Saturday, May 23, 2015

30-day Writing Streak Turns into a Year

Last year on May 18, I told myself I had to write for 30 days straight. I managed to do it for an entire year.

Why had I set that goal to begin with?

I had a writers’ conference in a month that I had paid for. It was an eight-hour drive away, and if I couldn't commit to write for 30 days in a row, I had no business investing money in my long-time dream to become published.

When I wrote for just seven days straight, I was ecstatic. I had never done that. Not even in college.

This writing-every-day commitment was more than my usual 5-year-short-diary entry. In that, I mimic what my Grandma Elizabeth and Mom did in theirs. It's a log of what we did, what I cooked, current event info, and the weather. Grandma included how many eggs she got, and Mom referred to work on the farm. I mention school events and Chris’ picture taking successes.

So I defined this writing every-single-day thing. To me in meant deliberate work on a passage in order to make it publishable. Some days I wrote a draft. Others, I revised—which by the way, is the most enjoyable part of writing for me, but that means my drafts are nasty typo-ridden pieces that get all marked up.

One of my many writing spots.
Here was my set-up for the SCBWI webinar with Elizabeth Law on May 2.

There were days that it was a battle, and some days I only wrote a couple sentences, but I still set the time aside to do it. It had gotten too late. I’d graded 50-some papers written by 12-year-olds. I didn’t know what to write about. But I did not want to break my steak, so I forced myself.

The worst and more dangerous excuse? This is a waste of time.

That thought came when I was tired or hungry. I noticed those negative thoughts during other work too, not just writing. It may be common sense to most people, but since I'd developed workaholic tendencies from my mom (click here to read about that), the realization was life-changing for me. It was okay to leave things undone and take care of physical needs.

I actually enjoyed my day job more because I had set aside time for my hobby. I was mentally prepared to return to work because my mind had actually left the place for awhile.

To make room in my schedule to write every day, I had to change some things. I watched less TV. I didn't talk on the phone as much. I didn't micromanage myself at work. I said no to other activities. I cooked bigger batches and fed my husband three days of leftovers instead of two.

I also kept a log with the following headings: date, study of the publishing world, what I wrote today, Damien work (my middle grade WIP about a boy with an imaginary elf on his right shoulder). Looking back at the log and celebrating small successes helped me forge ahead.

Considering this yourself? Click here for an encouraging list of writing memes. It was compiled by writer Linda W. Yezak, one of the first writers' blogs from which I drew encouragement.

This writing-every-day routine might not work for everyone. If you're the persistent type, it could. If the pressure of just one more thing, would do you in, then don't. Consider starting small like I wrote about here in the habit stacking post.

For many years I tried to establish a writing habit, but this write every-single-day thing worked for me. The timing was right, I guess, and I'd invested the money. I knew I needed to take action if I ever wanted my publishing dream to become reality. In the course of my study it, I’ve learned so much, but that’s for another post.

I do know that I will continue to write even if my WIP doesn’t see the light of day. I enjoy it that much.

Did I achieve what my original write-for-30-days-in-a-row commitment intended? You bet. Now the day isn't done unless I have written.


Have you tried doing something everyday? What were your results? Now that summer vacation has arrived, do you have any mid-year resolutions? What plans have you put in place for success?


2 comments:

  1. I'm so proud of you, Melodie! I've pretty much finished my WIP ... still editing it a tad bit. And now ... just sort of waiting for that next idea for the next project. That's always the most frustrating phase for me ... :) I want the idea, and I want it now. But I think it may be the Lord's way of forcing a break. :)

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    1. Thank, Shelli, for your encouragement! The Lord has slowed me down too helping me realize I need to learn the craft. I have a hard time coming up with the protagonist's goals and wants. I can write conflict and setting and scene after scene--but none of them really have a point. It takes me forever, so that's my frustrating part. Right now I'm taking a short story fundamentals class through Writers' Digest. It's done soon. (I always hit comment instead of reply on here, and then it looks like I may have deleted someone's comment when it's just my own!)

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