Two steps across the finish line and I’m already halfway to my bed for a nap – that’s how I feel after last month’s challenge. Across April I managed to write more words in a single month than ever before, eat healthy, quit drinking, and be an all around better person (just kidding I’m still a jerk).
If you’re late to the party (then you’re lazy), follow these links to find the intro post, part I, part II, and part III. Or just read on and pretend you’re picking up Game of Thrones in the middle of Season 6 (lol good luck).
Instead of giving everyone a live-tweet style recap of the week, I’m going to be a respectable and mature person and tell you what I’ve learned across the past month. It’s called self-reflection – look it up.
Before that, though, here are the final stats:
Words written during the final 10 days of April: 34,185
Total words written in April: 97,225
So, what have I learned? AKA: What have I learned that anyone else would give a s*** about? Anything? Maybe. I guess we’ll find out. Here we go.
What I learned in April:
- Taking on a big challenge is great, and worthwhile, but make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. I took on this challenge because I wanted to push myself. I also took it on because I was so excited about this story idea that I couldn’t wait to finish it. There were numerous times throughout the month where I was close to cutting a day short, or letting a week go by without catching up on my wordcount, but the thought of not finishing the book kept me going. It was only the deeper, truly valuable reason that helped me over the bigger hurdles. So make sure you really believe in your reasons for doing something; write them down and put them somewhere visible so you’re constantly reminded.
- Numbers are cool, but true progress is cooler. I couldn’t be happier to have hit over 97,000 words in a single month. Even better? I’m 3/4 of the way done with the book.
- Pushing yourself past what you’re comfortable with, even if you know it will only be for a finite amount of time, or you know it means some of what you create will be crap, is always worth it. Pushing yourself will teach you things you would never have learned otherwise. Always take on challenges.
- The book I’m currently finishing is exciting beyond words (paradox? maybe), but it’s also extremely difficult to write. If it isn’t hard, you aren’t trying hard enough, or you haven’t added enough complexity, or taken on a difficult enough topic. Building a believable story (conveying human emotion and growth, keeping readers interested, working to answer really tough questions through your story, etc.) is hard.
- If you’re doing something that’s important to you, tell other people about it. They’ll make time for you to do the things you need to do. Sometimes they’ll go out of their way to help. If you don’t tell them about it you’ll either have to avoid them completely or they will become an obstacle for you to get around (i.e. “C’mon man, just stay out tonight and drink with us. What could you possibly have planned that’s better than this?”)
- Standing desk. Enough said.
- You can do more than you think you can. If you’re only doing X amount of work per day because you think that’s all you can do, chances are high that you’re giving in to laziness (although we all have the right to be lazy sometimes). Yes, an extra 45 minutes per day, every day, makes a big difference – it could be what sets those who end up succeeding and making their dreams come true apart from the rest.
This past month has been fun, hard, frustrating, cool, empowering, and a whole host of other things. I’ve learned a lot, from actual writing techniques to certain things about myself. Moving forward I’m going to be writing fewer words per day than I did during April, but I’ll be doing way more than I did before I took on the challenge. Even if that was my only takeaway I would be grateful for it.
To everyone who has liked these posts or commented: Thank you so much for coming along for the ride. I hope you had a fantastic, creative, and productive April as well.
Any ideas for a May/June/July challenge? I was thinking something along the lines of an extreme ‘Write in Weird Places’ month: write in a weird place at least every other day, no repeats. What do you think? Any other suggestions?