Technology permitting, let’s hear a guy named Matt Cutts (an engineer at Google) talk about the value of 30 day challenges:
Today we’ll begin talking about our “30 day challenge” project. In addition to those links under the “Assignments” tab, you can also get a pretty good list here. There’s another list of 30 day challenges some guy tried here.
As we pursue our individual 30 day challenges, we’ll do a few things to keep us motivated as a group. We’ll check in on each other’s progress periodically. We’ll also make sure we’re each keeping up a log of our challenges.
As we log our progress through our challenges, we’ll take cues from a term from ethnography – thick description. As part of your assignment, you’ll be required to write at least 150 words a day about your particular challenge. You should chart physical things (ie, where you undertook the challenge, who you were with, how you felt, etc) and any social things that might be relevant (outside stresses, etc).
Day One – before: For the first day of this challenge, I have a college-ruled notebook and a Pilot G-2 07 pen. I’ve found handwriting samples on the internet that I’m going to attempt to emulate. I think my bad handwriting is a result of never learning to hold my pen correctly in elementary school. I may have to work on that, too, although I fear that it’ll be too difficult to undo 31 years of practice.
After: I chose to focus on my “a” for today. Tomorrow I will focus on “b.” I’ve chosen a conservative “a,” and I’ve self-consciously slowed down each time an “a” occurs. I’ve also decided to write out a random paragraph from a random book on my shelf. Today is Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphus. About half way through writing, my hand began to cramp. Perhaps another challenge will be to preserve better handwriting when writing hurriedly. I noticed that I like my existing “e,” particularly when surrounded by “s” (such as in “deserves”).
Day Two: I chose a random passage from Walter Benjamin’s Illuminations. I began the challenge at 2:02 and finished at 2:14. The Ravens were playing, and I was distracted (so it took me longer than it would have otherwise). The passage contains several instances of the word “abyss,” which allowed me to practice my first two letters (“a” and “b”) one after the other. I used the same notebook and pen as I did yesterday. My hands were a bit shaky – probably because I just got back from the gym.
Today I noticed that I’m not closing the circle on my “a” when I write quickly. I’ll have to continue working on that. Unlike the “a,” which I can write in one motion, I found that sometimes I write the “b” with two motions: one downward and one circular, and sometimes with one motion. I like the one motion “b” better. I also notice that I tend to not close my “g,” either. I like my “e” and “y” as is. I will also have to pick my passages more carefully: this passage had many “a’s” (9 in the first sentence alone), but only 7 “b’s.” Looking over the passage, I also notice that some “b’s” – especially when I use two motions instead of one.