuesday, I’d create a post. No excuses.

And for a long time, it worked. There are many weeks where the simple requirement to show up has forced me to create posts I’m quite proud of. It also got me into the discipline of creating regularly. I learned how to bring projects – even if they were a single post – to completion. It got me to write regularly.

Yet there was another piece to the vision of this project. I wanted to create posts that moved people – that moved you. I wanted to create stories and essays with depth. I wanted to share ideas I felt were important to share.

I still do that to an extent. But as I’ve directed more and more of my attention to building my copywriting business, which is another important project in my life, I haven’t had the same amount time to think and ponder over each post. Nor have I been out and interacting with people as often. Nothing bad about that, by the way, it’s just the season of life I’m in right now.

I often find myself getting to Monday or Tuesday with no idea what to write about or what I want to share. That’s fine for every now and then, but I’ve learned that when a problem keeps coming up over again, I need to pay attention and make some changes.

Maybe I’m still serving you, but I’m not serving you in the way I want. I’m not hitting the depth I want to go for. I’m not honoring the time and attention you give me in the way I feel you deserve.

It’s hard to change. There’s a lot of fear around changing a structure that has worked for years…

Will I still write? Or without the weekly deadline, will I just keep putting it off?

Will I actually create better posts?

Will I lose readers? Will they be disappointed in not getting a post every week?

Will this project that I care so much about just fade away? Will I abandon it?

So I’m going to launch an experiment. I’m going to put my fears to the test. For the next four months, I’m freeing myself from the schedule of posting every week. Completely.

Instead, I’ll only post when I have something I want to say. I’ll post when there’s an idea or story I just can’t help but share. I’ll post when I’m overflowing with energy and excitement.

What will that look like? Who knows? Maybe I’ll only post about once a month. Maybe I’ll post more often than I do now. Maybe I won’t post at all. Any outcome is acceptable. This is an experiment.

At the end of four months, which will be marked on my calendar, I’ll re-evaluate. I’ll look at the experiment and decide what I want to do going forward. And I’ll share with you what I learned.

Thank you so much for being a part of this journey. You are a blessing to me.

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PS: What structures do you have in your life that may not be helpful? Is there an experiment you could run to test an alternative way of living?

4 thoughts on “Are Your Structures Helpful? (Plus, A Four Month Experiment)”

  1. Josh, I read your words and immediately felt a send of loss. Funny how that works. Your ideas are full of insight, there when I want to come back to them and reliable.

    I was listening to that song this morning, “Only miss the light when its burning low, only missing home when you are on the road.” I remember years back leaving my high school sweetheart, ending the un-needed relationship as I headed off to college free of attachments. Well , as I realized the loss it near killed me. My insensitivity came back a hundred fold. And as I deserved she never came back.

    I do wonder what it is about being human that we often don’t appreciate the good in front us til its removed , even for a time.

    Life is so busy its hard to take in all we would like to. I have appreciated your good ideas and the manner in which you express them . Original thinking is your nature and I am sure you will have much more. Just on your schedule. And I will be here. Thank you my friend. Tom

    1. Thanks, Tom. I appreciate your kind words.

      I don’t intend to stop though.

      If anything, this is my way of re-energizing the project. Of finding out if the obligation to write is helping or hurting me. Of finding out if a different mode/rhythm of creation allows me to create better work. Of reconnecting to the place of gratitude my best writing always comes from.

      My suspicion is that it will. But if not, when my calendar reminds me, I can always return to the same schedule I’ve had so far.

      As always, thanks for reading. 🙂

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