Back in April of this year, I started what I called the 100 Days Project, where I would try to write and publish a novella in 100 days.
Well, day 100 of the challenge was August 27th, the day I would theoretically publish my novella, and unfortunately, I did not make that deadline, but not because I ran out of time. It was at the end of May, around day 37, that I really began to struggle, and there are a variety of reasons for that.
At the time, I put the project on hold for a bit, hoping I could come back to it within a week or two. It would mean a delay in when I would publish, but that wouldn’t be a problem. The goal, after all, was to spend 100 days working on the project. If I took a break, it didn’t matter. I still had the remaining 100 days to work on it.
Maybe you can see already where the cracks were starting to form in my plan. I’ve always had a problem sticking to deadlines. Maybe it’s the ADHD, but allowing myself this kind of flexibility was setting a dangerous precedent where the project was concerned,
I hope it doesn’t sound as though I have a bunch of excuses lined up to explain why it didn’t pan out as expected. No one is more frustrated than I am about the last three months, that’s for sure. But my own mental health struggles aside, I did the best I could to set myself up for success. And I want to process what happened, reflect on what I could do differently, and then get back to work. That’s how I’ll find what works for me. I have to learn from my mistakes if I want to grow from them.
In the end, I stopped working on the project on Day 36, and haven’t picked it up since, so I today I’m here to provide a long overdue update to explain what exactly went wrong, and what I’m going to do going forward.
Guilt & The Problem of Time Management
Trying to publish a book in 100 days was not going to be easy, even if the book itself was a short one. The first 36 days took a lot of my time and energy, and that meant that other things were neglected. This blog was one of them, and I’ve mentioned it many times before, but this blog is my baby and I’ve worked very hard on it. The last thing I wanted to do was leave it to collect dust.
So I tried to juggle all of my commitments, but that proved to be too much. I considered taking a short break from the project to give me time to work on other things, but it ended up taking more time than I intended. That meant I was taking even more time from my project and that left me feeling constantly guilty for not working on my book. But when I tried to sit down and work on my book, I felt guilty for everything else it was forcing me to abandon, my blog included.
I was guilty when I worked on it, and guilty when I didn’t, and try as I might I was struggling to manage my time effectively so I didn’t have to neglect anything.
The Ongoing Battle with Fear
The entire reason I began this project was to deal with my perfectionism getting in the way of my publishing journey. I think this largely has to do with a fear of success, but I will leave that little nugget for discussion some other day. The point, at least, was that this project was meant to challenge me in a way nothing else had up until that point, by forcing a deadline and limiting the amount of time I was able to work on a project.
And what a challenge it was. The first 36 days were hard – really hard. I was enjoying myself, don’t get me wrong – working on a book was certainly not easy, but it wasn’t torturous. If you’ve read my 25% update, you know how quickly things went sideways and how much manoeuvring I had to do. And I’m certain there will be far more manoeuvring to come.
At the start of May, I had finished the first draft and began working on edits, and then that perfectionism started to rear its ugly head. I struggled for a while, and when compounded with the guilt, I retreated from the project completely to focus on other things, because ultimately, that was easier than sitting down and facing the proverbial music.
The Seasonality of Work
If you’ve been around for a while, you know I tend to disappear in the summer times – I notice it every time I look at my blog stats. I’d love to say that it’s because I’m relaxing on a beach somewhere, sipping iced tea and reading some cozy mysteries, but the truth is far simpler than that: I don’t like the heat.
I don’t work well in the heat, and I am easily distracted when I get too warm. Again, this might be an ongoing ADHD thing, but I’m more irritable and have a much harder time focusing when it’s hot and humid outside. I get a lot less sleep because of the temperature, and the time and energy that I have to get things done are considerably smaller.
So what would possess me to start a massive project that would have me working hard through the summer months – the one time of year statistically proven to be difficult for me to get any work done? I’m impatient, for one. I worried I would lose my nerve, for another. If I didn’t do it at that moment, I might not have had the confidence to commit to such an insane project later on. So I went ahead with it.
This makes it sound as though I didn’t take the season into account at all, and I want to make it clear that I did. I spent entirely too much time combing over this plan, and trying to account for every problem (hello, perfectionism!). I realized that it would be hard to work on something creative in the summer heat, and I hoped to have the draft in a mostly finished state by then. If you read my last update, you knew that the drafting process was going less than smoothly, and all of my carefully laid plans were very quickly breaking down.
By the time I worked through my guilt and tried to rein in my perfectionism, Summer had arrived, and boy was it a hot one this year.
What Happens Now
Believe it or not, I still plan to finish this project. While my hiatus extended much longer than I intended it to be, that doesn’t mean I want to give up on this book. Some problems I anticipated. Some problems I did not. I did the best I could at the time, and I can’t ask myself to do more than that. I knew this was not going to be easy, so I don’t plan on beating myself up for something that was a massive undertaking.
Technically, I still have 64 days left in this challenge, though it will not be as all-consuming as I was before. I already know that won’t work for me. The plan, at the current stage, is to spend three to four days per week on the project, though I will allow myself to work with fewer days as necessary so I can batch posts for the blog and work on Notion templates, among other things.
A quick bit of math and we’re looking at somewhere between 16 and 21 weeks before I’ve used up all 100 days. And finally, when we get to day 100, we’ll see just how far I’ve made it.
What’s a major hurdle you’ve had in your writing journey, and how did you overcome it? What have you learned that made you a better writer? Let me know in the comments below!