Early days, but I think I can do this.

A week ago, I started a personal writing challenge month. A first for me. I committed to writing at least one-half hour every day. A big deal.

I didn’t commit to publishing daily; I’m a fan of quantity balanced by good quality. I like my work to marinate a bit. My goal is simply to put my shoulder to the writing wheel EVERY day for the 31 days of March.

I am determined to test my mettle.

Do I want this or not? Do I want to cultivate a voice on Medium or not? Do I want to become a better writer or not?

The Challenge is actually a triad of practices

Obviously writing is the centerpiece of the Challenge. But reading is also critical to developing as a writer. I’ve saved this post and return to it now and again.Why Reading Is ‘Essential’ For Writers
Not Just ‘Important’!writingcooperative.com

I committed to reading at least one half-hour every day. To read beyond newsfeeds and emails. Really read. Books, short stories, fiction; to make reading a “homework assignment.” Digital content is allowed, but extra points for the hardcopy book. There’s nothing like literally turning a page.

Finally, I committed to taking ideation seriously. Not in the half-ass “I’ll remember that” in the smoky moments of waking up, or when an idea hits on the way to the supermarket. I’m taking notes when the fire strikes.

I’ve learned ideas don’t linger in smoldering ashes.

Today, I’m a week in. My progress report and early reflections.

  • The days have flown, yet I have stuck to my half-hour writing and reading schedule. I’ll note that the writing requirement means fresh writing. Not editing, not rewrites. The upshot is that so far I’ve exceeded the half hour because once you get going…
  • My reward system, a derivative of Jerry Seinfeld’s “don’t break the chain” invocation, is oddly rewarding. As any 4th grader, I’m proud of my chain. Note today, March 8th is still young. I haven’t “read” yet.

Photo credit: Jane Trombley

I’m not at a loss for topics with this daily writing schedule. I thought I might be, but the on-the-spot ideation note taking gives me excess fodder. That in itself is a reward.

  • I rather like the structure of the daily schedule. Essentially I’m lazy and easily distracted. If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, my road to hell is paved in gold. I’m not so good with follow through. Now, I’m on it every day. We’ll see what the future holds and whether I “fall off the wagon.” It happens.
  • I like the sense of improved productivity. I can tell I’m more efficient by working on multiple writing projects. My habit has been to write one Medium post at a time, in a linear fashion from start to finish. Now, I rather like bouncing around among writing projects. It gives me some distance to each work-in-progress and improving the final product.
  • I’m beginning to feel things flow with greater ease. I feel less tortured staring at a blank page. I’m inspired by Louise Foerster ‘s post on “tiny wins.”

How to Win Tiny
Make Tiny Even Tiniermedium.com

  • I really love the reading requirement of my challenge. I’ve always loved to read for pleasure, but the first to admit the siren call of Netflix has impinged on my free time. The mandate ensures that reading for pleasure, always a favorite part of my “school day,” is prioritized.

The bloom is not quite off the rose. I’m still in the honeymoon phase, flush enthusiasm and enthralled by adding daily stars. I haven’t had the off day, the day I feel sniffly, the day crammed with other commitments. It will come, in the next twenty-three days or so. The commitment rubber will hit the road.

What’s next?

  • I’m on a roll and don’t want to lose the flow. As I start week two I expect things will come up threatening the momentum. I skip a day, “life happens.” And so what? I’ll just pick up my socks and go on. 
  • Seven days into the challenge gives me the confidence that this isn’t beyond me. I can write every day. I will get better at it, too. I will post more. Everything I read about growth on Medium is not outside my abilities. It’s really up to me. 
  • I’ll check in next week with the next progress report. This exercise is keeping me accountable. So thank you, readers, for helping me toe the line. 

A pan-curious writer and traveler, reflecting on a life well-lived. Women 60+, let’s do this!
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A pan-curious writer and traveler, reflecting on a life well-lived. Women 60+, let’s do this!

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