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Shipping 30 Atomic Topics in 30 Days

Shipping 30 Atomic Topics in 30 Days

Stewart Hillhouse
Stewart Hillhouse

Starting on November 16 I’ll be publishing one short article a day for 30 days.

I was in eager to participate for a few reasons:

Atomic Topics

In preparation for shipping 30 pieces of writing in 30 days, the organizer Dickie Bush recommended positioning your writing as Atomic Topics. I love that way of framing the exercise because it takes the pressure off writing fully fledged essays on a topic.

Atomic Topics are the tiny atoms that make up a much larger idea. They're really hard to see an aren't often document because they're usually knowledge that comes from experience or context.

In other words, these are topics that aren't taught in school.

Writing Less, On Purpose

I've noticed that I catch myself trying to write long, meandering pieces with all the backstory necessary for a beginner to read it.

That's fine, but without shorter pieces already complete, writing the exhaustive version takes a lot more effort.

Atomic Topics are tiny on purpose.

They aren’t designed to be exhaustive. They’re pointed, observational, and act as a way to buff a rough rock into a precious gem. Or, if after writing I realize there’s nothing to to, then it’s proof of work.

Conciseness is something that I’ve struggled with in my writing, so practicing getting a clear message out in a few hundred words will be a good challenge.

30 Days Straight

I’ve maintained a fairly consistent Morning Pages writing routine, but they aren’t topical. They’re free-flowing and reflective, but not meant to be read by others.

Turning my attention to writing consistently for 30 days straight on a topic that’s relevant to my audience (and the audience I want to attract) will provide a nice body of work to cap off 2020.

There is $50 Financial incentive to hit that daily goal as well. If I mis a day, I lose my bet.

Writing In Public

I’ve found that writing for myself takes a very different muscle than writing for others to read. Knowing that someone else it taking time away from their busy days to read my work makes me think about why something exists.

The writer’s greatest gift is the delete button.

One of the rules of this writing challenge is that every post must be shipped publicly and shared in the group to read.

Having both public accountability, financial incentive, and the personal motivation to publish all 30 pieces gives me very little room for excuses.

30 Ways To Say The Same Thing

In the registration, I was asked “In 5 words, what are you going to write about for the 30 days?”

I replied “Serve Before You Sell”.

That reply comes from a marketing idea that I have been chewing on for the last few weeks.

I think it captures the essence of modern marketing.

But I haven’t really thought it all the way through. I’ve only gone as far as posting that quote on LinkedIn and getting a lot of talented marketers agreeing.

So, for the 30 days, I’m going to attack that idea from 30 different angles. I’m going to push this idea all the way to it’s absolute perimeter.

At the end of the 30 days, my intent is to have a comfortable enough grasp of the idea that I could then mosaic my best points into a larger essay that’s got depth.

An inch wide and a mile deep.

If this writing method appeals to me, it could become a technique for being consistent while also developing quality pieces. 30 Atomic Articles for every 1 In-Depth post.

My Constraints

I have yet to read the official rule book, but here are the constraints that I’m going to work on top of their rules.

  • 1 post per day for 30 days
  • I’m allowed to document prompts and ideas, but the post must be written the same day it’s published.
  • I’m allowed to post more than once a day, but they can’t be pre-scheduled. It’ll just mean I’ll have more than 30 posts at the end of the month
  • Every post must be a minimum of 200 words.
  • Every post should relate to the quote “serve before you sell”.
  • I must promote each post on Twitter and LinkedIn. The best ones of the week get mentioned in Top Of Mind Weekly.
  • I must maintain my podcast & newsletter publishing cadence. Those can be pre-written.
  • I must edit each post before they get published following the “lightweight self-editing guide”
  • After writing, I must go back and find opportunities to link to other things I’ve written.
  • I must enjoy the process, not the outcome. I am not doing this for new subscribers, listeners, or followers.
  • I will connect with 1 other writer in the group every week (4 people).
  • I will still maintain all my existing routines (save Morning Pages).