Don't carry on folks. Plenty of things to see here!

The latest “official” round of the Continuous Creation Challenge is over and you'll want to hear all about it. Official is in quotes because there's no sanctioned start or end period for the challenge and no “right” way to do it either.

But I wanted to recap a 120 hour period between September 9th and September 14th since a number of folks joined me for the challenge.

Although this isn't everyone's story or a full version of any of them, here are some of the highlights, lowlights, and unexpected outcomes of our challenge.

The Highs

Continuous Creation Challenge

Many of you want to hear about my experiences and we'll get to that in a moment. But the challenge isn't about me. I just created the framework so other people could use it for clarity and some amazing results of their own.

First up, let's have a look at what Jane Robinson was up to. I'll update this with a link to her blog post recapping more once it's available.

The Artist Creates

Taking some sections of an email she sent me, Jane said:

I loooved this challenge! I painted, painted, and then painted some more. I photographed my work and uploaded to my art website. I began my eBook and made incredible progress.

I walked my dog in the country every day, went to yoga, and really tried to let go of trying to figure out everything. I did have an ‘ah ha!' moment when I realized that I needed to focus on what I love doing (making abstract art) and not try to fit in some other box (art journaling). I decided to paint what my soul wants and write about creativity. The challenge was a very clarifying event.

What a true luxury it was to focus completely on creating! I did eat but one meal per day. I listened to music but also enjoyed long periods of silence while creating. In the end it was a great experience.”

Well that certainly sounds nice! Way to fully embrace and rock your own version of the challenge Jane!

A Happier Human Creates

Amit Amin of Happier Human had a more nuanced experience. Let's start with some highlights from an email he sent me:

“I was super productive (and happier than average) on Monday and Tuesday. If I can make every workday like that… Well even if I can't, I can certainly try to come close. On Monday and Tuesday I wrote 12 research reviews. For me, this is impressive as research is a tiring beast.”

Amit was off to a blazing start, but we'll explore some of his struggles in a moment.

The Experimenter Creates

My turn I guess.

You can dive into the stats below, but at a high level, this was pretty workmanlike. By that I mean it lacked the personal pizzazz of the first time I did the challenge in April.

I knew what to expect (more or less) and executed the planning perfectly. Everyone who was potentially impacted knew what to expect from me and all the logistical loose ends were tied up nicely. I had my giant list of things to create ready to just check off one-by-one.

And most of them came off the list. Podcasts, videos, written articles, long walks with the dogs, handmade cards, yoga, and project plan for my upcoming product…Check!

But by the end of day 4, I had a strong urge to cheat on my “Not Allowed” list, especially the one about no reading. However, I stayed strong and didn't consume anything…with one exception. I'll cover that in the lowlights.

Overall, the experience was another awesome one! There was so much great stuff I cranked out and the quality of it all really makes me proud. I gotta say, I'm so grateful that I have a life, family, business, and support system that allows me to do something like this for five days. That's a long time to ignore the world and ask it to leave you alone!

If anything, this renews my commitment to focus my resources on creating value to help others instead of consuming things that only help me.

The Lows

Continuous Creation Challenge

Sometimes a big or new challenge isn't all sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows. Like when you experience this.

A Happier Human Experienced

Amit had a tough time with the challenge and came to some startling conclusions. He alluded to some of them in his comment on the Community Craziness, Experience, and Insight article, but here's a more detailed look. He's given me permission to share this with you.

“My original intention was to fast Monday to Wednesday and focus on writing research reviews. Then Thursday and Friday I'd resume eating and focus on blog and product content.

But basically, I realized that I'm an addict. That I have much less free-will than I assumed.

I frequently check Facebook, my email, Wikipedia, and news sites as a sort of mental break between work sessions. But on self-reflection, none of these activities actually recharge my mental battery, make me happy, or provide instrumental benefit. I check and read because I'm addicted, not because I'm trying to improve my life. On the other hand, meditating, going for a walk, laughing, calling a friend, and listening to music actually recharges my mental battery.

I didn't realize just how addicted I was – every hour or so I felt an impulse to consume. Fighting that impulse, over and over again, slowly drained my willpower. When my willpower finally ran out on Tuesday night, I ended up accidently reading a book (my version of TV) until 8 in the morning.”

Joel's note: It's not all bad. Here's what Amit's going to do as a result of this.

“Armed with this self-knowledge, I have begun the gradual process of eliminating these addictions. I am now counting the number of times I go on certain websites each day, as well as total time spent. I haven't set any hard goals yet – small, gradual improvements are OK with me.”

The Experimenter Experienced

My only lowlight was that I couldn't fast for 120 hours.

I actually only made it 48. And this after breezing through 72 hours of fasting in my original Continuous Creation Challenge!

My stomach was so frickin' mad at me that its revolt threatened to end the challenge early. As I gave the beast what it wanted, I was very disappointed. But it needed to happen. Breaking one rule so I could uphold the rest of them was the right move, regardless of how it made me feel in the moment.

I was able to resume the fast for 36 hours until I had another eating breakdown to see me through to the end. So if you're counting at home, I ate the equivalent of three meals in 30 minutes during those 120 hours.

On the bright side, there was no uncontrollable shaking or a night with one hour of sleep this time.

The Stats


I don't have stats from other folks right now, so I'll just provide mine as an example of what five days of non-stop creating can do.

  • 3 homemade birthday cards
  • 1 hour of yoga-inspired peace
  • 6 hours of walking with the dogs
  • 1 float tank recap video (coming October 4th) and an almost completed screencast video of VLC Media Player.
  • 2 full podcasts, one on curating and the other coming October 15th about education
  • 8 future articles written for Value of Simple
  • 3 hours of focused listening while Melinda talked during dinner. Note: It's amazing how much you can focus on other people and your surroundings when you're not consumed with your own world.
  • 5 hours of story time and play time with Grant
  • 37 hours of quality sleep
  • 1 major portion of my project plan for my upcoming product

Damn that was a lot! It's over a month's worth of content for Value of Simple and yet, there was still a ton left on the list. Hooray for accomplishments and plenty of ambitious things left to do.

So Whatcha Gonna Do?

If you read this far, you're interested in the Continuous Creation Challenge.

So whatcha gonna do now?

As the goal is to have 100,000 people do their own challenge, here are some suggestions:

  • Start planning right now to do your own challenge
  • Share this article through social media, email, or Morse code so we can get people creating more and consuming less
  • Leave a comment about what you've read here, in the Community Craziness, Experience, and Insight article, or the announcement article
  • Contact me about what resources you need to get over the obstacles in cranking this up (e.g. planning, execution, how to get everyone to think you're not totally crazy)
  • Please contact that person you know at a media outlet and recommend they interview me about the Continuous Creation Challenge

Enjoy the next months' worth of content via Value of Simple folks! And remember:

Start consuming less and creating more!

Photo credit: Sean MacEntee