How it all began.............
Mark Watsons Blog:
Ten-Year Self-Improvement Challenge
February 26, 2010 256 comments
I mentioned a few days ago that I was toying with the idea of doing something with this blog which would, in some way, recapture the ‘spirit’ of the 24-hour shows. In those shows, as you might remember, we often used to set ourselves enormous challenges, either as a collective or individually, and try to achieve them over the day. To take a few examples of 24-hour show challenges: we transformed someone into a pop star, with a new haircut, MySpace page, agent and single; we successfully sent an audience member to France and back; we lured the Mayor of Melbourne to come and see us after 18 hours of campaigning; we captured Sir Timothy West and Les Dennis; I learned to ride a bike (sort of) and proposed to my girlfriend, now my wife. And that’s just a few examples. In all fairness I did have a lot of time to fill.
The collective achievement of strange, sometimes pointless goals was always my favourite aspect of the 24-hour shows, along with Adam Hills ordering us pizzas, so I’ve been wondering if can somehow recapture some of this, while not actually doing a 24-hour show, since I swore last year’s would be the final instalment, and I don’t want to be one of these tedious buggers who stage a huge farewell and then keep returning to their career like a dog to its own vomit. At least, not yet.
I then thought about a couple of interactive projects I’ve done: the writing-a-novel-together show I did at Edinburgh 2006 (which was fun, but never got finished, because it was a ridiculous thing to attempt), and the environmental blog-project Crap At The Environment from 2007. That, again, was a pretty flawed idea, not at least because it was hosted on MySpace, which dates it to an era when for some reason we all took orders from a man called Tom. But, again, I got a kick out of setting challenges and having people encourage each other to do them, and writing it up. And I did end up making small improvements to my lifestyle as a result of it. And so did about six other people.
Yep. I think I’m a sort of benevolent dictator in the making.
So, given that I’ve (rashly) decided to write this blog for the next ten years, and quite a number of people are kindly bothering to read it every day – for the time being, anyway – I’m going to try to start a new project. I call it the Ten Year Self Improvement Challenge, or TYSIC, which sounds pleasingly like something invented by scientists in a 60s movie.
It’s as simple as this: you nominate something which, over the next ten years, you would like to accomplish in your life. It could be an aspect of your personality you would like to change (mine is – more of that tomorrow). Or it could be something quite specific, like learning to drive. Or it could be something really stupid. But you have to genuinely want to do it.
What I propose to do is invite anyone who wants to, to make some kind of resolution or challenge or goal for themselves, over the next few days. Ideally you should leave it as a comment here, but if you’re not keen to identify yourself you can send me a tweet or something and I’ll give you an assumed name (although you can only use this in the context of the Challenge – not, say, in a court of law).
I’m planning to start TYSIC officially on March 4th. No particular reason for this date, but it’s a week off, and hey, it’s Patsy Kensit’s birthday. After that date, we will all begin trying to accomplish whatever we set out to do. Every week – or month, depends how well it goes – or year, if nobody gives a shit about this idea – but hopefully week – I will ask everyone to sum up their progress via comments on the blog and then publish a newsletter of the most interesting/bizarre/heroically failed/perverse/illegal achievements. Perhaps I will have a monthly prize and so on. An annual meeting of participants. That kind of thing.
I won’t use anything anyone writes in any of my live shows – unless they want me to – and unlike Crap At The Environment, I very much doubt this will be a Danny Wallace-style book one day. It’s just for the fun of it, and for the experiment, and for the sheer joy of beginning a story which unfolds over an enormously long time. So, again, like the 24-hour shows.
My own resolution, in short, is to become an optimist. I have a two-day-old son and it seems as good a time as any to conquer the essential negativity that has dogged my entire life. I’ll be outlining this in more detail tomorrow. But you don’t have to choose anything so grandiose, or anything that will occupy the entire decade. You could do something very small, cross it off, start something else. You can approach this any way you like. Or you can absolutely ignore this. It won’t be too embarrassing if nobody does it, because I’m still going to do mine. It’s like when you have a party, but have a couple of friends arrive early in the evening in case nobody else does.
The closing date for resolutions is in theory March 3rd – of course anyone can join in at any time, but as with the marathon shows, the most fun will be had by people who do the whole thing.
And the project will end on March 4th 2020. On the 5th we will all go on holiday together. Good.