On June 1, 2018, along with many fellow writers, I started my stint on ThePickyGamer’s SixTAY Days of Writing Challenge, with the goal of posting one article every day up to July 30. Somehow, I made it happen! For posterity’s sake, here is a commemorative post, with the whole catalog of articles, along with some stats and observations.

First up, everything written during the challenge!

Week 1: June 1 - June 7

Week 2: June 8 - June 14

Week 3: June 15 - 21

Week 4: June 22 - June 28

Week 5: June 29 - July 5

Week 6: July 6 - July 12

Week 7: July 13 - July 19

Week 8: July 20 - July 26

Week 9: July 27 - July 30

There it is! Sixty days, sixty articles! I’m still finding it hard to believe that I was able to actually make this happen. And with all of that done, the week that I’ve spent not posting a damn thing has been such a relief.

There was actually one other post I wish to highlight as well. It doesn’t count as part of the challenge, but because it went up May 31, right before the first day of the challenge, it’s getting an honorable mention, because it meant that I had actually posted for 61 consecutive days. So for the extra shout-out: Bask in the Absurdity of the Official Musical Tribute to Scorpion


Now to get to the most pressing question, now that it’s all said and done: How did I do? Not just whether I did sixty posts in sixty days—that is the most boring criteria—but what I had to show in terms of the posts themselves. To that end, I’ve been plopping numbers and formulas into Excel, so hopefully that will help to illuminate some things.

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There are several ways to judge performance. The first thing I’m interested in is, what kinds of posts did I end up making? To analyze that, I went back through the posts and categorized them according to subject matter. In the broadest terms, same as I when looked at them last time, here’s what I did.

  • 44 Articles
  • 16 Loved Trax Posts

Loved Trax Posts are my pieces of writing that are a part of my recurring series on music. Articles, on the other hand, are everything else, including writing on games, anime, movies, and so on and so forth.

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Before the challenge, the vast majority of what I had been writing was for the Loved Trax series. I was not exactly happy with getting myself into that kind of a groove, just coasting by on the easiest type of output to produce. Thus, one of the motivations was to get back into writing about more than just that on the regular. Even after doubling the Loved Trax posts from once a week to twice, I believe I managed that quite well.

To farther break down the kinds of subjects I had been writing about for those 44 articles, here’s what I tallied.

  • 18 articles about games
  • 8 articles about anime
  • 3 articles about E3
  • 3 articles about gaming culture
  • 2 articles about movies
  • 2 articles about thumbnail creation
  • 1 snack review
  • 2 articles about being an online denizen
  • 2 articles about general life stuff
  • 3 articles about the SixTAY Days of Writing challenge

I think that’s a pretty good mix of topics! Writing about video games on this video game-focused blog is in good form, so the fact that half of the articles I wrote had to do with gaming in some capacity especially makes me glad. Furthermore, the likes of anime, movies, Being Online, and even snacks (thanks Mike Fahey!) are also arguably enough within the realm of reasonable satellite topics for TAY.

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There were still cases where I was stretching things a bit, though. Challenge posts about the challenge are probably the most egregious cases, but talking about life overall might also fit the bill, as does that pair of how-to posts on aspects of making thumbnails. Still, that only accounts for 7 articles out of 44; I can gladly accept that trade-off in the name of getting to the full 60 posts.

My biggest goal, however, had to do with word count management. As I stated in my comment about accepting the challenge, I’ve really needed to force myself to not write such long-winded articles, and taking on the sixty-posts-over-sixty-days grind could hopefully be a way to make myself cut back out of necessity. Thus, with the challenge all done, did I actually do well in that regard?

To answer that, I copied the contents of each of the 44 articles—Loved Trax posts being considered separately; they were never my problem—posted them into Microsoft Word, took note of the calculated word count per article, and then plopped all those counts into Excel. With some formulas, I was able to then do all sorts of calculations. It all ended up looking something like this.

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The most central question: How does my mean word count per article during the challenge compare to the mean word count before the challenge? Stealing some work that I did during my first data review, this was the mean word count for the 6 articles that I had written before the challenge.

  • 1551 words per article

The mean word count for the 44 articles written during the challenge, on the other hand, was as follows.

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  • 845.75 words per article

A whopping ~45.47% reduction in the mean word count during the challenge, when compared to what I was doing before the challenge. This is, without question, a huge improvement.

It’s not like every day kept around that baseline—peep the plus-2500 words on the fourth Tuesday—but all those under-1000 word counts is a feast for my eyes. If could keep up such an overall level of effort, I might very well have the energy and motivation to actually keep up a consistent posting schedule for articles. Since I also won’t have to worry about putting something up every day anymore, this will hopefully mean good things for the weeks and months ahead!

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Here, have some more fun charts. This first one is a line graph tracking the day-to-day word counts for all of the 44 articles.

It’s interesting laying it all out like this, getting to observe the ebb-and-flow between the days when I put up the most involved articles and the times when I was essentially decompressing with easier workloads. I could also see this when taking a look at the mean word counts for each weekday. For example, Sundays and Tuesdays—with 1034.13 and 1031.75 words per article respectively—were apparently the days when I tended to put up the longest stuff, while Wednesdays, with 668.25 words per article, were when I put up the shortest stuff.

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Sundays definitely make sense for the longest articles, being one of my two days off from work, and therefore falling right within the zone where I could afford to be the most productive. And Wednesdays also make sense as where the shortest articles were made, being the hump day of the week and all that.

Here’s another chart, a bar graph comparing the mean words per article before taking on the challenge to the mean words per article during the challenge, along with a week-by-week breakdown of my average output for each of the Inine weeks.

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Wow, I really fell off during that eighth week, i.e. the last full week of the challenge, didn’t I?

Probably the most important thing at the end of the day, however, isn’t necessarily how much I wrote, but rather how good I felt everything was. How proud am I of what I put out?

The 16 Loved Trax posts are what they have always been, and I am pretty much always happy with them at this point, so those aren’t what I am most interested in. Instead, I want to evaluate based on the 44 other articles.

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After going back through what I wrote, out of those 44 articles, I am proud of how 38 of them came out. That could be considered an 86.36% success rate.

Maybe we could also look at this in terms of word counts, though. How many words went toward articles that I ended up happy with? In total, I wrote 37123 words total over the span of 44 articles, and when it comes to the 38 articles I am proud of, they got 34091 of those words. Therefore, we could look at this as an effort quality rating of 91.61%.

It would have been nice to be able to say that I put out quality work every single time, but for various reasons—many of them tied to the rigors of balancing the challenge with everything else going on in life—that didn’t quite happen. Maybe next time? For right now, however, those are numbers that I can be satisfied with.

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For the record, here are the 6 articles that I wasn’t so proud of.

  • A Little Data Review of My Article Output Throughout the SixTAY Days of Writing Challenge, for being an article about my past articles
  • The Bad-at-Art Blues, for being a filler article about an article-in-progress
  • Gee, It Sure Was a Good Thing I Put THAT on the Internet!!! for being a piece of total filler during a day when I was mentally shot
  • Scattered Feelings on the Officially Sanctioned Street Fighter Character Popularity Poll, for being an aimless stream of consciousness
  • Everything Else Simply Took Higher Priority Today, for being a last-minute filler article about the writing challenge
  • AniTAY Has Made It, for being a shallow, insubstantially written piece; that last full week of the challenge really tested me, yo

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These are all things that I can hopefully avoid now that I won’t have to write with a challenge-based quota in mind. Even with most of those, however, I can at least say that I still tried my best to include some modicum of a good idea worth writing about. The very worst bits of writing in my estimation—the Street Fighter and Food Wars! pieces—were the ones where I couldn’t even manage that modest goal.

On the flip side, how about the articles which I was most proud of writing? Well, there is one Loved Trax post that does warrant mention in that regard, about the CHVRCHES cover of the Arctic Monkey’s “Do I Wanna Know?”, and that is entirely because it inspired a comment thread where someone related the personal significance of Forza Horizon 3 and “Get Out” to them and their late friend. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I’ve been appreciating that song a whole lot more since then.

As for the articles I was most proud of, here are my Top Five.

  • Number 5 is The Lengths I Took to Get Rock Band 3 as a Birthday Present, for being a fun and personal trip down college memory lane
  • Number 4 is Thirteen Figures Deep Into Girls und Panzer, for not just being a photo gallery, but also encompassing the multitudes of life behind all those figures
  • Number 3 is Being Captivated by Competitive Command & Conquer 3, for being a good piece about my sea change about C&C’s competitive prospects, and the reception that it got in the comments
  • Number 2 is Thinking Up Something Marginally Better Than a Single-Number Judgment for an Aggregate of Reviews, my longest article for the challenge by far, for being a deep geeky dive that hopefully serves as solid food for thought
  • Number 1 is The Life and Etymology of an Online Username, not just for being what I think may honestly be among my best pieces of writing ever, but also for the responses it inspired from everybody else as to the stories behind their own username(s)

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And that finally about covers it all. The SixTAY Days of Writing Challenge was rough at plenty a time, but it was also often fun, not just to participate in but also see what excellent stuff everyone else was putting out. This gauntlet also proved to be eye-opening as far as how far my capabilities could be stretched when forced on a daily schedule, and the range of topics that I could be writing about if I were to give myself permission to deem them worth my time. Overall, this was absolutely worth the commitment.

As for where I go from here? Well, with this commemorative post done, I can officially consider the SixTAY Days of Writing Challenge closed and behind me once and for all. From this point onward, I’m hoping to get back into writing on TAY on the regular. Loved Trax posts each Thursday will still happen as per usual, but I also want to mix in plenty of articles on other things, maybe even equally as much as the music writing if at all possible.

Hopefully, the habits and lessons that I adopted during this challenge—less words and more conciseness in how I lay out my thoughts, letting myself embrace a much greater pool of topics as being worth writing about, accepting that taking on articles that are smaller in scale is still thoroughly worthwhile, how to better respect my limited time throughout the day—will inform my work. Let’s see how this goes!