100 × 100

For 100 days I wrote and published a blog post that was 100 words long. This was all part of the 100 Days project running at Clearleft. It was by turns fun, annoying, rewarding, and tedious.

It feels nice to have 10,000 words written by the end of it even if many of those words were written in haste, without much originality and often without much enthusiasm. There were many evenings when I was already quite tired and then remembered that I had to bash out 100 words. On those occasions, it really felt like a chore, but then, that’s the whole point of the exercise—that you do it every day regardless of how motivated or not you feel on that day.

I missed the daily deadline once. I could make the excuse that it was a really late night of carousing, but I knew in advance that I was going to be out so I could’ve written my 100 words ahead of time—I didn’t.

My exercise of choice wasn’t too arduous. Some of the other Clearlefties picked far more ambitious tasks. Alas, many of them didn’t make it to the finish line, probably because they set their own bar so high. I knew that I wanted to do something that involved writing, and I picked the 100 words constraint simply because it sounded cute.

Lots of people reading my posts thought that 100 words was the upper limit in the same way that 140 characters is the upper limit on Twitter. But for me, the whole point of the exercise was that each post needed to be 100 words exactly. Now I kind of want to write a Twitter client that only lets you post tweets that are exactly 140 characters.

Writing a post that needed to be an exact number of words long was where the challenge lay, but it was also where the reward was found. It was frustrating to have to excise words or even whole sentences just to make the word count fit, but it was also very satisfying when the final post felt like a fully-formed thing.

I realised a few weeks into the project that the piece of software I was writing in (and relying on for an accurate word count) was counting hyphenated phrases as one word. So the phrase “dog-eat-dog world” was counted as two words, not four. I worried that maybe I had already published some posts that were over 100 words long. Later on, I tried to avoid hyphenating, or else I’d add in the hyphens after I had hit the 100 word point. In any case, there may be some discrepancy in the word count between the earlier posts and the later ones.

That’s the thing about an exercise that involves writing exactly 100 words; it leads to existential questions like “what is a word anyway?”

Some of the posts made heavy use of hyperlinks. I wondered whether this was cheating. But then I decided that, given the medium I was publishing on, it would be weird not to have any hyperlinks. And the pieces still stand on their own if you don’t follow any of the links.

Most of the posts used observations from that day for their subject matter—diary-like slices of life. But occasionally I’d put down some wider thought—like days 15, 73, 81, or 98. Still, I suspect it’s the slice-of-life daily updates that will be most interesting to read back on in years to come.

Have you published a response to this? :

Responses

davidpea.ch

I have been following jeremy’s 100 words in 100 days. Sometimes I would bulk read them and sometimes each day as it came out.

I didn’t realise until I heard the 110th episode of unfinished business that they were all exactly 100 words. I started my own 100 days project of writing each day but kept on forgetting and then went on holiday last week. Both very poor excuses.

I’m going to have a good think about a 100-day-long project for myself and this time stick to it.

And in 100 word spirit, I made this comment so.

# Friday, July 10th, 2015 at 8:05pm

cdevroe.com

Jeremy Keith wrote 100 words for 100 days July 3, 2015 What an amazing feat by Jeremy Keith: I missed the daily deadline once. I could make the excuse that it was a really late night of carousing, but I knew in advance that I was going to be out so I could’ve written my 100 words ahead of time—I didn’t. I didn’t go twelve days before missing my first day and here I am several weeks in having missed several days. I utterly failed. So I applaud Jeremy with a long, slow clap. I realised a few weeks into the project that the piece of software I was writing in (and relying on for an accurate word count) was counting hyphenated phrases as one word. So the phrase “dog-eat-dog world” was counted as two words, not four. On the Mac I was using the Evernote client to count the number of words my posts were. On iOS I had to use Simplenote since Evernote didn’t show word count there (ahem, Evernote team!). After writing a few posts on my iPad I realized that Simplenote was counting the title in with the post count. So there are a few that are off by 3 words. Oh well. Most of the posts used observations from that day for their subject matter—diary-like slices of life. I read every single post Jeremy wrote and I really enjoyed each one. Since I failed so miserably I may not continue to even try but, rather, move onto something far more different for me in my blogging. First, though, I need to reflect on why I failed so miserably at this simple task — given that I have written daily on my blog without issue several other times. The answer that comes to mind first is the issue of writing on weekends. I generally write on my computer. I seldom write on my blog using a mobile device or a tablet. Barley works great on these devices and I could have done so… but it simply isn’t what I do. Even if I was using a different application or service I still wouldn’t write on weekends. So I think I set myself up for failure. (Side note: I saw Jeremy would do anything to get his post up. So I have no excuse at all.) Either way (whether or not I continue) I think what Jeremy did was amazing. Kudos. #blogging #jeremy keith View all posts

# Monday, April 23rd, 2018 at 8:17pm