I had been trying to write regularly.

A small thing, surely.

Show up, tap at keys, revel in glory.

But I couldn’t even show up. I’d done thirty day challenges and enjoyed the grand results they provided. They showed me that it was possible for me to show up, to learn quickly, to adapt and do something seemingly impossible.

I’d read a hundred thousand words on building habits, and I’d read another few thousand every time I tried to build the one I wanted the most – writing daily.

Plans would be drawn and possibilities considered. I’d think of what to do on the days I was tired, or sick, or bored, or didn’t have any idea of what to write. I’d establish for myself goals both small and large, with rewards for each.

I’d imagine what would happen once I’d reached those goals, how I’d have a blog with a hundred thousand hits a day and followers and comments and attention and all the brilliance that would come with it.

Then I’d start, work through the process for a week, or a month, and then, for some reason, I’d find myself remembering what it was like to have a habit, rather than actually having one.

But this year has been different, and I can very happily say:

I have written for a hundred consecutive days.

I did so without over-thinking it. There were no plans or goals or dreams of glory. I just simply did one thing: show up every day.

Through this simple little act I’ve managed to learn a few things about what works and what doesn’t, what to look out for, what to embrace, and what I should have done from day one.

1. Craft ≠ Ship (Writing ≠ Editing ≠ Publishing)

My biggest mistake during the last 100 days was to confuse Crafting with Shipping. Or in my case, to think that Writing was more important than Publishing (or even editing).

I wrote a lot and published little. I sent out a few newsletters (a dozen or so) and have had an article accepted by Smashing Magazine, but that’s it.

Whatever your widgets are, make sure you’re following them through to their natural ends. For me an article I’ve written isn’t something worth reading until it can be read. I write because I want to, first, explore an idea, and secondly, if that exploration was worthwhile, share it with others.

So via a small jump in logic, any widget that isn’t released isn’t worthwhile.

For me that means that if I want to consider something “Finished.” it needs to be “Published.”

2. Some Widgets Will Take Weeks, Others a Day

Some of the essays into which I place the most amount of pride took less than twenty minutes to write.

Others took weeks.

At first this bothered me – I wanted to believe that because I could write something I’m happy with in less than an hour, then I should be able to write everything worthy of pride in less than an hour.

It’s important to be ok with the fact that this simply won’t ever be the case.

It doesn’t mean that one is more valuable than the other, but both do have lessons in them.

If we can figure out why the quick-to-make widgets are so easy to put together, and why the ones take weeks take as long as they do, then we can begin to unravel the puzzle of how we work best.

3. Play with the Process (Word Count vs Time)

For the first couple of months I thought counting time was more valuable than counting words, so I would aim for a minimum of 25 minutes of daily writing.

But it became a crutch. I’d think it fine to write a paragraph and sit there for another 24 minutes. This made my time less valuable as I wasn’t doing anything, so I considered my efforts worthless.

About two months in I switched my metric. Instead of counting minutes, I started to count words, aiming for a minimum of 500 a day.

Some days it’d take me five minutes; other days it’d take an hour. This means every writing session feels different and plays a different role in my day.

While I’d previously have days in which a hundred words was a struggle to write in 25 minutes, I can now happily write 500 days a word without any stress. Some days I’m so energized that I happily write over 2,000.

The person we are when we start a daily habit and the person we become as we work through it are vastly different. Don’t expect that what does (and doesn’t) work for you on day one will be valued the same by day 20, 30, 100, or beyond.

4. Showing up Daily is Easier than Showing Up for 30

This was quite a surprise.

When I’ve done 30 Day Challenges in the past, I’ve counted every single day.

Every day felt like a small battle. Even though I loved what I was doing, it was still part of a bigger war, one that I couldn’t shake from my mind.

But when showing up daily, with no end in sight, it became as part of my day as eating a meal. There was no point in assigning to it any more novelty than this as it was to be as common, and what becomes common becomes barely worth mention.

So, somehow, I downplayed the challenge. I didn’t count the days as regularly (sometimes going many days without changing the count I was tallying), and eventually forgot that the days were something worth counting.

“Just show up” is a lot easier to tell myself than “show up for a month”. Before long those days added up to a hundred.

4B. Showing up Daily is Easier than Showing Up Weekly

Daily is easier than weekly. Weekly is an oddity to your routine, but showing up daily becomes part of your routine.

No little event needs to be moved around to fit in your habit because all events must fit around it.

5. It Will (Sometimes) Be Tough

I promise when you’re making things everyday, there will be days that are simply tough.

You will feel empty, burnt out, tired, talentless, washed up. There’s no avoiding it, and sometimes that’s a good thing.

It’s a sign that you either need to recharge, that you’re empty and need to fill up on inspiring creative works, or you’re reaching the edge of your ability.
Whatever the case, don’t use it as an excuse to not show up. If you miss even a few days to “get back to normal”, you might not return.

The last thing you want to teach yourself is that when things are hard, it’s time to stop.

Fund a bit if time in your day to get some extra sleep, to look at beautiful work, or do some research that will help you make it to the next level.

6. It Will Feel Great, Then Awful, Then Great

One day will have you feeling like you’re king of the mountain, and the next will feel like you’re buried under it.

But no matter how many bad days you have, over the long run the average will be overwhelmingly positive.

That’s what we have to remind ourselves when we’re going through the rough patches – that they’re patches. They’re the result of having a taste that evolves at a different rate than our talents, of having a mental bucket of inspiration that runs dry and needs a refill, of simply being tired.

The days that feel awful are hints that we need to look at what we’re doing differently. This could mean looking after ourselves physically, mentally, or emotionally.

Or it could be the widget we’re working on – some of my rough days were simply the result of asking the wrong question through what I was writing.

A different angle or perspective, or a more worthwhile question, would quickly get me out of my writing funk.

7. You Can Do More Than You Realise

I can say without a doubt that there are more ideas, more knowledge, more topics, more avenues to explore in your mind than you realise.

When people worry that they haven’t enough ideas for a daily challenge, they confuse the real bottleneck. It’s not their ability to develop ideas that troubles them, but allowing them to boil to the surface.

Learning how to develop and make practical the ideas you have is the real challenge, but showing up daily teaches you how to give them body and life.

8. So Much Content, So Many Widgets

It won’t seem like much at first, but showing up and making something everyday will add up very quickly. Whether it’s little shots for Dribbble, or 500 words a day, before long you’ll have a body of work behind you.

This has been an incredibly pleasant surprise and has shown me that I might be able to produce as much content as I imagined before I started (the dream week: a newsletter, an essay for the site, substantial work towards feature articles or eBooks for Retinart, and a guest post or two).

A body of work also gives you the opportunity to see your creative and technical growth. This is gold if you’re an autodidact (and if you’re a designer, developer, or writer you are by default), as it will help highlight what you’re good at and what needs work.

9. Advice Starts to Sharpen

It’s so easy to fall into the habit of reading articles on your craft and think that’s enough to make you better.

But much of the advice is meaningless when you haven’t the context of actual work to put it into. Chances are much of what will be read will either be misunderstood, skimmed over, and have you get bogged down in the gristle of the thing, rather than being able to slice through the meat and find the choice cuts of advice.

In other words, it’s hard to know what’s worth knowing, or even worse, how to apply what is.

Working daily fixes this as it provides context. The advice and theory is no longer blurry or abstract. It’s crystal clear advice you can take away and start using instantly.

A Better Version of Us

The difference between 99 days and 100 is more or less the same as between 98 days and 99. We know that intellectually, but there’s an emotional leap that happens when we can say we did something for 100 Days. We’ve turned it into a culturally significant number.

And that’s what will happen. You will have achieved something significant when you’ve done something seemingly insignificant for a hundred days.

But as 101 isn’t much different from 100, it’s important to realise that these are just numbers. The real value isn’t some arbitrary unit of measure, but the fact that it shows seriousness.

It shows a dedication to your craft that mere words and suggestion doesn’t. It shows dedication, it shows that no matter what happens in your day, no matter how little sleep you get, how sick you are, how much there is to do, how many friends there are to see, how many glasses of wine there are to drink, you will show up.

Writing for 100 days has shown me that I can show up for 100 days. That it’s not only possible, but worthwhile. It shows me that I can show up for a hundred more, and after that another hundred.

Somewhere along the way we’ll find ourselves in a completely different place, intellectually and maybe even professionally, than we did a hundred days before we started.

What showing up for a hundred days teaches us


  1. Crafting a widget isn’t the same as shipping it
  2. Some widgets will take weeks, others will take days, and that’s ok, it’s not a judgement on their quality or our ability.
  3. The process we use to make our widgets should always be tested
  4. Showing up every day for a hundred days is way easier than showing up once a week, or even showing up daily for a month.
  5. Things getting tough tough, it’s just a warning that we’re missing out on something, but you’ll be fine.
  6. It’s going to feel awful, but not nearly as often as it’ll feel awesome.
  7. You know and can do way more than you realise. Coming up with ideas isn’t hard, it’s letting them bubble to the surface that we need to learn.
  8. You will have more widgets than you will know what to do with.
  9. The advice we are given will start to make a lot more sense.

I’m hoping that I will be able to spend another hundred days honing this craft. I’m tempted to set myself a goal for the next milestone of 200 days. But that’d suggest I have an inkling of what’s to come.

I might find that my skills and understanding of how to tell a story and offer a bit of advice improve ten fold, or I might be disappointed to realise that the next hundred days of work won’t be a hundred days of development.

Either way I’ll show up, because showing up to get better at a craft that I love is becoming who I am. Showing up everyday is the version of me that I like, the version of me I respect.

What version of you do you want to be for the next hundred days?