NaNo Rebel Challenge

In high school I really enjoyed doing challenges like C25K and NaNoWriMo with my close friends. However, in college I didn’t even attempt to do any due to the overwhelming school workload and also due to pet projects taking over my life. Now that I’ve graduated and I have much more free time, less stress and more mental space, I decided to hit up my old buddies (as well as some new ones) and take on some challenges once more.

How it Worked:

I invited my friends to pick a project, set strict goals, and work on it every day for the month of November, in the spirit of Nano Rebel. My project was working on my website for 1.5 hours every day. Website-polishing activities for me could include coding/fixing/looking up how to do things, polishing up old writing/articles, writing up articles I planned to write but never did, photoshop/design work for the site, etc.

My friends’ project were super diverse and ranged from board game design to piano playing to stand-up comedy writing to theology-reading. Initially, 14 people signed up, but a couple others joined in later.

With some encouragement on my end, participants each created a google doc outlining the nature of their challenge, their reasons for doing it, how they would go about quantifying their work, as well as some bulleted project notes to get them started. I created a discord server for the group and each person who submitted a proper plan got a channel devoted to their project where they could post updates and receive encouragement & feedback. Participants also received awards in the form of server roles for their achievements in the challenge (finishing days 1, 2 & 3; weeks 1, 2 & 3; completing the challenge).


6 people (including me) finished, about 2-4 people were super close to being finished with some continuing their challenge into december, several people got started but dropped out in the first week, and of course, a number of people never started.

What I was able to accomplish

  • fleshed out about section
  • significantly expanded research section
  • uploaded new articles, lectures, essays, etc
  • added comments sections with disqus
  • implemented a post tag system using yaml frontmatter
  • created related posts calculated by tags
  • when you click on the tag, it takes you to a tag page that has every other post with the tag in it
  • tag pages also have their own suggested related tags (tags that are co-present on posts)
  • tag pages are automatically generated with a python script (it’s a static site so i just run it locally if I upload any new posts, it’s not a client-side thing)
  • tag cloud
  • articles have (sort of) proper link previews (I have to go back and fix some of the metadata on specific articles tho)
  • lots of minor changes here and there that are hard to enumerate

…and finally…

  • the website is no longer sad and insecure about itself and is now routed through https:))


There’s a ton of stuff I still plan to do and a lot of the stuff I have isn’t perfect and needs a ton of fixing( I have a 7 page detailed bulleted list of future fixins), but I’ve made a giant leap of progress, learned a lot of stuff, and completed the challenge I set for myself :)

I started out only really knowing basic html and css but now I’ve gained some experience with liquid templating, javascript, and python as well. I’ve always wanted to learn to code but I could never really get into it because I didn’t have anything in particular that I wanted to code. With this project though, I had concrete issues to solve that were meaningful and important to me, and it motivated me to work hard and learn new things. It’s really boosted my confidence and willingness to dive into more serious coding projects.