The ups and downs, but mostly ups, of week 2.

The half-way mark of the Challenge month. It’s the Ides of March. A date traditionally signifying doom, thanks to Shakespeare’s dramatic warning. What better time to take stock and recalibrate as necessary. 

During the week, I have been tempted to pick up my colored pencils and doodle, instead of write. A creative, mindless form of procrastination. I’m a master of mindless forms of procrastination. But I’m happy/proud to say I’ve stuck with the program, more or less. 

As background, here’s where I landed at the end of week 1:What I Learned in the First Week of my Writing Challenge
Early days, but I think I can do this.medium.com

Progress report for week 2: 

  • I set too low a bar for daily writing. A half hour of free writing per day, if you’re serious about honing the craft, is nothing. I’ve exceeded it every day. I never looked at the clock and thought, “gee only 22 more minutes of this.” If the half-hour goal is that easy to meet, where’s the “challenge”? The goal post should be higher. 
  • I’m raising the daily free-writing goal to an hour each day for the rest of the challenge. 
  • The ideation challenge has been very helpful. I’ve used my notebook to scratch notes. I’ve used the back (and front) on envelopes. Paper napkins in cafes. I’ve written headlines in Draft Stories as writing prompts. I’ve sent myself texts with links I find interesting. As a result, I’ve got several plausible ideas in the running. Some will not materialize. But more ideas in the hopper means writing material. It is a far sight better than my linear fashion of idea-research-draft-re-write-publish-repeat. One story at a time. I can multi-task this one. 
  • The reading challenge has fallen short of the mark. I wrote last week, “I really love the reading requirement of my challenge.” And I do. But I also acknowledged that “I’m not so good with follow through.” I know where I’ve failed. I’ve put off the reading until bedtime. I’m tired. I have no attention span beyond spinning through Instagram. So now reading will be part of my workday, not a leisure activity at night. 
  • The chain is unbroken. But only on the writing side. Strong on ideation, but that wasn’t set as a clear metric. 

Photo credit: Jane Trombley

  • Strengthening relationships with publications other writers has been so gratifying. Writing more has led to a greater engagement with other writers. Valued “old” friends such as Jeff Ikler and Caroline de Braganza. Some new to my orbit, Harper Thorpe and Deb Knobelman, Ph.D. Being a guest on Nicole AkersWednesday night Twitter feed #pubchat. Might all this happened if I wasn’t so committed? It’s too early to attribute these changes to a week or two of daily writing. There is something in the wind…
  • Is that “something” rejection? A story was rejected this week. A polite “this isn’t for us” note. OK. J.K. Rolling received dozens of rejections. Rejection is part of what being a writer is about. I’m reporting mine as a Week 2 incident to document that my experience isn’t all unicorns and rainbows. I should wear rejection as a badge of honor, a rite of passage. But I’m too new at this. Rejection just feels bad. 
  • I’ve had some frustrations with Medium’s paywall. I would swear that I ticked the box for each submission to be part of Medium’s paywall. I found that some stories, after publication, were NOT eligible for payment. I quickly remedied the situation but was dismayed by the March 13 Medium Partnership Program payment summary. So now, as each story is published, I double check that it is being recorded correctly.
  • My “Read Ratio” continues to be strong; I like it. This is a thing with me. 

Why I care (a lot) About the Number of “Reads”
It’s the most important of Medium’s top line stats.writingcooperative.com

  • Jack Preston King responded making the astute observation that the “reads” number is possibly underrecorded. It based on an estimated “read time” for a story. Thus, skimmers who get the gist of the article but who don’t spend the estimated time are not counted. To me, that makes a high “read ratio” all the more important. It must be said that this strong ratio is predicated on a less-than-stellar number of views, and the claps do not translate to a liveable wage. Yet I’m pleased that this ratio has improved week over week from 51% to 53%.

On to week 3

Turning the corner on this Challenge in itself feels like an accomplishment. Upping the goals feels like an accomplishment. Maintaining/improving a metric that is meaningful to me feels like an accomplishment. 

Bumping up against a setback or two is a learning experience. Period. 

Once again, this exercise is keeping me accountable. And once again, thank you 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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