100 Days of Writing Challenge: Done!

Referring to the old Persian adage: “This too shall pass” I have to say that my 100 Days of Writing Challenge came to its eventual conclusion after 100 long days and about 30000 written words. This challenge has been quite an adventure that took me to different places, made me think and write about all sort of things, made me a bit more disciplined when it comes to writing, made me get out of my comfort zone because writing in English doesn’t come easy for me since it’s not my first language and not even my second language, it’s my third language and I’ve learned it mostly by myself. I will probably continue writing daily or almost daily because it became a habit by now, they say it takes only about three to four weeks of repeating a behavior in order for it to become a habit, well after 100 days of repetition you are pretty much guaranteed to have gained a new habit.

100 Days of Writing Challenge
100 Days of Writing Challenge

I discovered that setting a challenge and being determined to do it (and doing it) can make you more disciplined, creative, confident, inspired. The fact that you make your challenge public is also important because it adds a boost of motivation to do it, research shows that goals made publicly are more likely to get done. Challenges can be fun a good way to achieve things, after completing my two active challenges, this one and the Running a Marathon in 100 Days Challenge, I realize that I want to do more of these things and I’m now working at another challenge that is not public yet and it’s quite epic, the time constraint for this one being one year.

The things that I’ve learned after 100 days of writing are pretty much the same as the things that I’ve learned after 50 days of writing, check out my blog post on that.

This is not an end, it’s only a beginning.

 

100 Days to Run a Marathon Challenge: Done!

So I finally managed to do a marathon. About three weeks earlier before the deadline, 26 of June. The summer is here and it’s getting hotter and hotter, hence my decision to do it as soon as possible to avoid the summer heat. It was an interesting road to this point, back in March when I started day 1 of this challenge and did my first run it was cold, there was ice and snow outside, the next day the snow started melting, there were puddles everywhere but I went for a run anyway, needles to say, I soaked my running shoes and my socks with water. Since then I’ve run through cold, snow, ice, puddles of water, mud, rain and heat. And it seems like this journey took me through all the seasons and through more time than some seventy-something days.

100 Days to Run a Marathon Challenge
100 Days to Run a Marathon Challenge

My first marathon was hard, no doubt about it, when I started to train for it I had some legitimate doubts that I can finish it. More about my limitations in one of the posts that I’ve written. The last third bit of the marathon was the hardest because by then I developed blisters at both of my feet and they got increasingly painful. Hence, I had to walk most of the last twelve kilometers. My socks got soaking wet from all the perspiration and this in turn made my feet start to move against the shoes and all that friction caused some painful blisters on the soles of my feet.

The time? A little bit more than six hours. I estimated that it would take me about 5-6 hours to do it. If I hadn’t developed the blisters than I would have had a better time but time wasn’t really a preoccupation for me, the important thing was to finish the marathon.

The weather today was quite good, it was cloudy, this kept the temperature down, a few sporadic droplets of rain came down, around 11 AM the clouds began to scatter and this led to some increase in temperature, but all in all it was a pretty good day for running today.

Other related posts:

The 100 Days to Run a Marathon Challenge

Day 50 of the 100 Days to Run a Marathon Challenge

Day 50 of the 100 Days to Run a Marathon Challenge

It’s day 50 of my 100 Days to Run a Marathon Challenge and the first thing that I can say about this challenge is that I’m a bit behind schedule. As mentioned in my first post, The 100 Days to Run a Marathon Challenge, I don’t really have a schedule or a plan on how I will achieve this objective, my only plan is to incrementally run longer distances, so around day 50 I should be running 21 kilometers in one running session.

100 Days to Run a Marathon
Image source: Wikimedia

Am I running 21 kilometers in a running session these days? Not really, yesterday I’ve come close to running a semi-marathon, I did about 19 kilometers of running and hiking. The explanation for the hiking part is this: a part of my running itinerary took me up a forested hill, which is ideal for hiking,  I haven’t done any hiking in quite a while and the peacefulness of the forest, the coolness and the better quality of the air, the absence of buildings, cars and people made me want to linger around more.

My plan for the next runs is this one: Tuesdays – a slow, 10K run, Thursdays – a faster, 4-5K run which might include stairs running, Sundays – a slow, 21K run. This is a change from my original plan of incrementally running longer distances and is partially inspired by the “usual” plans of training for a marathon. I will do this for the next 3-4 weeks, increasing the distances a bit after each week with 2 or 2,5 kilometers.

The “deadline” for this challenge is 26 of June but I want to accomplish it earlier because around that date we will be almost one month into summer and the temperatures will be high. I don’t know how it is for others but for me, high temperatures mean a drop of 10 to 30 percent in my energy levels, performance, motivation, everything. So, ideally for me would be to end this challenge in the next 4-5 weeks top, even if that means that I will have to make a jump from running 20K+ to a marathon.

My Experience as a First Time Author

Writing a book was a long standing item in my bucket-list. I had some attempts at writing a book across the years but in the end they only materialized in a low number of pages and words, I couldn’t even write enough material for a chapter. Add to this the fact that English is not my first language and it’s not even my second language either. You see, I was stubbornly trying to write a book in English even though my knowledge of it wasn’t that great, I had some deficiencies and wasn’t confident enough in my language and writing skills. In school, we had to learn French, that was the Romanian education system back then, it made us learn French just to show off how much of a Francophone country Romania is. Let’s be honest, French is pretty much useless to learn and Latin, because we had to learn it as well, is even more useless, there weren’t many situations in which my knowledge of French helped, on the other hand, Latin helped me very much when I needed…no, I’m joking, Roman numerals and some quotes where the only Latin that I ever used.

Why is writing a book a goal worthy to be in everyone’s bucket-list? My opinion is that everybody should write a book, or at least, to try to write one at some point in their life. Everybody has a story to tell. You live, you have a story to tell, you travel, you have a story to tell, you experience something, you have a story to tell. A book is something that you leave behind, it’s a part of you and has your stories. We learn from each other and we learn from each other’s stories. No matter how the world will change, storytelling will never disappear. Books, movies, songs, paintings, they all tell a story. Even if nobody reads your books, you are the only one that writes and reads it, you still gain something, for me the experience of writing is quite therapeutic and magical, writing things down has the power of clearing your mind, every time I write something is like a small weight is lifted off my shoulders, I feel better afterwards. I’m now on a 100 Days Of Writing Challenge, it’s day 53, and I might not always be enthusiastic or have the energy and will to write a blog post but one thing is certain: I always feel better after writing.  Ralph Waldo Emerson said that life is a journey, not a destination. This is also true for writing because writing is a journey, not a destination.

How did I do it? I was sitting on top of a hill overseeing the beautiful city of San Sebastian, the sea, the beaches, other smaller hills, it was quite a thrilling view. I was in the country for less than 24 hours and haven’t slept in almost a day, I was tired from carrying a backpack for a lot of those past 24 hours yet I found enough energy and will to take my little notepad and to start writing down what happened to me since I landed in Madrid at midnight. I wrote almost daily for the next 37 days for about 1-2 hours a day and at the end I had enough material for a book. I didn’t had the goal of writing a book at the start of my journey but the more things happened to me and the more I wrote about them, the more I realized that my experience and notes can be transformed into a book.

A Story on the Camino

Book link: A Story on the Camino

Writing the book itself. I had to transcribe my notes and put them in a digital format, I had some notes on my phone but they represented only a (very) small fraction of the total content. I filled the small notepad that I brought with me and almost completely filled another, bigger notepad that I bought in Spain. All in all, the process of transcribing, editing, adding information, proofreading and making corrections took me about as much as writing my notes. It’s true when they say that writing the first draft of a book means that your work is only halfway done.

What next? The process of writing a book seems daunting when you haven’t done it yet and when you are writing in a foreign language and it still seems daunting even though I wrote and published my first book. I discovered that I enjoy writing in general and writing books in particular, I also love to read books and I think that reading and writing go hand in hand so my plan is to not stop at a single book. I intend to continue writing, I already started doing some work at a nonfiction book and will see how it goes.

Halfway There. Day 50 of the 100 Days of Writing Challenge

My challenge of writing for 100 Days has been quite a ride so far, I wrote 50 posts and about 20000 words, covered various subjects like book reviews, startups, business, self-improvement, history, neuroscience, cryptography, reading lists and haikus.

Word Count plugin, 100 Days of Writing Challenge

I’ve written most of those 20000 words in March, I have quite a lot of posts about 900+ and 1000+ words long. In April however, I started slowing down but I kept going, I “cheated” a bit by creating short cryptography challenges, reading lists with my favorite books and three lines long haikus.  I slowed a bit with writing on my blog because I’m quite busy lately and I’m also questioning if it’s worth writing long, interesting, value adding and time-consuming blog posts because almost nobody reads them.

I hope that you like haikus because long posts or not, I’m determined to finish this challenge even if that means writing most of the next 50 posts as haikus.

I’ve started doing series lately in order to bring more structure and order to my posts; my first posts where about all kinds of subjects, I didn’t do much planning and I din’t knew about what I will write until a few minutes before starting.

The first series that I started doing is about decision making:

How Much Analysis of Outcomes is too Much Analysis?

How Much Analysis of Outcomes is too Much Analysis? Part 2

Rational Inattention

I continued with a series with cryptographic challenges. These little cryptography challenge where fun to make and didn’t took much time to do them, one hour at most, compared to one to three hours for a lengthier post.

Decrypt This Post, Difficulty Level: Easy

Cryptographic Fun With Emojis

Cryptographic Fun No. 3: Deus Vult!

Islands, Pirates and Treasures: Cryptographic Challenge No. 4

The Pharaoh Sails to Orion: Cryptographic Challenge No. 5

Four Brain Cells Cryptography: Les Shadoks

Atomic Cryptography

 

Continued with reading lists:

My Top Fiction Books – Reading List

My Top Books on Startups – Reading List

My Top History Books – Reading List

My Top Marketing Books – Reading List

My Top Mind & Neuroscience Books – Reading List

My Top Business Books – Reading List

My Top Biography & Autobiography Books – Reading List

My Top Psychology Books – Reading List

And then haikus:

Ask the Wind, Ask the Dust – Haiku

Morning Run – Haiku

The Gun Kata – Haiku

Artificial Intelligence – Haiku

La Vie en Rose – Haiku

A Neighborhood Walk in the Spring – Haiku

The Mind – Haiku

#DeleteFacebook – Haiku

Three things that I learned so far:

  1. Somewhere around day 20 I started worrying about running out of subjects to write about. Well, the number of subjects that you can write about is virtually infinite, your only limitation is your imagination and your creativity.
  2. One thing that I do in order to remember about what I want to write is to create a draft post, an empty draft post with nothing in it but the title. At some point I had about 20 or more of such drafts, I still have a lot of drafts waiting to be transformed into full fledged posts.
  3. It’s important to start; this step can also be the hardest. Even if you feel like writing or not, muster enough will to write a title and a paragraph. Most of the time you won’t stop there and continue writing until you finish the post.