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
This post is part of the rockThink Book Review Series where I review books that help make you better at what you do. This book was about writing.[Update] This book has been rolled up into Jeff's new book, You Are a Writer. He's expanded on the ideas in Every Writer's Dreams and gone more in depth. I'll be reviewing that soon.Who is book this for? New writer's wondering where to start.What is the dream when you start writing? To spend most of your time finding people to read your writing? To have to promote yourself all the time and feel like a used car salesman? Ugh, I hope not. I like writing because of the writing part, not all the other crap that comes along with making money from your writing.So the dream is just to write. Wouldn't that be nice. All you'd have to do is write. Exactly what you'd want to do. A pipe dream right?Not so, says Jeff. We can do better than that. There's a different process to attaining that dream than how most people go about it though. Don't grovel, beg and hope someone does something with your writing. Follow his steps and you'll find yourself spending your time where you want to, writing more.Stop Being ScaredThe first point Jeff makes and one that is all throughout is writing gets to the core of doing anything meaningful and actually finishing it. You can't do anything if you're scared. You can't do anything if you're always doubting yourself and holding yourself back from doing what you need to do. Stop being scared and start being curious. Do what you need to do.I get stuck with this one all the time. I feel like I'm not an authority like I should be to talk about what I learned on rcThink or how to do something outdoors on PureOutside. In reality, if I just did something then I know how to do it. It may not be the absolute best way but it worked. What's wrong with telling people about what you did that worked? Rather than second guess everything I'm doing assuming it's not good enough, I need to get curious and do whatever I have to do to achieve my goals. That's the only way to the finish.Your HomeOnce you've stop being scared and started being curious we're into the next stage of building your home in the world. Jeff stresses the importance of having a home (probably online) where people can find you. How do people interested in your writing find you if you don't have a home? Where should they go? There needs to be an easy place to find you. If it's too hard, they'll give up and you may not ever see them. Jeff calls this a platform. There are some other key points about a platform that he covers in Every Writer's Dream. Your VoiceYour brand. Your voice. You. It's what you say and how you say it. It's why people like you and why they'll read what you write.The problem is that people will give you a brand if you don't create one for yourself. You can accept the haphazard brand that people give you or you can create one yourself. In pretty much every case a brand that you've carefully put together and designed to be you in the best way is going to be a million times (scientifically measured) better the slop the internet will give you.Jeff stresses one important fact with your brand: Don't lie. It might be exciting to try and live a lie at first but you'll get bored of it. And you'll be stuck with it. When it's you, it's you. There's no lying to your fans when what you give them is pure you.Your RelationshipsIs content king? It's pretty important. What about relationships? Jeff says relationships are even more important than content. You can have the best content in the world but if you have no relationships with readers, editors, and publishers, it's not going anywhere. Relationships smooth the way for important things to happen. If you have them, everything is easier.Every time I need help with something, I think, "Who do I know?" If I know someone who can help, my life is just made easier. If I get stuck and I don't know anyone who can help then I've got more work to do. Things go faster and farther when you've got a relationship in place.In Every Writer's Dream, Jeff points out three important relationships that you'll need to find along your writing journey. Each has it's place and will make your life much easier. You'll have to read the book to find out about those.Too Vague?One issue I had with Every Writer's Dream was it felt a little vague, not so detail oriented. But that's probably how Jeff wanted it. You could write for decades on the exact details of getting things published in the easiest way possible but what good is that. If you're writing for decades and not shipping, no one is seeing your work. There's certainly enough information there to get started and that's what it's for, to get you started on the path towards every writer's dream. Everyone's path is going to be different so I suppose this is a good framework and not an exact detailed tutorial.Blunt is GoodJeff doesn't hide it. Writing is hard work. It can take a long time to get where you want to go. He tells you straight up that it's not going to be easy. I call this expectation management and he does a good job of it. He's making sure that his readers are aware that writing a book is going to be a long process but if you know that ahead of time, you'll be much better off when the going gets rough. Better to find out now than years in.Jeff's Advice for Continual ImprovementAt the end of the book I was wondering what Jeff would say if I asked him how he continues to improve his writing and how he knows he's improving. I asked him and here's what he had to say.
[Update] This book is no longer available and has been rolled up into Jeff's new book called You Are a Writer. I'm working my way through that one now.I just recently finished off the small eBook from Jeff Goins, Before Your First Book. It was a quick read but offered some fantastic advice. I'm toying with the idea of writing a book but I know I need to do a lot more work on my ideas and writing. I still need to convince myself that it would be worth it since it takes so long. I'm working on it.I like Jeff's style. There's no bullshit. He's straight to the point with what you should expect when you're getting things ready to write a book. The interesting thing about Before Your First Book is that it isn't about writing your book at all. It's entirely about what you need to do to start writing and shipping now. There are important steps you need to take that will be invaluable later. Instead of being a terrible arduous task, book writing can be an enjoyable fulfilling process. That's what Jeff's here to explain.Before Your First Book is short and sweet. Each point Jeff makes is important though so you'll probably be going back to it multiple times to re-examine the main points. Because the length, I found it an easy read. He kept things moving along smoothly, never dawdling, always getting right to the point.ShippingOne of the most important themes in the Before Your First Book is that you have to start shipping. You have to start doing something today to help you get that book and your ideas into your readers hands months or years down the road. The nice part about the book is that Jeff is laying it out for your. He's done the work, he's walked the path. Now he's telling you how. He's leaving plenty up to you to decide exactly how to do it but he gives a framework and that's a huge first step in the right direction. One of the worst feelings working on a big project is the question of whether you're going in the right direction. Is all that work moving you towards your goal or will you learn that you just wasted 6 months of your time? Start shipping small things now and you'll find out much sooner where you are headed.No BraggingSo many people brag about their accomplishments. Instantly I turn off. I stop listening. I get my back up and can't stop thinking about the fact that they're bragging. Even if they do have good points hidden somewhere in their selfish rant I will miss them. I hope everyone continues reading past that last sentence to read this next one. Jeff lets you know what he's accomplished not to brag but for it to act like a resume. He's letting you know what he's done, that he's just recently, like fresh out of the fire, gone through the process he's describing and he's writing it for us to know. I found that reassuring that he gently describes what he want through and then gives you the dirt on what he wish he was told before.No LiesAlong with shipping now and often, Jeff hammer's on another point repeatedly. Writing a book and the process leading up to it is a crazy amount of work. The thing is, thought, that while it requires an incredible amount of work, it's not complicated. It's not like calculus or binary programming kind of complicated. When it comes down to it there are a few basic things you need to know and then it's all repetition after that. Running a marathon not complicated but it's definitely hard. That's like writing a book. Make sure you're cool with that before you get started.I enjoyed reading through Before Your First Book. It had a few good ideas that I will be applying to other non-book projects. The short format left me wanting a little bit more at the end in terms of details but most of those details can be found around the internet. The framework (and the kick in the ass to get shipping) is the important part, and that's what Jeff cover's in this nice little book.
The first every Spark Challenge is done. I spent October writing every day. Well, make that trying to write every day.Every day was a battle of time. What do I spend my time on? I could spend 2 or 3 hours of time on whatever I wanted before I left for work and after I came home. In between cooking, cleaning and hanging out with my girlfriend there was some time that I was free to do what I like. That's when the priority battle started. What should I work on? Should I be configuring the new section for PureOutside? Should I be writing more guides to sell there? Should I be writing on rcThink trying to expand my horizons and conquer fears? Should I be reading about what other people are trying to do and chatting with them about it?Even with a full-time job, I still find the time to do the things I love to do. The only problem is that the full-time job takes so many of my waking hours that I'm left with only a few for the awesome stuff.With that said, I think I did pretty well. I wrote 22 or 23 days of October. That's more than I've ever written in my life. Some of what I wrote got published. Some of it didn't. My rules for the challenge was that it had to be at least journalling. I spent the majority of it working on articles for PureOutside, which worked out well. That site is a priority for me and I also get to work on the challenge. I'm finding more and more these days, that I need to work on things that accomplish a few goals, not just one. Something that I write that can be used for multiple things, or I'm working on a mental goal and a physical one at the same time. Adventuring is always like that for me. Exploring outside is a great workout, I get some time away from work and machinery to relax and think, and it's great material for photography and writing guides. There are many beneficial byproducts from adventuring. That's my case for needing to do it and I'm stickin' with it.I'm proud of the fact that I wrote most days in October but I still think I could do better. To be honest, some of the days I forgot that I was doing a writing challenge. I was quite busy for a couple of the weeks travelling, with sports and other commitments that by the time I got home, writing wouldn't even enter my mind. When I remembered, though, I was all over it, totally immersed in Wordpress or Evernote on my laptop and typing away like mad. That leads to a couple of things I learned from the first Spark Challenge.Teh Learnings1. It gets easierThe Resistance was telling me writing every day was going to be like pulling teeth every single day. It was going to be like wringing a dry towel to get more water from it. It was going to be terrible. It wasn't like that at all.Every day I wrote more and more and while I was focused on writing because I was doing a challenge for the first couple days, I would flow into just writing to write after doing it for a few days straight. Doing it every single day and creating a routine is a huge part of being able to do it all the time. I couldn't get the same time every day to write but if I could wake up and remind myself I had to write at some point that day, it would usually get done. Days that I forgot to remind myself or were just to crazy to get an extra relaxed thought in edgewise were the ones where I dropped the ball and forgot about it. I can't think of a single day where I remembered but intentionally did not write. My mind was just elsewhere sometimes.2. You have to make timeThese new challenges I'm doing are things I don't do normally. There would be no point to making a challenge for going to work every day. I already do that (minus weekends). They are things that are tough to do every day because I already have commitments pulling me in every direction and other projects on the go that are splitting my time even thinner.I started just adding to do list items to my lists for writing but that wasn't working. It was hard to relate a to do list to the actual amount of time I had. The to do list didn't display things as a schedule or calendar. Oh wait, I have one of those. It's called a calendar and I use it for other things. I ended up sitting down with my to do list and my calendar on as many days as I could, at least once a week, and scheduling out some writing time. Surprising things happen when you look at tasks scheduled on a calendar.I always thought I had tons of time during the day to do extra things. I would give myself 10 tasks to do each day but wonder why I wasn't getting anything done. I had lots of time right? Wrong. I didn't have a lot of time. After putting all the little random tasks around the house and my full-time job, that left me with minimal amount of time to spend writing. What did I typically do with half that precious free time? I'd lolligag around on email, Facebook and all sorts of blogs. By the time I got around to writing, my time was up and I needed to move on to other things.If I was going to write then it was going to happen first. I had to schedule time to work on things and when that time came around I would sit down and write, nothing else. I wouldn't "warm up" by checking email or reading blogs because they just turned into time sucks. They're required yes but they can happen in little slivers of time I have here and there. Writing deserves a nice big uninterrupted chunk of time. Once I gave that time the respect it deserved, wonderful things happened. I got so much more done, and even though there was tons of email and Facebook messages around I felt much better about what I had accomplished.3. Nothing is perfect the first timeI get stuck in a rut sometimes with my writing. I start thinking more and more about what other people think about it and me, the writer. I worry about what other people are writing, how they're doing it and why it sounds so much better than what I write. As it is it every creative endeavor and really anything you start doing in life, I had to get over the fact that I'm not a top-notch writer yet. I like to think it makes sense and is relatively interesting to read but it's not quite a literary classic. I'm coming to grips with the fact that I'll never be writing classics. I just like too many things to spend the time to learn to write that way. If I wanted, I could devote all my time to becoming an amazing writer but then I wouldn't have as much time to adventure, take photos and experiment with new things I haven't even tried yet. That fact still stresses me out a little but I'm getting closer to fully accepting it. A question for you: Do you specialize or go shallow into meany different endeavors? Which is better?4. One at a time is bestAt least to start. Leo Babauta from Zen Habits has been pushing this idea for as long as he's written. One thing at a time. As soon as you introduce more stuff to the mix, things get diluted, forgotten, pushed back, lost. If you want to learn something, and learn it well, you have to focus on it. I feel like having at least an hour a day to do something could get you some traction in it. More would obviously be better. You don't want to burn yourself out right away but the more you can pick up in a short time span the more you'll recall later on. I remember learning to snowboard and only going to the hill once or twice a year. It took forever to get to a certain level. When I finally took a family trip to another ski hill and boarded for 4 days straight, I improved much faster than I had riding so sporadically. It was exactly the same thing learning wakeboarding, skiing, ultimate frisbee and sailing. The more time you can spend in it when you're first learning the better.There seems to be a critical point you get to along your path that you're no longer a newbie. You've got things figured out, you're no longer one of those brand new people trying to figure out what's going on. You certainly don't know everything there is to to know but you know enough to get you started and you know about what you don't know. Realizing there is a lot you don't know goes a long way to keeping you humble and hungry for more. No one wants to spend a huge amount of time learning something only to realize that's all there is, the learning is over.5. Let the squirrel do itI read an awesome article recently about writing or really doing anything in general. I can't for the life of me remember where it was though. They were talking about letting your squirrel brain do the writing. Often when you've learned what you need to know and you've thought about it enough, you can just let go and let your subconscious or squirrel-brain do the work. At this point it's less about conscious thought and just about letting go and allowing your brain to do it's work. You don't have to force it. If you've done your prep, research, thinking, interviewing and checking, it's all there there already. Just let it flow.I'm sure there were a bunch more insights that I had writing for a month but my brain's already turned to the next Spark Challenge.A month of meditationI've been hearing more and more about meditation as a daily practice for creatives. Brian Johnson from Philosopher's Notes talks about it a lot and Jonathon Fields mentioned it in Uncertainty as an anchor to clear thinking in the seas of crazy life. I made up that terrible metaphor, don't think Jonathon would write something like that. In his book, Jonathon talked about it as a great way to relax, clear your mind, organize your thoughts, and allow your brain to do some heavy, creative thinking all at the same time.I've always seen meditation as some weird fluffy thing that guys on mountain tops do because they have nothing else to do with their time but the more I read, the more it sounds like something that would benefit my life in many ways.I've started with the free sample Blissitation from Brian Johnson. It's 15 minutes long which I think is a perfect time to start off at. I know some start at 5 minutes but I found 15 minutes very easy to do. I'm almost falling asleep after that amount of time though, which I'm not sure is supposed to be happening. Along with the practice of meditating every day, I'll be looking into exactly how it works and the different types. In a couple weeks I should have another post up about what I've learned and how I'm doing with the challenge.Post YoursI hear about challenges going on all over the place and I'd love to hear about them. What are your rules? Is it 30 days long? What have you tried and what are you going to try next?I'll be tweeting every day about how things are going with the hash tags #sparkmonth #day1. If you're doing any monthly challenges, I'd love to see your tweets too.
2010 was a great year. I learned a lot. A lot went well.That said, I felt like I didn't have much direction. It was fun trying to get involved with everything that came along but in doing that I was stretching myself thin over what I was already doing. Overall the year felt like I was bouncing back and forth from starting one project to another but not finishing anything. Thus, I've decided to dub last year Year of the Flail.Flailing around last year definitely kept things interesting. But as I said, I felt like I didn't complete much. This year is going to be different though. After doing a bit of a Chris Guillebeau style review, I looked at what went well last year and laid out a plan for this year. One of my goals is to keep my projects and to-do's more structured and really push to get rid of the tasks and projects that don't get me closer to my major goals.Almost everything I'd like to focus on this year will have a project associated with it. I think I'm more likely to complete things if they've got a nice, neat "project" label on them and are prioritized and organized with all the others. I won't get down into the nitty, gritty parts of life though, like cooking, cleaning and sleeping. Everyone does those!I've separated everything here into some main categories. I ended up with quite a few other ones as well during the review but they aren't quite as interesting as these ones. They felt required. These are the ones I'm excited about and will try my hardest to get them done. The categories I included here are Work, Learning, Travel, Outdoors and Adventure. Outdoors and Adventure overlap quite a bit. Outdoors here is more for the projects about the outdoors I'm doing whereas Adventure includes running, riding, kayaking, racing and other sports.Projects for the Year of the HustleWorkWriting for PureOutside, rcThink and Island AdventurerI put these ones under work because I hope that these will some day make up the bulk of my workload. It will be an amazing day when I make a living of these sites and related projects. There was really no schedule for posting to the sites last year. Posts would just go up on the site whenever I felt like writing and that was sometimes 3 times a week and sometimes once every 2 months. This year my goal is to post once per week every Monday morning on each of the sites. So far so good. It's only been 3 weeks but I haven't fallen off the wagon yet! I'm working on building up a repository of posts for each of the sites so that if I run out of time, I can just edit and update a post, rather than writing a whole new one.If you aren't familiar with my other blogs yet, I'll give you a quick rundown. PureOutside is a general outdoors site covering any outdoor topic like climbing, running, skiing, hiking and mountain biking. I've got a few projects scheduled to start this year that will be added on to this site. More details are below.Island Adventurer is another outdoor site focusing on Vancouver Island, where I live. Vancouver Island is a mecca for human-powered outdoor enthusiasts offering easy access to skiing, surfing, trail running, mountain biking, kiteboarding, climbing and diving. You can easily participate in all these activities any time of the year or even all in one day. Information for all these activities can be hard to come by, though, and is often only found after endless digging through websites or good-natured stalking of those that regularly participate. I'm hoping with Island Adventurer and PureOutside I can make it easier to organize and find all that outdoor information.Programming Home Sell Canada and Bed and Breakfast CenterOriginally started by my dad as side projects, I've taken over most of the support and programming on HomeSellCanada and BedandBreakfastCenter. Both are excellent opportunities to increase my passive income and learn some useful new information. I'm in the middle of an upgrade to the underlying systems right now and as soon as that is complete, I'll be working on the graphics and copy. They're both a bit dated and need a refreshing dose of new copy and design. On the list for them both are blogs to liven things up and provide a good reason to link to both the sites.Day Job at City of NanaimoI'm hoping to end up with some sort of location-independent career someday but while I'm getting started, I'm very thankful for the programming position I have at the City of Nanaimo. Every day I'm learning something new and get to work with a lot of great people in an enterprise environment. I know few people ever say they like working in a cubicle but, while I would rather be outside skiing or climbing mountains, it's been an awesome experience so far.LearningThe world is so amazing that it's tough to not write an entire book on all the things I'd like to learn. One of my goals for the year is to focus more fewer things but there are two that I'm going to focus on most.PhotographyA lot of my friends have been getting into photography lately and judging by all the amazing pictures on travel blogs, people online have as well. I used to travel, adventure and party with just a small point and shoot style camera. While it's a lot of fun to carry around in my pocket and have at the drop of a hat, the pictures that it produces just aren't fantastic. They will certainly do in a pinch and capture the moment but after seeing some incredible things in Australia and New Zealand, I was disappointed with the quality when I wanted to revisit those memories. The little camera just didn't do the landscapes justice, especially on our trip to Milford Sound. Now, I've got myself a Canon T1i and am trying to use it every day. A friend told me that the first 10,000 photos aren't going to be anything special. After that you might get some good ones so I've got a lot of photos to take.GuitarFor the longest time, I've wanted to play guitar. There's just something about it that I find so alluring. I find myself wishing I knew how to play when I'm sitting around a campire or on the road travelling. I just haven't got up the guts to get playing and sound like crap when I'm learning. What's worse is that I've had one sitting next to my desk for the last year and a half. I finally got some ebooks and a dvd for christmas and have been making time to sit down and learn the chords and a few songs. Watch out for a video of a song when I can get something together. It wont' be that bad, I promise!TravelFranceThe first trip of the year will be to France. My girlfriend and I are going to spend 2 weeks in France in May, with some of the trip in Paris and the remainder in the south along the Mediterranean. This will be my first trip to Europe and my girlfriends first off North America. I have these romantic visions of wandering around in Paris. I know it's probably not going to be anything like I think it's going to be but it's still going to be a great adventure nonetheless.PortlandThis won't be a very long trip but it's still a trip out of the country. We'll be heading down to Chris Guilleau's World Domination Summit for a few days in June to hang out with a whole bunch of bloggers and online entrepreneurs. Pretty sure I'm bouncing around excited for this to happen. I've been reading a lot of the bloggers that are going for the last year and it's time to finally meet them. This has been part of the reason why I'm going to be pushing my blogs hard the beginning of this year. Not only would it be nice to get a bit more traffic to all of them, I'd like to be a bit better known in the blogging circles.ThailandThis is a maybe trip. I'm going to try my hardest to make this happen by the end of the year but it might have to be the beginning of next year. I've been dying to go to Thailand for a long time and I finally said I'm going to do it. With all the other bloggers in Thailand right now, it will be a hell of a party and a great time meeting them face to face. I'm aiming for November with this one.OutdoorsRamblerI mentioned earlier that I've found it hard getting the information I wanted about trails, and other places to adventure. Even if I did find the basics it is almost never from the time that I want to go. Having a resource that's full of outdoor information that is up to date as well would be the holy grail of outdoor sites. I plan to make this happen over the next few years starting with Vancouver Island and spreading it around the world. Any users will be allowed to sign up and add their own outdoor trip reports and trail information. I've also got a few applications on the list that will integrate with the site to make planning your outdoor excursion extremely easy.Outdoor ManualsTo go along with the current trail and location information that Rambler will eventually have, I plan on making manuals for all the outdoor sports that are out there. Starting with the basics, they'll move up to intermediate and advanced as I get to those levels with the different areas. The first will be hiking and will most likely be a free one. Soon after that I'll be creating a skiing, climbing and mountain biking manuals and selling them for a small fee. They'll be full of all the resources and information you'll need to get you started in the various human-powered outdoor activities.Trail GuidesWith all the information on Rambler and in the Outdoor Manuals, I'm not sure if I'll need to create these Trail Guides. They'll essentially be very details guides of popular trails. The intention is that you could pick up one of these babies, peruse at your leisure online or your mobile device and then you'll be set to go for that trail or area. These will require a ton of time out on the trails but that's what I love doing most so it's going to be a blast.Map VITo get things started with Rambler and for some good stories on Island Adventurer, I've started a projecting called Map VI (short for Vancouver Island). While I get Rambler up and running, I'll be hiking, running, riding and kayaking everywhere I can on Vancouver Island to get good stories and data to fill Rambler with. My goal is to eventually have every single trail that's on Vancouver Island on the website free for people to see and use to plan hiking, biking and running trips. Of course I'll need the help of everyone I can if I plan to complete this one within a reasonable time. Getting people to go on trips up mountains and out into the woods isn't hard at all but getting them to record that trip online somewhere is a huge task. Most just want to go on the trip and take a few photos, they don't care about writing about the trip afterwards. There may have to be some incentives involved. Prizes anyone?AdventuringAfter working at an outdoor outfitters store for a while, I've got a newfound love and respect for those people that ski, hike, run, kayak regularly. Not only are they getting some great exercise, they're seeing some amazing places. Through the outdoors groups I regularly meet up with I've met some awesome people and have joined them for some great trips.SkiingSkiing is definitely my current favorite. It changes regularly but right now it's what I think about, read about and do almost more than any other sport(I run almost every day so that would have to be the most but it's more just to keep fit than adventuring). In fact, as I'm writing this section, I'm nursing some sore muscles from a good day on the local ski mountain. One of my main reasons for getting into skiing so much this year is that it opens up a lot of new territory to explore, photograph and write about. Most of the time travelling through snow, snowshoes are most often choice for mode of travel. But they can be slow. Throw a pair of climbing skins onto some touring skis and you can climb mountains, traverse glaciers and get to some incredible places. Best of all, the way down is much faster because all you have to do is ski!This year resort skiing was a top priority just to get as many runs in as I could. I've only just started skiing this year and I needed to find the fastest way to get my bearings on my new skis. I'm getting close to a comfort level where I can ski just about anything I want. After I reach that point, I'll be heading out into the backcountry for most of my skiing days. Hitting the backcountry is nice because there are far fewer people, the scenery is amazing, and once you've got the appropriate gear, it's free!Running Cape Scott and West Coast TrailIf I don't get anything else accomplished this year aside from running the the Cape Scott trail and the West Coast Trail, I'd be a happy camper... or runner. My running partner and I ran the 47km long Juan De Fuca Trail on Vancouver Island last year. As I was running it, I couldn't imagine running anything longer. It became apparent after that it wasn't that hard. Yes, it was the hardest run I had ever done up until that point, but after it was over, I knew I was ready for something more. If I had run that far in 7.5 hours after some mediocre training, what can I do with a little patience, a positive mindset and better training? If I can do 50k, why not go a little further and go 60km or 75 or even 100? Pushing yourself hard opens up possibilities that you never think are possible. Only a few years ago, I thought a 5km run was a long one. Now I'm doing ten times that for fun. The Cape Scott Trail will be a warm up for the West Coast Trail at about 40-50km. I've never been to the area so it will be a nice change from running around Nanaimo. The West Coast trail is a gnarly 75km run that will be an incredible test for my skill, endurance and spirit but I know with a bit of a push that it's possible. Lots of training needs to be done before then though.Momar Adventure Race in CumberlandRyan and I did this race last year. We did ok but I was sorely disappointed in my performance on the bike. The race starts with a kayak, moves into running for a few hours, then culminates in a beautiful mountain bike ride. All totaled you travel about 50km. It took us about 7 hours last year. Both my legs cramped hard on the ride and I feel like we could have finished around an hour faster had I been in good form. I had never done a race that long before and it kicked me hard. I'm determined this year to do more training for it. I feel now that I know what to expect, it won't be nearly as punishing.WakeboardingI wasn't sure if I should really call this a project but it seemed like everything lately that matters to me is being put into a "project" and made a priority. All my other adventure and learning projects could eventually lead to some sort of money but I can't see this one really going anywhere. I just really like wakeboarding. I remember all the way back to when we first started. My cousin and uncle brought home a wakeboard from a show they went to since it'd be fun to try. We all ended up loving it, especially my cousin and I. When we're at our summer cabin, every spare minute is of thinking about wakeboarding or actually doing it. I got busy last year and didn't end up going as much as I had liked so this summer it's going to be a top priority.Climbing ?This one is a question mark right now. I'd love to start climbing. A lot of my friends are climbers and I'm totally jealous every time they post photos. Like skiing, climbing also a gateway to some incredible places and another very healthy thing to do. The issue I still need to decide on is whether I have the time to do it. To really get started, two days a week climbing is the minimum. I'm not sure if I have the time to commit to that right now but we'll see how my priorities change as we head into the spring and summer.What do you have going on this year? Any big projects coming up? What are you most excited to do?