I talk about challenges a lot. I do them regularly. I like how they're short, hard, and full of variety. You can experience something without doing it forever. They're easy to start because they don't last that long. My only problem is stacking them on top of one another. That doesn't work.This post is the last in my most recent challenge, 2 weeks of writing. A small mastermind I'm in decided that we all needed to publish more. What better way to focus on something daily than to do a challenge around it. 2 weeks of publishing daily. My plan was to post on numerous blogs but all of the posts ended up here. I learned a few things doing it.Capturing good sources (and having them ready to use for writing)Writing is great when everything is in your head and you just have to spit it all out onto the page. I've been practicing with doing that more. No interruptions, no research, no checking, no looking for things. Just writing. It can be tough to do. You need the details from other articles and other places to be able to write accurately and make sure you get all the parts of the idea in your article. These sources have to get found at some point. Probably before you write your article. I'm trying two different approaches with this, passive and active. I'm no pro but this what I've learned playing around with blogging challenges.The passive approach is to gather things as they come across your radar. When you see a link or read an article that could be useful in an article you can save it in Evernote or something similiar. The web clipper extension for Evernote is amazing for this. You can highlight passages right on the page and tag things later. I save them to a Clippings notebook and then file and tag them all at regular intervals. It gives me a second time to read through all the articles as well. This approach can work great for a group of articles that you read related material regularly or things for a personal blog. It could be hard to get enough material for specific articles but just sitting around and waiting for the right sources to float by.The active approach is to look for sources for an article you have already started. You start the article, then go look for sources that have good information, pulling out parts you can use or quote. It reminds me to writing research essays in school. Pick a topic. Research. Write. This is probably what method you should use if you need to write specific articles or just have a headline or topic to start with. If you need to research to write an article, that time has to be factored in. I always forget this fact and sit down to write, forgetting that another chunk of time needs to be devoted to research and only then I can write something slightly intelligible.Schedule writing ahead of timeRemembering you have to write and publish an article right before you go to bed sucks. Schedule in time to write your article at some point before that. Ideally it's in the morning when you are fresh but any time during the day works. I like getting it started in the morning and finishing it in the evening. The ideas percolate over the day.PicturesI used of header images for blog posts this blogging challenge. I used the ImageInject Wordpress plugin to quickly find a photo that worked. Some of them are pretty corny. I could have spent more time finding a nicer photo but it was quick and easy. ImageInject searches through Flickr and Pixabay. There are a bunch of image search plugins out there. 2 weeks of bloggingHere's the 2 weeks of blog posts!October 21: This post!October 20: Travelling Clears Your Habit Slate (actually posted on the 21st)October 19: Find Your CuratorsOctober 18: ChunkingOctober 17: Don't Let Your Life Get Stuck In Maintenance ModeOctober 16: Where Todo Lists FailOctober 15: Trello TipsOctober 14: Becoming AwareOctober 13: Being Strong to be Useful: Being Thankful for MovementOctober 12: Goals that actually work? Base Them on ActionOctober 11: Finding Flow: Just 4% HarderOctober 10: Abundance Over ScarcityOctober 9: Being Intentional is Difficult but Worth ItOctober 8: Coffee and Ideas Meet Again
A small mastermind-ish group I meet with regularly met again tonight and it reminded me so much of why coffee and ideas go so well together. Today was an extra good day for ideas for another reason. The conversation is semi-structured. We start with a structure anyways and see where it goes. I call them Bounce Sessions.Bounce SessionsBounce Sessions are meeting with others to bounce ideas around. You might start with prompts or questions for each person to answer like we do or just meet for coffee. The ideal bounce session has some bouncing of ideas followed by some work in it. I don't know about you but I get pretty excited throwing all those ideas around and having a good caffeine-fueled conversation about new technology and ideas that could make our lives and business better. Caffeine is not required but it certainly makes the ideas move faster. More exciting that way.Last 2, next 2 and stuckThe structured part of the conversations start with a round table on the last 2 things you completed for your current project (or business), the next 2 things you are going to complete for your current project and what you are stuck on. These are just quick prompts to get things moving and they often inspire hours of conversation. No one really knows where we are going to go from there. We meet every 2 weeks and so the next 2 should be done by the next meeting in 2 weeks. If you can do them the next day, awesome. But we're all working on businesses as side projects and it can take weeks to get small things going so it's a nice prompt with a good amount of time to do them in.CrossFit then Bounce = FlowStephen Kotler and the Flow Genome Project talks a lot about sports and human-powered activity fueling the Flow State, a state of being "in the zone". Anyone can feel it but it's that feeling of being "on" or so deep into what you are doing, that you don't notice time passing. There are certain requirements of activities that can put you into that state and one of them is that it's not too easy but it's not too hard.... just right. I find workouts at CrossFit get me thinking in a very very focused way, getting into a flow of sorts. The benefits of flow are too long to list but include happiness, relaxation, living longer and a boost in creativity afterwards. So going to CrossFit increases the Flow and then going to a Bounce Session with a little caffeine involved equals a whole lot of creativity and ideas. Rad.Free Learning on CreativeLiveChase Jarvis is a cool guy. He does a lot with cameras and he starts cool projects and businesses. He talks to a lot of cool people on his web show called Chase Jarvis Live and he owns a company called CreativeLive. The whole idea behind CreativeLive is free professional teaching.They run courses in their studio in Seattle and broadcast them live on their website as well as record them for later. The recordings after the fact aren't free, they are paid. So if you want to keep a recording, you have to pay. If you can watch it live, though, you get it for free. Free learning from some of the best teachers in the world. Cool.Are you in a Power PostureAfter talking about Kelly Starrett from MobilityWOD who taught a course on CreativeLive we got talking about posture (because Kelly has ridiculously good posture). That led to the TED talk about the research into power postures and how it influences your mood and thinking. They say that if you are in an open, powerful posture that it will influence your thinking and increase your confidence. If you are doing a presentation or an interview, best to hide in the bathroom for a few minutes and get into a power stance. You'll do better in your presentation.Check in with yourself in lineupsBrendan Burchard does a lot of teaching on being an expert and high performance in business and thinking. I love his material. One of his videos, he talks about how it's important to check in with yourself during the day. Important things like thoughts and breathing can make or break your day but often they're totally subconscious, we don't even think about them. When we do catch ourselves worrying about something or getting tense and breathing shallow, we could have been like that for hours. It's not good for our bodies or minds to be like that. Stop, reset, relax and then carry one. But how do you catch yourself?Create triggers.Create a set of triggers during the day that every time something happens, you'll stop and think about how you're thinking and feeling. How are you thinking? Positively? Negatively? About things that make you feel good? About things that make you feel terrible? How are you breathing? Nice deep breathes or ragged, shallow ones? How you are standing? Relaxed and tall with your shoulders back? Or shoulders folded, back rounded, defeated? So that's great that you do these things when you remember to but how do you remember to?Hook those actions onto something that happens often during your day. Brendan has attached his to standing in a lineup. Any time he's in a lineup in a coffee shop or at a grocery story or in traffic, he does a checkin with himself. How's your thinking? How's your breathing? How's your posture? Every time that lineup happens, he's checking in. He doesn't need to remember much, the lineup is going to remind him.Starting Blog ChallengeAfter all this and too much other conversation to even remember where we went, we decided we need to practice the idea of quantity leading to quality and do a 2 week blogging challenge. We all blog so what the heck, let's do it every day. The challenge: 200 words every day for 2 weeks on whatever blog you want. It has to be published. No drafts, no evernotes, no google docs. Published. Too many blog posts sit unpublished. Let's publish these things and get on with our lives.So here it is, this my first of the blogging challenge. Care to join? 2 weeks. Every day. Let's go.