Good morning and Happy New Year, creative people! I’m excited for the new journey that is 2017, as well as committing to getting more writing done. I got a page-a-day 2017 calendar for Christmas, so I thought it might be fun to make an origami something for every day that I write. I’m committed to having 365 paper cranes (or whatever) to throw into the air next New Year.
The Community over at seanwes (you’ve heard me talk about them before) is going through a writing course together. I had gone through the free 30 Days to Better Writing course when it launched last year, but am excited to go through it again with some accountability from some really great people.
I invite you to challenge yourself along with me. I probably won’t share every day, but I wanted to put this out there as a kick in the pants for a new year of showing up and doing work consistently. Gotta keep the chain going!
30DTBW: Day 1
I had made a habit of writing daily for a couple of years, but have fallen off the wagon in past months. When I saw that the Community would be going through the course together, I thought starting the new year going through it with accountability was a good jumping off point to get my habit back on track. I need to be very intentional about writing every day, and a lot. I have a ton of work that I want to accomplish this year and can’t let anything get in the way of my motivation. I can’t get distracted, I can’t make excuses for myself, and I can’t let circumstances or discouragement keep my word count down. I made a public commitment to write a series of books. I’m dying to write and illustrate them, but I can’t illustrate what isn’t written. Having a binder of notes on my desk is not writing. Intending to outline isn’t writing. Telling others that I’m going to write books isn’t writing. I need to get words on the page. I need to write thousands and thousands of words. The fun part will come when I get down and dirty and do the work.
What are 3 ways you think writing will benefit you?
- It will help me accomplish my primary passion, which is to write a series of books normalizing the ideas of the Great Books of Western civilization for a young audience. This is something I need to be transparent about and start talking about (even though that’s something very uncomfortable for me) if I’m going to commit to actually getting it done. Research and study and reading and bouncing ideas off of people much smarter than myself will also be a huge part of the first stages of this project, but they don’t mean anything if I’m not putting words on the page. I need to write an awful lot of content before I can start editing and shaping it into the form of a publishable book.
- I know from experience that writing helps me cope with depression and anxiety. It is my reflection time. I fell off the writing wagon for a good portion of December, and I could see a huge difference. I was irritable. I was more impatient. I was missing out on that first-thing-in-the-morning therapy session to clear my head and focus my heart. As an introvert, I desperately need this time of reflection and focus and “me time.” I had been doing a lot of extroverting without taking time to reflect and recharge, and it was taking a toll on me big time. My husband was also laid off in November, so with him being home all of the time it was more difficult for me to get any time to myself. Writing helps me articulate those things that are weighing on my mind. I can leave them on the page and go forward with my day without those things still rattling around in my brain. I was leaving these thoughts in my brain, and they were becoming heavy.
- If there’s one skill in the world I want to hone the most (out of way too many things I’d love to be good at), it’s writing. I have many interests, but the thing I truly want to be in life is a writer. So it’s crucial that I practice this skill every single day without fail. I can’t call myself a writer if it’s not something I do obsessively. Writing is a muscle I need to flex more than any other creative muscle because it’s the thing I care about most. The more I do it, the more I’ll love it. The more I love it, the more of a priority it will be in my life. The more priority I give it, the more likely I am to keep going and succeed. It’s the thing I want to build momentum with, and I build momentum by doing, by writing a lot, by showing up every day.
What are you afraid of when it comes to writing?*
I’m afraid of my writing being useless. Brain dumps are therapeutic, but I feel the pressure to make things that have purpose. When I write, I want it to help someone. I want my words to be part of a greater whole. I don’t want them to sit silently in a long string of meaningless journal entries.
On the other side of that coin, if I write something that is intended to be shared, there is a ton of vulnerability in sharing those words. Will people get what I’m putting out there? What if I’ve been too vulnerable and transparent and the wrong person sees it and judges me for it? What if no one sees it and I’ve done all that work and poured out my heart for nothing? If I’m putting myself out there as someone who’s passionate about writing, there’s the expectation that I shouldn’t completely suck at it. If I’m projecting myself as something, there’s the pressure to be competent.
*These unfounded fears are exactly the reason I write this blog. There are thousands of ways that Resistance sneaks into our brains and makes us believe that our work is meaningless. Mind over matter, friends! Show up and do the work so the Muse can get stronger than these stupid little fears that try to trip us up and keep us from going further up and further in.
What sacrifices will you have to make in order to carve out half an hour a day for writing?
The only thing really required of me is to be more disciplined and focused. I already am in the habit of waking up at 4am to write (now I couldn’t get up later if I tried). I get up, shower, get dressed for work, make a cup of coffee, then sit at my desk. I usually have 30-45 minutes of writing time before I have to leave for work. The temptation is to fill that time with other things I need to get done. I very often fill that time with other tasks, and that’s something I need to get out of the habit of doing. Those things need to go on a to-do list for later on in the day. The chunk of time between 4:30 and 5:30 a.m. is non-negotiable writing time. It may be necessary to set aside a chunk of time after I get home from work to see that those things get checked off the list so I’m not tempted to carry them into my writing time.
What are you doing to encourage your creative momentum this year? In what ways are you committing to showing up every day? What do you look forward to saying you’ve accomplished by the end of 2017?