Focused Living, One Month at a Time

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Challenge #7, January 2012: WRITING AWAY

I will write for myself  for at least 30 minutes a day (on average) AND I will launch my blog about this project by the end of the month!

"Planning to write is not writing. Outlining…researching…talking to people about what you're doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing." -E.L. Doctorow

Tap Tap Tapping away right now, or rather write now – putting in the time and rediscovering my love for creating and expressing some of my numerous thoughts through writing, it has been way too long since I have done this regularly.  The process has only been sporadic in the past several years, either through occasional entries in a stream of consciousness journal, or a poem here or there, or a letter to a friend or family member.   I miss the regular weekly rhythm of having an assignment due for the creative writing classes I took over ten years ago – I still enjoy rereading some of the stories and pieces I came up with during that time.  My writing lately is mostly limited to work related pieces -grant writing or reporting, emailing, etc, which I do for a living now.

So this month’s challenge has dual purposes – arguably most importantly to get me off my procrastinating butt and get this darn blog that I have been whispering occasionally about for months (to a small and encouraging audience) AND to just get me back in the groove of writing in general.  I do really enjoy the process of creating and writing and editing, but it has been a challenge forcing my way past the block and drudging through the swamp-o-fear (what if no one reads it, what if anyone, someone reads it?  what if they don’t like it and comment on it, what if no one ever comments?  what if I put something up there with a typo or a grammatical error?  what if…dozens of other scenarios arise, and as you might imagine, it can be a frightening swamp indeed).  But what if I actually just keep tap tap tapping, then start up up uploading – well, here goes.

Now I'm at the end of month and here’s where we’re (yes, you are now with me in this, if you have read this far!) at: 
  • I have been writing AN AVERAGE of 30+ minutes a day, but not 30 minutes EACH day, as I originally envisioned this month.  Some days I just don’t feel inspired or my brain isn’t fired (up) or I’m just tired.  Writing more days that not writing overall though, so that it is somewhat of a habit now.  I read somewhere where you shouldn’t go more than two days without exercising if you want to make it a habit – good advice for writers too I believe.
  • Some days have been much easier than others – there is such a variety in my writing moods and attention spans, does this happen to other folks as well?  It must.
  • The best things I wrote (at least what I felt best about writing) were 1) a poem that literally poured out of my heart so fast and furious that it was all I could do to gather all the gushing to assemble it on the page somewhat sensibly and 2) a letter to the editor of my local paper on an issue that I am oddly attached to – the new plastic bag ban in our fair city, had to support it in a meaningful way.
  • The worst things I wrote were the ramblings in my non-inspired, non-motivated, non-writerly rants on how I am not really in the mood, don’t have anything to say, etc etc.  BUT actually even out of those came a few new ideas that I got down for future use, so yes it was worth it to stick to the full 30 minutes once I got going.
    What I learned
    Whew I have got a long way to go before attempting to become a Full Time Writer of any sort!  And is that what I want, I don’t really think so.  There are so many interests love to explore, but I just want to get better overall at expression through writing, which I know will be beneficial no matter what I am doing 5 years or 10 years or 25 years from now.  I just know I enjoy it and it is a craft that takes deep practice, focus, and incredible attention.  I appreciate all the novelists, journalists, and bloggers out there even more so after going through it on a much smaller scale this month.  I will keep up with it - after all I now have this blog to write, and maybe even a few readers (hopefully!) to be accountable to...

    Sunday, January 15, 2012


    As of December 31, 2011 I am now 20% of the way into this project, so I wanted to pause and take a peak backwards.  Just five quick insights:
    • Habits can become easier to stick with after 30 days, but for me some will take longer, and/or revisiting to become more permanent – the calorie counting and exercising for example. 
      I actually did a 5 day Power Challenge last week – combining no alcohol, 1500 calories a day, working out 30 minutes a day, AND my current challenge of writing for 30 minutes – keeping track of all this took more focus, but was quite manageable (and I lost those few pounds that had crept back on).

    • I do feel like I am taking a more disciplined, organized approach to most aspects of my life now – and am consciously trying to optimize my actions and behaviors, and this makes me feel less stressed and happier overall.

    • Speaking of happy, around New Years I read The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin.  It is a very well organized and researched book, with different challenges and themes each month aimed at the study of creating more happiness in our daily lives.  I didn’t know the book or her blog existed when I started this project, but am now even further inspired for what I am doing here. 

    • I have decided on my next 6 months of challenges, which I am truly excited about and look forward to undertaking with even more enthusiasm than the previous ones – I hope you’ll stay tuned, there are a few fun ones to come!