Recently, I haven’t been updating this blog. The biggest factor was that right after spring break finished, all of my classes decided they could really get moving, and I’ve been swamped with final projects until today.

However, that shouldn’t be an excuse not to blog at all. In fact, for about the first two weeks after break, I found myself wanting to write blog posts about various silly observations I’d had. I knew I was busy, and that blogging had to take a backseat, but it was nagging me for a while. To quote Art & Fear yet again,

Artists don’t get down to work until the pain of working is exceeded by the pain of not working.

Yet as the weeks passed by, that motivation dwindled. I always had an excuse. This presentation is due the 14th. I need to fix my research code in time to run experiments. I have a paper to write. These were all indisputable facts, and the consequences were similarly unavoidable: my blogging habit slowly dissipated. Gaming and TVTropes rushed into the void, and soon I was back where I started.

Classes have finished at Berkeley, meaning I’m free for the first time in a long while. But in just over a month, I’ll be starting a full-time job, and I’m worried I’ll once again have reasons not to blog. I’ll be too tired, I’ll be too drained. Those are the words I’ll tell myself to justify not writing, and sometimes they will be true and sometimes they won’t, but the outcome will be the same either way.

With a new month comes a new start and a new opportunity. I’ve been planning this for a while, and I am proud to present: The Blogging Gauntlet of May 2016!

(Please clap.)

Here’s how it works.

  • For every day of May, I will write and post at least 500 words.
  • If I write more than 500 words for a day, that’s great! I still have to write 500 words the next day. There is no rollover, there is no surplus, and there is no buffer. Five hundred words per day, every day, all written between 12:00:00 AM and 11:59:59 PM local time.
  • I am allowed to write on whatever I want. I am allowed to write as awfully as I want. Posts do not have to be well-edited, but I will try to edit them if I have the time.
  • To make my brain take notice of this, every day I fail to write 500 words, I will donate $20 to charity. I plan to distribute any money donated based on GiveWell’s recommendations.

This gauntlet is a somewhat drastic measure, but I am very sure I can do this. Looking back, I was about as busy last semester as I was this semester, but I still managed to get posts out on a semi-regular basis.

The intention with this challenge is that 500 words is not that much. Yet, if I do 500 words every day, that’s 15,000 words this month, and that’s quite a bit. Think NaNoWriMo, but smaller scale and more personal. This should also help flush my queue of ideas I want to write down but haven’t yet. Based on reception, I can then narrow down which ideas I want to write about in more detail.

If I can’t do this when I don’t have work, there’s no way I do this when I do have work. If I can do this for an entire month, the habit may finally stick.

I’m pretty excited about this. I have more to say about why I’m doing this, but I’ll leave it for another time.

(Finally, a parting mark: yes, my brain models giving to charity as a punishment, not a reward. if you’re wondering about the ethical gymnastics going on behind that, stay tuned, because I will almost certainly write about it.)