The 100 day challenge

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: For the sake of explaining myself I’m going to waffle on a bit here until I reach 100 words. I’m almost there. Almost. Just a few more to go. Okay, we’re on the home stretch now. Waffle, waffle, babble, babble, babble. So close now, and three, two, one, STOP. 100 words done. 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. In fact, 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 go. 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 very 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? Yet, 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. Today marks the day that I finished! Yay me! Self pat on back.

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. On a family trip to Durban I had to write my words on my phone (which I would then email to myself), while lying in bed before getting up to start my day. 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 nasty 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 about it!