Why To Make A Change – April Challenge


Write 90,000 Words.  Step Up At The Gym.  Quit Drinking (Temporarily).

It’s time to make a change, and have some fun while doing it.

Over the past few years I’ve been getting better and better at self-motivation, productivity, and juggling the multiple things I care about (friends and family, fitness, work, writing, etc.), but I always end up asking myself if there is more I could be doing.  I wonder if there is more left in the tank.  I want to take the next step and do something great, quickly, and make a name for myself (i.e. publish a book that people will love).

At the same time, the more I do, the more I realize how much I love the doing.  No that was not a typo.  Yes that was a grammatically correct sentence.  What I mean is that I love challenging myself.  I love the feeling of making progress, of striving towards something.  I realize that it is this sense of purpose that makes me happy (that, I think, secretly makes us all happy).  End-states are nice, but they will always lead you to another goal.  If you learn to love reaching for your goals, you will learn to be happy throughout your life.

If you’re like me, and I bet you are, you probably feel like you want to take the next step – whatever that means for you – fairly often.

Which is why I’ll be spending the entire month of April challenging myself in several different ways, and I’d love it if some of you could join me.

As you probably saw at the top of this post, there are three really great – and difficult – challenges that I’ll be taking on in April:

  • Write 90,000 Words
  • Step Up At The Gym
  • Quit Drinking

Write 90,000 Words

April is Camp NaNoWriMo month, where you get to set your own goals, and you win if you reach them.  Simple as that.  For a lot of people this means shorter word targets (under 50,000), or an editing target, or a goal of outlining your next book.  For me it means I’m actually ramping up the challenge: I’m going to write 90,000 words (hopefully over 100,000, so I can finish my entire manuscript) this month.

I have never been this excited to start writing a book in my life, and that’s why I want to – and think I can – write it in a single month.  As a sidenote, I’ve recently achieved the goal from my 15 Days To Done post; I’ve finished plotting, outlining, creating backstory, creating characters, settings, etc.  For some insight into how detailed I get when planning, all of the outlines, character sheets, setting descriptions, and backstory details amount to about 42,000 words (84 pages in Microsoft Word (single-spaced), or 145 pages in a mass-market paperback novel).

I’m ready to go.  It’ll mean a serious round of editing in May to find any plot holes I missed in my outline, fix them, note areas that move too quickly or too slowly, and improve the overall wording and imagery in the book.  But that’s okay.

This story is going to be killer.

Step Up At The Gym

For the last 7-months I’ve been trying really hard to gain weight through nutrition and a serious gym schedule.  I started at 6’1, 170 lbs, and am up to 184 lbs as of yesterday.  Now that it’s April, it means it’s time to reverse course and shed the fat that I’ve gained along with the muscle.  I’ll be taking my diet down from 3,500 calories per day to 2,500, and doing a new workout split.  This means not skipping gym days, getting my nutrition right and eating clean, and making sure I stay motivated.

I expect the change in my diet to make a noticeable change in the way I feel: lean meats, fish, veggies, healthy fats, good carbs.  It also means I’m going to…

Quit Drinking

As an aid to the above two challenges, I’m also going to be quitting drinking for the month of April.  Since most of you don’t know me personally, I probably have to tell you outright: this is a pretty big deal for me.  I usually go out with friends 2-3 nights per week, during the day Saturday, and go to happy hour or drink and watch a movie 1-2 additional times per week.  It’s been a big part of my lifestyle.

With the two goals above, though, it’s important to avoid hangovers, feel better day-to-day, and keep my brain happy.  And I also can’t forget that I still have a full-time day job that’s intellectually demanding.  I’m excited to see what positive effects quitting alcohol will have for me.  Full disclaimer: my girlfriend is not too happy with me about this one, but the truth is I’ll still be going out with her and with our friends, I just won’t be drinking alcohol with them.  I’m sure that’ll make the bar more interesting/annoying/amusing when 2am rolls around and everyone around me is 10 shots deep.

My Promises To You For The Month

There are a few promises I’ll make to you for this month as well:

  • Short, paragraph-long entries for each day of the week, posted in an update on Saturday mornings.  Here I’ll detail my word-count for each day, how I felt the writing went, where in the story I am, and when I wrote.  I’ll also have some funny stream-of-thought complaints on the challenges overall.
  • One regular blog post per week on a variety of topics – Wednesday of each week.
  • At least 2 new Write in Weird Places entries over the course of the month

There is never a great time to commit to something crazy, to promise ourselves that we’re going to spend a whole month focusing our entire purpose on something that really matters to us – there will always be obligations, excuses, too much travel, work, prior commitments.  But we owe it to ourselves to destroy those excuses and succeed anyway.

April is a perfect month to start.  Spring is coming, the weather is turning warm, and the sun is finally spending more time in the sky to help us stay awake and active past 7pm.

One of the greatest motivators is mutual accountability, and I would love it if you took on an April challenge with me.  Share your challenge below so we can keep each other going; if you want, make a post about it on your own blog and comment with the link so I can follow along with you.

What are you challenging yourself to do this April?  Camp NaNoWriMo?  Something else?  What do you wish you could accomplish, if you could accomplish anything in the world, next month?

18 comments on “Why To Make A Change – April Challenge”

  1. Kudos, David! I’m actually challenging myself, too, this month. I’m participating in a 6 week writing workshop (begins April 24th), plan to walk more regularly ( I like to log 4-5 miles per day, but have been a bit lazy lately), and even though I do eat rather healthily, I’m much too tempted to indulge myself when my son orders pizza. Although, in my defense, the pan pizza slices are typically much smaller than a regular pizza! One thing I don’t need to work on is my daily water consumption…I do well with drinking water throughout the day!

    I’m quite interested to see how you do with writing 90,000 words this month! That’s a HUGE goal, especially when coupled with the fact that you also have a day job.

    Sending you ositive thoughts 🙂 !!

    1. Thanks Karen, I’m sure I’ll need those positive thoughts. What sort of writing workshop are you doing? I’m also a culprit of not drinking enough water (and pizza is one of my biggest weaknesses).

  2. I’ve been in a flux of change since January, so mine will be the opposite, to slow down , taking a writing course and brushing up on a language. 🙂 Good luck! You can do it!

  3. I am doing the A to Z Blogging challenge for the second time. And once again it was a last minute decision so I will be playing catch up all month. My theme is “Mostly Made Up Holidays” because I felt like doing something silly. Here is the link to today’s post

    Good luck with your ambitious goals. FYI: When I quit drinking I found time in bars became quite tedious. But think of all the writing you can get done by staying home more often, though I am sure the girlfriend won’t like it!

  4. Good luck with 90000 words 🙂 I have a similar long word document with character notes, location notes, and scene notes! I find it fun to have so much material to use, even if some of it doesn’t get used.
    I’m sticking to 50000 words, the same as I did with NaNo in November. I just want to finish the story that I started then: So really my Camp NaNoWriMo goal is ‘50000 words, or however many it takes to finish my book!

    1. That’s awesome – there’s no better feeling than finally finishing the book you’ve been working on. Good luck with your 50,000 (or getting to the end :)).

      1. Nice – congrats!

        So far I’m a little ahead of my pace – was able to do 24,000 words last week, which I was super excited about. To be honest though it’s definitely been really draining; I hope I can keep it up for the next few weeks, too!

  5. I will join you on the writing challenge. As I am a student online, working towards a degree, single woman running a farm plus a part-time job, my writing goal will be smaller: 5 pages of my book written daily.

    1. That’s still a huge target – 150 pages after a month! It’ll feel great when you hit it. It does sound like you have a lot of other responsibilities; it’s impressive that you find the time to write, too. Good luck, and keep me updated on how everything is going!

  6. How are those 90,000 words coming? I entered my first NaNoWriMo last year–only got into the 20,000+ range–I had to start editing. My greatest challenge is stopping to edit.

    1. Me too! It’s always so tempting to stop and edit what you’ve already written, but so important to at least finish your first draft before you do so (at least for me). They’re coming really well! Only a day left in the challenge and I’m almost there. Thanks for stopping by!

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