13-Day Writing Challenge + Badwater 2018

I have been somewhat studiously following Badwater 2018 via social media and their GPS tracking system. As I write this, the last runner from the 2300 start is about five miles from the finish line, which will bring this year’s race to a close. I have never followed an ultra marathon before, and I have to say, it’s more exciting than you might think, at least if you have been following any of the runners prior to the race. Unfortunately, my personal favorite DNF’d due to either food poisoning or a wicked stomach bug contracted the day before the race. It was still a fun thing to “watch.”

Badwater is not the subject of today’s post however, regardless of how weirdly exhilarating I find long-distance running. Nope, today’s post is a short one, and it is about writing. I have a challenge for everyone – a bit of a writing half-marathon, if you will. A half marathon is 13.1 miles, so I am challenging all readers to do 13 days of writing. But to what end?

I was talking to a friend of mine today. We are both on perpetual quests to hustle and make ourselves better, and we bounce ideas off of each other quite a lot. We also share a love of writing in common. He was telling me how he had been writing the night before and thinking about where his life might be in five years. He had a rather clear image, not because it was exactly what he wanted per se, but because it was what came to his mind. He explained it to me with quite a lot of detail.

Sometimes inspiration evades us, however. And that’s okay, actually. Sometimes consistency is preferable. I would say more often than not, that is the case. Inspiration is a fleeting, unpredictable thing, and while certainly useful, it is not dependable. Consistently doing something is far more helpful.

I have had some success in the past with writing down what I want once a day. I try to do it by hand. I think the muscle memory helps imprint it into your brain, but also, I really enjoy writing with fountain pens, which I typically use to write by hand. Something about it is more enjoyable.

I am not going to take it as far as my friend did. I’m just going to take a small goal that I would like to accomplish in the next month or so, and I will focus on that. There is definitely a lot to be said for having one’s overarching goal pictured, but for most of us, our end goal is far, far away from where we are right now, and it is often terribly overwhelming and even demoralizing to think about how far away we are from it. That is why we have to set smaller goals that take us in the right direction.

Jocko Willink illustrated this point rather well in his book, I believe it was. He talked about the Navy SEAL training boat races. The boat races, by all accounts, are quite an ordeal. They are cold, wet, long, strenuous, and emotionally taxing, as well. He made the point that, if you think about how many races you have left, it gets too be too much. Instead, you think about getting to the next signpost, and then once you’ve reached that one, you get to the one after that, and you keep doing that over and over again until the thing is done. That’s pretty much how it is with everything.

That is my challenge. Pick your signpost, and for the next 13 days, write about getting to it. I recommend just condensing it into one sentence and then writing it down 10-15 times a day. It’s not a long time commitment – maybe five minutes or so – every day. It is definitely doable, in any case.

Try it. See if it works. I recommend doing it until you reach that signpost of course, but start with 13 days. I have two little signposts that I want to hit, so I need to decide which one is more important right now. It’s possible that they are not mutually exclusive. Perhaps I will do them together. I am going to sleep on it and start tomorrow. It’s possible that it won’t get done in 13 days, but I would be willing to get at least five bucks that you will see some movement in that direction within that 13-day time period.

On that note, I am off to bed, hopefully to dream of a more arid climate with no grass to mow – I mowed tonight, and grass just makes me miserable anymore – and mountains in my backyard. Or Marc Roberge confessing his love to me in the middle of an OAR concert. Because that also happened in a dream like, three days ago. It was nice.

Stay thirsty, kids!