7 Lessons I Learned From Hosting My First 7-Day Challenge, and What I’m Doing Next . . .

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.

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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:

  1. Reading every day.
  2. Posting to Instagram every day.
  3. Writing blog posts every day.
  4. Asking questions every day.
  5. 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.


What’s Next?

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

  1. Reading regularly.
  2. Posting regularly to Paper Palaces.
  3. Posting to Instagram daily.
  4. 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.

-Curtis

Let’s Connect!

Instagram: @CurtisWritesBooks

Facebook: /curtisteichertbooks

Patreon: /CurtisWritesBooks

Twitter: @staghorncrown

WordPress: PaperPalacesBlog.com

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Want to try the 7-Day Reading challenge? Read more about the challenge here.

-Curtis

Read an article that refreshes you!

Today’s bonus daily task for the 7-Day Reading Challenge is to reconnect with yourself. One of my suggestions is to read an article about mental, spiritual, or physical health. Recharge!

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Reconnect with Yourself – Read an article that refreshes you!

My Response

Day 07

The purpose of today’s task is to refresh yourself after these last seven days of building a reading habit. I hope that the 7-Day Challenge has worked for you so far. It definitely has been a great experience for me. If you have not done the challenge, I encourage you to do so. The hashtag #ReadWithCurtis is still up, and I will continue posting to it, especially on Instagram.


Refreshing Articles

When it comes to refreshing articles, I strongly recommend any article on mental, physical, or spiritual health. This morning, I took some time to read a few articles online. Some of the articles focused on the psychology of feeling motivated, as well as how to develop habits that leave you feeling empowered and generally happy.

Taking time to read short articles that contribute to my well-being always improves the quality of my day. Strangely enough, I usually feel most refreshed when reading about goal setting in any of these areas; habit formation is definitely one area that I love reading about.

Of course, whenever I read articles like these, I usually have a cup of black coffee in hand, and that may account for all of the refreshing energy I feel…


An Article for You

This morning, I was walking while listening to a podcast interview with James Clear. I have talked about him before on this blog.  He usually has simple, easy-to-apply tips for forming positive working habits. Today’s podcast brought up the idea of an anchor goal. I have included an article from James Clear’s blog on single-tasking vs. multi-tasking. There, you will find the idea of an anchor goal in his own words. I really like the idea of creating an anchor goal, especially because my high degree of openness drives me to chase every idea I have.

Here is the article for your perusal:

Do you have an article that refreshed you? Let me know!

-Curtis


Let’s Connect!

 

Instagram: @CurtisWritesBooks

Facebook: /curtisteichertbooks

Patreon: /CurtisWritesBooks

Twitter: @staghorncrown

WordPress: PaperPalacesBlog.com

Spend your Day Binge Reading or Sampling New Books – 7-Day Challenge – Day 06

Today’s post is for the Day Six of the #ReadWithCurtis 7-Day Challenge. Today’s bonus task is to binge read or sample new books.

Read all of my 7-Day Challenge Articles here.

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Binge Reading or Sampling New Books

 

My Response

Day 06

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This week has been great. While I have mostly stuck to reading two books Fragile Things and Tolkien’s Ring, I have found the process of reading daily and posting daily to be not only fun but also extremely sustainable. It’s nice to connect with friends, family, and complete strangers over what’s being read.

For day six, I’ve already started amassing my next list of books to binge read. In a few hours, I am heading over to my mother’s house for Mother’s Day, so I won’t binge read until tomorrow – sometime between grading papers, doing the dishes, and writing A Thousand Watchful Eyes.

I’ve continued reading Tolkien’s Ring as a start, and I hope to budget more of my time tomorrow towards knocking out books on the list.

Here’s the start of my Mythic / Epic Fantasy Binge-Read List

  • Tolkien’s Ring – David Day and Alan Lee
  • The Mythology of Middle Earth – Ruth Noel
  • Norse Mythology – Neil Gaiman (Re-Read)

Do you have any book recommendations to go on my list? I’m looking especially for short fantasy fiction, as I am doing some writing experiments within that genre.

-Curtis


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Let’s Connect!

 

Instagram: @CurtisWritesBooks

Facebook: /curtisteichertbooks

Patreon: /CurtisWritesBooks

Twitter: @staghorncrown

WordPress: PaperPalacesBlog.com

Connect with another reader!

Today’s post is for the Day Five of the #ReadWithCurtis 7-Day Challenge. Today’s bonus task is to connect with another reader!

Read all of my 7-Day Challenge Articles here.

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Connect with another reader!

7-Day Reading Challenge Update & My Response

Day 05

This challenge was about connecting with readers while forming a stronger reading habit. In a way, I have been trying to do this since the beginning of the challenge. To change things up a bit, I’ve decided to talk to more and more people. I want to connect with others about what I am reading, what I am writing, and share the enthusiasm for both! To help with this,  I am participating in a few more challenges and communities online. #BookstagramTogetherInMay is a one example.

I am finding that I often stick to my own comfort zone when it comes to connecting with people, and sometimes I need to take a risk and reach out. I’m hoping to make as many meaningful connections with people as I can. I’ve already gained solidarity with the people who have joined the challenge, and I am happy for that.

 


Have you started the challenge? What are your reading plans?

-Curtis


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Let’s Connect!

 

Instagram: @CurtisWritesBooks

Facebook: /curtisteichertbooks

Patreon: /CurtisWritesBooks

Twitter: @staghorncrown

WordPress: PaperPalacesBlog.com

What is the strangest or most memorable thing you have read today?

Today is Day Four of the # 7-Day Reading Challenge. Today’s bonus prompt is What is the strangest or most memorable thing you have read today?  Remember to post with the hashtag #ReadWithCurtis on Instagram, Twitter, or your blog so we can see how you respond. Feel free to leave your response in the comments!

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What is the strangest or most memorable thing you have read today?

My Response

Today, I continued to read David Day’s Tolkien’s Ring, a book that explores the connections between myth, literature, and Tolkien’s writings. I learned a few days ago that Tolkien hated Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.”

Today, the most memorable passage I read was a retelling of the Norse Volsunga saga – specifically a scene where the wander Odin plunges a sword into a tree. This story very much reminds me of Arthurian legend, and the academic inside of me is holding both arms in the air in excitement for reading myths and legends.

I’m proud of my nerdy taste in books.

 


7-Day Reading Challenge Update

Day 04

This has been a great day of the challenge so far. More people are joining the hashtag on Instagram and WordPress (#ReadWithCurtis). Here’s a big shoutout to Judy in Delight in Your Garden for starting the challenge on WordPress! I strongly encourage you to join if you haven’t already. It’s been a lot of fun.

You can choose which seven days you are going to read. Read for 20 minutes a day, and then post about your reading experience.

Even if you miss a day, try restarting the challenge! There are a lot of false starts when it comes to habit building. Believe me. I know. I’ve tried and messed up before, but that’s just how forming new habits work.

If you decide to join, I wish you the best of luck! Why not try the bonus prompt of the day as well?

What’s the strangest or most memorable thing you read today? (Blogs and online reading count too!)

 

-Curtis


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Let’s Connect!

 

Instagram: @CurtisWritesBooks

Facebook: /curtisteichertbooks

Patreon: /CurtisWritesBooks

Twitter: @staghorncrown

WordPress: PaperPalacesBlog.com

 

 

What resonates with you from your reading?

The question for today’s reading challenge is What resonates with you from your reading? If your not part of the 7-Day Challenge, feel free to answer the question anyway. It’s nice to hear what ideas stick with you. What impresses you? What piques your interest?

This can be about anything you’re reading! Reply in the comments or through any of the challenge feeds.

Read all the 7-Day Challenge Articles here.

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What resonates with you from your reading?

My Response

I read a lot of fantasy and non-fiction lately, and there used to be a time when I read more realistic fiction. My tastes have definitely changed over the years, and I think it is because I am realizing what resonates with me; I am moved by well-crafted works of fiction.

Not only am I moved by well-crafted scenes, plot, and dialogue, I also love the unique quality that the fantasy genre has to offer. For me, the technique of a well-written book resonates with me. I am moved by the deep worlds created by Rowling, Tolkien, and Martin, and I’m excited by the dark prose and unique voice of Gaiman and Maas.

Let me know what resonates with you! What type of reading moves you? Which authors just do it right?


7-Day Reading Challenge Update

Day 03

Today is Day Three of the #ReadWithCurtis 7-Day Reading Challenge, and I’m currently reading Tolkien’s Ring by David Day, illustrated by Alan Lee. I am also reading short stories out of the book Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman. I had these authors in mind today as I wrote my response to today’s prompt.

Tolkien’s Ring examines Tolkien’s work and its relationship with mythology and classical literature. There are gorgeous illustrations in this book.

Fragile Things is a collection of short works by Neil Gaiman. This book has re-inspired me to look at the relationship between my own reading and writing.

How are you doing with the challenge?

Remember  to use the hashtag #ReadWithCurtis so we can see what you are reading!


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Let’s Connect!

 

Instagram: @CurtisWritesBooks

Facebook: /curtisteichertbooks

Patreon: /CurtisWritesBooks

Twitter: @staghorncrown

WordPress: PaperPalacesBlog.com

What’s next on your reading list? #ReadWithCurtis Challenge: Day Two and Book Review Blogs

Whenever I finish a book,  I usually consult a reading list, pick a book from a stack, or go to my online reading communities via book blogs or vlogs. When you can’t decide what to read next, what do you do? What’s next on your reading list?

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#ReadWithCurtis 7-Day Reading Challenge: Day Two

First, let me with you a happy Tuesday! Today’s task/bonus prompt for the #ReadWithCurtis 7-Day Reading challenge is related to the title of this post: What’s next on your reading list? 

Are you sticking with the same book that you have been reading lately? Or, are you going to venture out and sample a few others?

Additional Questions You Could Answer

  • What has gone well so far?
  • Have you completed two days of reading in a row?
  • Have you read for 20 minutes or more on each day?
  • What kind of books, articles, magazines, or blogs have you read?

Remember to use the hashtag #ReadWithCurtis so we can see what you are reading!

Read all of my 7-Day Challenge Articles here.


My Response to Today’s Daily Task:

What’s next on my reading list?

Today, I have a choice between Neil Gaiman’s Fragile Things, and David Day and Alan Lee’s illustrated edition of Tolkien’s Ring. Both books look fantastic. Gaiman’s short works of fiction are his usual mix of humorous, dark prose and wit. Tolkien’s Ring is definitely next on the list, but I don’t know if I want to finish Gaiman’s book of short works first. Anthologies lend themselves to be read piece by piece, so I may pause from Gaiman’s work and begin reading David Day’s book.

Challenge Progress

The 7-Day challenge has been great so far. I have read for twenty minutes each day, including this morning (I’m an early bird). I’m mostly sticking within my comfort zone of speculative fiction and fantasy.

To be completely honest, the #ReadWithCurtis tag has not caught on yet. However, it has made a nice place to keep track of all challenge-related posts. For the most part, I have a refreshed enthusiasm for reading, and I’m inspired by the books I’ve decided to pick up.

Although only a small community of people have joined me on the challenge, I don’t feel alone in my reading endeavor. In fact, I feel like I’m making small but meaningful connections with a lot of people across the internet. Strangely enough, it’s all been through comment threads and direct messages. I wonder if this is because it’s more personal than a hashtag. Who knows?


Book Review Blogs Worth Checking Out

Reading and sharing reading is a funny thing. I would never dream of starting a book review blog, mostly because I prefer writing about the creative process, particularly crafting fiction. Still, I have an appreciation for book blogging and book reviews.

There are so many beautiful reading review and book blogs/vlogs on the internet, and I feel like I’ve just scratched the surface with the ones I’ve found. Ashley from ThriftyBibliophile is someone I’ve recently followed because of the quality of her posts and the organization of her content.

Stephanie from Adventures of a Bibliophile is another one worth checking out. Although they have very different styles, they both deliver interesting posts in their own way. If you have an excellent book blog that you follow, please share!

-Curtis

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Let’s Connect

What’s next on your reading list?

Instagram @CurtisWritesBooks

Facebook /curtisteichertbooks

Patreon/CurtisWritesBooks

Twitter @staghorncrown

WordPress PaperPalacesBlog.com


Like What You’re Reading? Join the Reader’s Club or Become a Patron.


How are you starting your week of reading?

Today is Day One of the #ReadWithCurtis Reading Challenge. Whether you are participating in the challenge or not, you are welcome to share what you are reading!

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#ReadWithCurtis 7-Day Reading Challenge: Day One

How did you start your week of reading?

The goal of today’s task/bonus challenge is to start the week feeling good. Celebrate the beginning of your reading challenge by simply posting about your reading. I have included a few ideas:

Ideas for Starting Your Posts:

  • Take a picture of a book or stack of books you enjoy or plan to read soon.
  • Take a picture of the specific book that you are reading, and post it to Instagram, Twitter, or WordPress.
  • Take a picture of a specific quote in your reading.

Remember to use the hashtag #ReadWithCurtis so we can see what you are reading!

Do you want your post or blog featured?

If you want to be featured during this challenge, add a link back to this page or link to the #ReadWithCurtis guidelines. Or, you could follow the challenge on Instagram (links below).

My Response to Today’s Daily Task:

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I’m starting my week reading Neil Gaiman’s Fragile Things. This is a collection of short works across a variety of genres. I am a huge fan of Neil Gaiman, and I will post more about the reading experience later after I read more. So far, I’ve read a Sherlock-Holmes-meets-Lovecraftian-horror short story, as well as a faerie poem within the book. It’s a neat read.

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Let’s Connect!

What are you reading this week?

-Curtis

Instagram: @CurtisWritesBooks

Facebook: /curtisteichertbooks

Patreon: /CurtisWritesBooks

Twitter:   @staghorncrown

WordPress: PaperPalacesBlog.com


Read all of my 7-Day Challenge Articles here.

Like What You’re Reading? Join the Reader’s Club or Become a Patron.

 

 

STACK THOSE BOOKS – The 7-Day Reading Challenge Starts Tomorrow!

It’s the day before the challenge, and I am pumped. In case you didn’t know, I have invited people to read every day for seven days, starting tomorrow! If you are not already participating in the #ReadWithCurtis 7-Day Reading challenge, I urge you to do so.  Here’s what you can do today . . .

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What can you do today?

Today is DAY ZERO of the challenge! Although our seven days have not officially started, I thought it would be nice to post anyway.

There are multiple ways you can participate today. If you are moved to write a post, snap a picture of a book, or share an article via Twitter, feel free to start early!

 

Or, you can take one or more of these specific steps:

  • Participate in today’s STACK ATTACK: Post a stack of books to Instagram, Twitter, or your blog (see the bottom of this post for an example).
  • Share what you want to read on Facebook, or the official Facebook event discussion.
  • Reply in today’s comments: What do you want to read? Or, what are you currently reading?
  • Write a blog post about why you are doing the challenge and link back to any of the 7-Day Challenge articles.  All of the 7-Day Reading Challenge Articles are located here.
  • Connect with me on Instagram and answer one of the questions in the #ReadWithCurtis stories.
  • You could share this challenge with other people who may enjoy reading all week. The official rules are in the easy-to-share image below.

In all cases, remember to use the #ReadWithCurtis hashtag so we can see your posts. 

#ReadWithCurtis (1)

Like What You’re Reading? Join the Reader’s Club or Become a Patron.

If you want your blog or Instagram post featured during this challenge, add a link back to this page or link to the #ReadWithCurtis guidelines.


What about the rest of the week?

This Week’s 7-Day Reading Challenge Posts at a Glance:

  • Day 0 – Sunday: Stack Attack
  • Day 1 – Monday: How did you start your week of reading?
  • Day 2 – Tuesday: What has gone well so far? What’s next?
  • Day 3 – Wednesday: What resonates with you from your reading?
  • Day 4 – Thursday: The Strangest Thing You Have Read
  • Day 5 – Friday: Connect With Another Reader
  • Day 6 – Saturday: Binge Read or Taste Books
  • Day 7 – Sunday: Reconnect with Yourself. How did the challenge go?

A Recap of the Rules

  1. Read every day for 20 minutes, for seven days.
  2. Post about what you read on Instagram, Twitter, or your blog using the hashtag #ReadWithCurtis.

Resources for you!

In addition to the two rules outlined above, I have offered tips and guidelines throughout the week. I will post my own responses via Instagram, Twitter, and WordPress, and I will include daily tasks and bonus challenges for those of you who want more. If you are one of my followers on Instagram (@CurtisWritesBooks), I will occasionally add polls and questions for anyone to answer.


“STACK ATTACK”

DAY 0 – Snap a picture of a stack of books that you enjoy or you are choosing from.

Here’s a picture of a stack of books I am choosing from this week.

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I think I’m going for the Neil Gaiman book of short stories.

Let’s Connect!

What are you planning to read?

-Curtis

Instagram: @CurtisWritesBooks
Facebook: /curtisteichertbooks
Patreon: /CurtisWritesBooks
Twitter:   @staghorncrown
WordPress: PaperPalacesBlog.com
WP Daily Prompt: Bubble
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