Today marks the end of the 7-Day Reading Challenge.
At least, it marked an end to the official days. . . Here’s what I learned from hosting a 7-Day Challenge over Twitter, Instagram, and WordPress, and what I plan on doing next.
Seven Days of Challenging Myself
I spent the last seven days of my life reading for 20 minutes a day and posting to Instagram, Twitter, and WordPress about my reading experience. This was an attempt to start building a stronger reading habit while connecting with others about the joy of reading. You can read about the challenge here.
I thought that building the reading habit would be the hardest part. It was not.
The most difficult element of the challenge was keeping up with a consistent posting schedule across the three mediums. The process taught me so much.
Here’s what I learned:
Lesson # 1: Hosting a challenge is fun, even with a small number of people.
As of writing this post, the Instagram hashtag garnered about 26 public posts. This is a relatively small number considering what is possible during a challenge. However, this made no difference in terms of how fun the challenge was.
Some people are still continuing the challenge, and that’s unbelievably cool. Others are just starting, like this user, @blackbird_reads, who is creating a story highlight for the challenge.
I had the opportunity to connect with people I didn’t know, inside and outside of the challenge, simply because we were consistently reading and posting about our reading experience.
Lesson # 2: Social pressure helps me accomplish tasks.
Hosting the challenge gave it an extra edge, as I had the opportunity to see the process grow. I was pushed by social pressure to make sure I completed my 20 minutes of reading a day. Social pressure also encouraged me to post daily on WordPress and Instagram – a habit that I would like to continue whenever possible.
Lesson # 3: I can easily let social media consume me.
On Wednesday and Thursday, I found myself checking Instagram far too much, and I needed to check in with myself about how much social media time was healthy. I know I may sound old saying this, but there definitely is a limit to how much Instagram a person should consume before it consumes you.
Still, it wasn’t wasted time. Last week I didn’t even know what a theme or aesthetic was for an Instagram feed, and now I’m learning how to post more visually-appealing content.
Lesson # 4: On most days, I wanted to read for more than 20 minutes.
The reading challenge not only pushed me to read for 20 minutes, but it also pushed me to think deeply about my own reading. As a result, I took a longer amount of time to process my reading each day. For that, I am happier.
Lesson # 5: The most meaningful connections were with people over the smallest things.
Whenever someone told me about a new book, project, or ARC, I felt like we were building a small community around reading. I know that Bookstagram and other communities exist for readers, but this felt more personal. Maybe it was the size, or maybe it was the specificity of the challenge.
The smallest conversations somehow felt bigger, like we strangers were reaching across the internet and building bridges.
Lesson # 6: Hosting a challenge keeps you focused on a small set of tasks.
Hosting the challenge kept me focused on these tasks:
- Reading every day.
- Posting to Instagram every day.
- Writing blog posts every day.
- Asking questions every day.
- Becoming inquisitive about what works and reflecting for a few minutes on new things I could try.
Lesson # 7: Seven days is too short of a time to recruit people to a challenge. Which is why it will remain open . . . forever.
I only promoted the challenge for a week before it started, and I honestly have a very small following of people at this point. This didn’t discourage me when I started the challenge, and it doesn’t discourage me now. In fact, it’s rather encouraging. I’m keeping the hashtag open, and I will post regularly to it, just in case someone else decides to take on the challenge and #readwithcurtis.
I organized all the 7-Day Reading Posts on a new site page. You can check it out here.
I’m going to post about my reading regularly to the Instagram hashtag #readwithcurtis , and I will update the #readwithcurtis site page when I write articles about specific books.
New Habits to Keep
- Reading regularly.
- Posting regularly to Paper Palaces.
- Posting to Instagram daily.
- Connecting with others daily.
I’m sure there will be days when this won’t be possible, but I think setting the intention is important.
A New Challenge
I’m planning a new challenge, just for me. It’s more of an experiment than a challenge. You can follow the experiment via this blog. Of course, you are welcome to join in too!
For the next season, I am going dive into my fiction writing. I will post about it regularly on my Instagram feed as well under the hashtag #MinutesToABetterBook, and I will, of course, create process posts here on WordPress. I want to see how quickly I can get to 18,000 minutes (300 Hours) of time dedicated to just writing fiction, specifically my books. Read more about Minutes to a Better Book here.
I’m would like to complete that writing time by the end of the summer. It will take many early mornings, and probably some late nights, but the story must be told.
Want to try the 7-Day Reading challenge? Read more about the challenge here.
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