I started my writing challenge in June 2015. Since then, every single day I have written and published a new blog post. It’s been both tough and easy, depending on the day. I’ve had times when the words just flew across the page, where I was done before I had even started. I liked those days. I also had times where it was an incredible struggle, where I had to use more discipline than I knew I had to finish my day’s quota.
I’ve had good days and bad days. I’ve just never had so many bad days in a row like this session.
I try to write in the morning, to get it out of the way so to speak. I mean, that expression has a negative connotation, which doesn’t really fit here. You eat your vegetables first to get them out of the way, so you have ample room for dessert. This isn’t like that. Rather, I try to write in the morning because I know I’ll have time and energy. At night, after work, it’s far too easy to take the easy way out, to just go to sleep and leave my writing streak stranded.
Over the last five days, I haven’t written in the morning, and I’ve barely kept my streak alive. Continue reading →
A few months ago I wrote how little things add up. Doing a little bit every day is often better than doing a lot at once. If you’re going to eat an elephant, it’s a lot easier to do it bite by bite rather than one big gulp. The same is true for most things. Not everything, but most things. The bigger the goal, the better this approach works.
I now have evidence of just how much this works. Since June 2015, I’ve written a blog post every single day. They started small, but they’ve gotten better and better as I’ve gotten used to writing more. I’m also enjoying it far more, but I want to focus purely on the numbers. So far, I’ve written a little bit more each day in 2016 than I did in 2015. It’s just a little bit more each day … but that’s every day, and 2016 is more than half over. Those little bits have really added up.
Added up to over 40,000 words, to be exact.
Back on August 5th, that marked the 218th day of the year. From June 1st, 2015 until the end of the year, that worked out to be 218 days as well. In both cases, over 200 days of of writing, but one averaged an extra 200 words a day. That’s three paragraphs… and three paragraphs times 218 days equals 43,000 extra words.
“The first step in getting what you want is deciding what it is you want.” — Ben Stein
Sounds obvious, right? Surprisingly, it’s harder than it sounds. Most people don’t know what they want. It looks like they do, but they really don’t. Sure, they want lots of money, a nice house, a healthy body … but also want lots of stuff, days off and a chance to relax, watching the game while eating some nachos and drinking a cold one.
Most of these wants are opposed. People want to have lots of money … but they don’t want to work, and would definitely prefer not working hard. People want a clean, healthy body … but they want to eat all the same foods and would would definitely prefer not to go to the gym very often, or ever even.
To get what you want, you legitimately need to ask yourself, what do I want?
While at work, something relatively common occurred. The head instructor was writing something, and in the middle of it he paused, looked at me and said, “How do you spell ‘extravaganza’?” I paused for a second, then said, “Extra – va – ganza, all ‘ehs.’” He nodded, thanked me and went back to writing.
It’s a fun word to say.
Everyone at work knows I’m university educated; I have my master’s degree in philosophy, a rather unusual thing for a martial arts instructor to have. They also know I’m a good writer. I’ve done some editing work on the side, and I wrote some of the online copy (that is, sales writing) on our website. They know I’m smart, they know I write well, and I frequently get asked how to spell words.
That’s great, but there’s one small problem: I’m actually a terrible speller. Continue reading →
Today is July 1st, a very special day. Most importantly, it’s Canada Day, a national holiday. That’s always nice. Of secondary importance, it’s the beginning of the NHL free agency period, one of the busiest days in terms of player movement. There may be no better day for a Canadian hockey fan than July 1.
More than that, though, today is the beginning of July, the seventh month. The year is officially half over. Six months have gone, six months remain. It seems like just yesterday we were welcoming in 2016, and now it’s half over and soon it will be done. That’s … quite sobering, really.
Most people have long since abandoned their new year’s resolutions, but not me. I’m constantly thinking about how I can improve, where I need to improve and what I need to do to get there. I set some pretty lofty goals back at the beginning of the year, and now is the perfect time to make sure I’m still trending in the right direction or if I need to change something. Continue reading →
June has been a rollercoaster, mostly in the up and down sense. It started with grim determination … and then I immediately got sick and had all my plans thrown into chaos. I spent two weeks getting back to normal, and once normal I resumed my grim determination to make myself the best person I can be … and so far it’s working.
I briefly experimented with using ‘themed days’ throughout the week, so one day devoted entirely to fitness, another entirely to chess, etc etc. This lasted for about a week before I hated it and went back to my old standard of doing a little bit of everything every day, and I’m much happier for it.
Still, it’s been strange, as I’ve spent half the month basically recovering from sickness and other half trying to go full speed ahead, which is a strange dichotomy. I don’t know if it affected me in any way, but it’s been a mental grind at times. Continue reading →
I wrote yesterday about how it’s okay to not be the best at something. Even as I posted it, I wasn’t happy with it. Not that it was badly written, but rather it didn’t say what I wanted to say. I had a particular idea when in mind when I started writing, and as the paragraphs went on I twisted and veered away into something different.
I guess that’s what happens when you write without a fully formed plan. Oops. I intend to correct that today.
We all have different interests, passions and hobbies, and it’s natural to want to get better at them. If you love baseball, say, you’d want to throw faster and hit harder. That’s fine and healthy. You might invest time and training honing all your skills, following baseball-specific workouts. That’s great. You might spend every waking moment thinking about baseball, training for baseball, playing baseball, devoting your entire life to become the absolute best that you can be.
I want to not only be the best, but the very best.
And you know what? Even that’s okay. It’s not necessary, and I wouldn’t fully recommend it, but it’s okay. Continue reading →
You’ve likely heard the old adage, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” When I first heard this, I was confused. Are you supposed to eat elephants? Are they a delicacy or something? Or maybe it’s like fugu, where it’s inedible unless prepared in a special way.
I WANT FUGU!
I soon learned that, no, this wasn’t about the culinary aspects of eating elephants, but rather the logical aspects. An elephant is huge. You can’t fit it in your mouth, not all at once. How do you eat it, then? Well, first you take one small bite, then another and another, and given enough time you’ll have done it. It might take a year, but you’ll do it. You’ll conquer this elephant-sized mountain.
This idea extends beyond eating elephants. If you’re after something big, often the best way to go about it is through many small steps. Continue reading →
In my efforts to become a better person, I constantly set new goals. I want to be stronger, smarter, faster, fitter; I want to learn new skills and get better at the skills I currently have. That makes sense. Who doesn’t want to get better? The hard part is putting enough time in to get better.
This isn’t even my busiest week.
You have to put enough time in. You have to. There’s no other way to get better. Time is a universal currency. You get 168 hours a week … and often you look back and think, gee, I only spent one hour working on a particular skill all week. That’s not a good ratio. True, you can’t spend all those hours on one thing, but you can spend more than one, right?
Even worse, sometimes you get really busy doing other things. Important things, certainly, but other things. Then you look at the calendar one day and realize you haven’t practiced anything in nearly three weeks. Where did all that time go? It just vanished. That’s not a good way to spend a universal currency.
And that’s exactly why, after some trial and error, I’ve come to what I call ‘my structured day.’ Continue reading →
YEE-HAW! I’ve done it! I’ve gone a complete year of writing every single day!!
I’m not sure which of these cats describes me best. Probably all of them.
On June 1st, 2015, I made a committment. I said I’d publish a new blog post every single day. I said I would do it for the summer, two months. That seemed reasonable. Two months then became four. Winter came and went and still I was writing, still I was publishing. My daily streak kept growing and growing, and now, today, I’ve done something I would have thought completely impossible one year ago.