Write 100 words for 100 consecutive days.
This was the challenge on one of my writing groups, and my first thought was: I’ve got this. It’s going to be so easy.
Come on, 100 words?
That’s not a lot. In fact, I’m going to show you just how little it is:
Start: For the sake of explaining myself I’m going to waffle on a bit here until I reach 100 words. It’s not all that difficult. Add a few words here, and a few words there. Just a few more to go. We’re on the home stretch now. We don’t have much longer to go. Waffle, babble. It’s not all that hard to find the words to write. I’ve got this. I’m almost there. I can feel it. I’m like a runner who has just reached the stadium. The finish line is finally in sight. So close now, and three, two, one. End.
Look at that. I wrote 100 words.
The challenge: Write 100 words for 100 consecutive days. If you miss one day, you start from the beginning.
Surely I could do this every day.
As it turned out, doing this for 100 days was not nearly as easy as I thought it was going to. I failed at my first few attempts, and declared I’d never try it again.
Until 100 days ago when I decided to try give it one more chance. There was something very satisfying each time I filled in my little block on our group’s spreadsheet, and the further I got, the more uneasy I became about failure. I could fail at ten blocks in, twenty would even be okay, thirty would be sad, but anything after forty would be devastating. Once I got over the halfway mark, I knew there was no way I could give up.
I am aware nobody would actually care about my accomplishment, and that in the grand scheme of life it would be worth very little.
What? You mean I don’t get a medal for it?
Despite this, it wanted to do it, and I wanted to win. I’m big on personal accomplishments, and I wanted to prove to myself I could do it. And I did.
Carving the time out each day was hard, and 100 days is a lot longer than you think. Some days I was so busy that the 100 words felt like an intrusion. Saturdays were especially hard because it’s the one day of the week I try not to use my laptop. Going away was the worst, because I literally had to step away from friends or family to get the words in. I often had to write my words on my phone (which I would then email to myself) while lying in bed. And some days, well, the words just wouldn’t come, and a hundred would feel like a thousand.
In other words (excuse the pun), it wasn’t easy.
Of course, being a writer isn’t easy, and if you think it is then you’re in for a surprise. It’s about putting in the hard work, and making it happen despite the sometimes dire circumstances. It’s about coming up with ideas in the middle of the night, and writing it down in a sleepy haze. It’s about getting up early, or staying up late, and getting the words down around your busy schedule. It’s about endless cups of coffee, and making your dreams come true. If you want to be a writer, only you can make that happen.
Would I do the 100 day challenge again? I would. Not just yet, but I would. Why would I do something so obviously difficult? Because even on the busy days I ended up with more than 100 words, and writing every day helped keep my head in my story. Because 100 days later, I actually finished my novel.
Have you tried something similar? I’d love to hear more!