Putting it Together – The Friend a Day Project is Half Done
I decided to steal the Friend a Day project from Levi Weinhagen fifty days ago. My commitment was to write about 100 friends over 100 days. I’ve reached the halfway mark and it has been such a positive experience so I thought this week I’d talk about the impact it has had on me as a writer.
I have some definite rules about the project. I need to write about 300 – 350 words about each friend. The post must be 100% positive. No backhanded complements allowed. Not even about Mark Lazarchic. If people comment on the post with a backhanded compliment, that’s fine but I will remain positive. This is about doing something nice for someone, not about looking for the opportunity to make fun of them.
If the person is part of a couple, I try to avoid writing about them as a couple. Everyone has their own identity and I’m trying to recognize that identity. Their appearance is irrelevant so I don’t mention it.
While the posts are all about who those people are to me, I try very hard to remain focused on them. If I’m telling a story about our time together, I want to make sure that the story is about something they did that impressed me.
The number of people I write about is arbitrary. I have hundreds of friends and I’m only writing about 100. Part of that is because the commitment of writing that 300 word post is a lot of work and I don’t want it to go on forever.
Additionally, however, is the fact that we all have only so many close friends. At some point, I find myself writing about someone I like but I don’t always know that well. I don’t want to make things up. That means I really have to look at that person to figure out why I like them. I need to remember stories about them.
That angle takes a lot of work. It is tremendously rewarding because when you take the time to figure out why you like someone, you tend to like them more than you did before.
While this project has certainly benefitted me as a writer, I think that the true benefit is as a person. When I spend time with people these days, I tend to think about what makes them a good person and ignore the things that annoy me. Everyone is a mixture of good and bad traits but with almost everyone, the good outweighs the bad. So why focus on the bad?
As a writer, it has focused me on finding new ways to say things. I don’t want every one of these posts to sound the same. I want them to be personalized. I don’t want every paragraph to start with the person’s first name. I want the reader to feel like I’m writing about the person they know and not some vague impression of that person.
It has also forced me to abandon the cynical edge that I have in a lot of my writing. I’m not ashamed of that edge in my writing but there are times when it is not needed. Teaching myself to write without that edge will help me put a different voice into a work when that cynical voice is not required.
I’ve had people ask me if they can do the same thing when I’m done and the answer is yes. This wasn’t my idea. I stole it (with permission) from someone else. The idea is too good to stop with one or two people. The world can be a cynical, ugly place. Writing nice things about people is one small way to make it a little less cynical and a little less ugly.
So please steal away. You don’t have to wait for me to finish. I’d love to spend every morning reading five or ten friend a day posts from different people.
The response has been completely positive. I hear from almost every person about whom I’ve written. Some just say thank you, some have written blog posts about their response to what I’ve said, I even got a thank you card! It’s all great because the goal is to make someone’s day by letting them know that someone else noticed how awesome they are.
So thanks for reading, if you are. Thanks for being my friends and if you decide to do this yourself, thanks for helping me make the internet a little bit friendlier for a few minutes every day.