Take Aways From The First Week of the $1000 Challenge

This week I lived with the commitment of a promise to do more of MY work at the risk of losing $1000 if I failed to produce.

I think it’s appropriate to just comment on the commitment to actually DO the creative work when you feel like it. I’m talking about starting a new job – YOU or in this case, ME.

This boss looked like me and he even knew every little trick my might try to play to get out of doing my work. He had my checkbook and was ready to dock me if the work wasn’t completed and posted by Sunday at 2pm.

I used to think that my love for an activity such as writing was all I needed. That I would naturally gravitate to it and that quality time doing it over quantity of time was all I would need to make me great. I’ve learned that though I might gravitate to activities like writing – without discipline I won’t make any marked improvements. And I might not do it as much as I could.

I Still Try To Take The Easy Way

So, without a plan I sifted through what I was sure was a treasure trove of rough drafts I’ve accumulated in a folder on my desktop. This folder is proof of my work ethic previous to this week. It showed a bunch of impulsive ideas with barely any meat on their bones. I was frustrated and now, I think, a little blessed to see plainly that this method of production doesn’t work.

Spontaneity is Nice But Discipline Feels Great

I discovered myself sitting and writing more often, and not because I felt inspired, with nothing pressing to do and all the other planets lined up perfectly. I found myself writing because I had promised to write. I had an audience of one genuinely curious about what I would force myself to create. And another audience member calling me and asking where the work – and the $1000 – was.

Increasing Creative Work Can Actually Increase Your Capacity

If you take someone who is tired and burned out at work and tell them they need to exercise – take long walks, lift weights or go for a swim, they’re likely to look at you like you’re crazy. But this week I have found that self directed creative workouts increased my capacity rather than taxing it past the breaking point.

I felt a little angry at myself and foolish for having, as my racquetball partner pointed out, unnecessarily created a lot more work for myself just as my work load at my two gigs was increasing. But I discovered that having this little commitment occupying a place in my brain and in my day forced my thoughts out of the dark corners of work commitment where they were going in circles ruminating and worrying. It seemed to lift my mood as though I carried a pleasant secret.

Structure Promises a Path, But Will I Apply It

I told myself that I had plenty of time to get it done. I laughed at myself a little as I watched myself doing things other than getting down to the work- unnecessary things. I saw myself calculating how to get through this week, money still in pocket, and telling myself that next week would be different. I saw myself giving myself breaks that would lead to deadline anxiety.

Sadly, I saw myself pulling off that trick of sitting down and pulling things together at the last moment. And my haste actually forced me to be honest with myself and that honesty made me grin a little while I typed up to the deadline.

But I could hear my father’s voice the way he always sounded when he saw me push something up to the deadline or cut corners. He would say: “Think how much better it would have been if you hadn’t waited.” Heavy shit. And now I’m finally hearing it.

Surprises About Commitment

All of these impulses would have been enough for me, before the $1000 bet – to tell myself that this wasn’t the right time to start. To tell myself that the half-written notes in my desktop folder were proof that my ideas weren’t really any good. To tell myself that without inspiration I was just going to be wasting my time and that putting in the hours wasn’t the key to this work.

This is one way that the philosophy of A Day On needed some tweaking.