Setting Up For Success

Confession: Yesterday, I forgot to write.

Since June 1st, I set a challenge to write for thirty minutes every day. The purpose of this challenge was to address the time (or lack thereof) that I dedicated to an activity for me. Not for the boyfriend. Not for the child. Not for work. Not for school. I needed to dedicate time to the writer, an identity that I occasionally considered dishonest. How can I be a writer if I do not write regularly?

I wanted to set aside time to free-write, to gather fodder for bigger projects to come.  And, the exercise started off great. I wrote for thirty minutes. Sometimes, I would just put words on a page. Sometimes, I felt like I was actually getting somewhere. I wrote about my life, my feelings. I wrote about inspiration quotes and narrated the moment.

And then I started to shave that time. Maybe I would check on my bank balances or credit card statements while I set up my document. Maybe I would sneak-a-peek at my work email to see if I missed anything as I thought of something to write about. Sometimes, I would start the timer on the session and then get distracted with something else and never returned to the document.

Therefore, my dwindling commitment made it easy for me to forget to use the time I have been setting aside for writing. I got caught up with the nightly routine and was exhausted from a long week of work, school and house searching. Before I knew it, I was crawling into bed and the day was over.

When I did remember, I was a little annoyed. But I also realized that I have been cheating. I am not allowing myself the ability to fully engage with the process. I would start the timer when I’m tired. I would grumble about the additional commitment of my very limited time. I would search Pinterest, Facebook, and Zillow as I’m “thinking of ideas.” These are not effective writing sessions. I knew it then and I know it now. I have not been setting myself up to succeed.

The writer’s greatest enemy is herself. Success in writing may mean not giving into the hundred thousand different need demanding my attention at this moment. Maybe the needs wait. Maybe I find a better moment for writing.

Only twelve more days to go.

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The Importance of Giving Space

I just completed Day 5 of my write everyday challenge. Here is a quick overview of my experience and early thoughts.

The Exercise

For 30 minutes (a hard 30 minutes, not a moment less, not a moment more) I free-wrote. For those who are unfamiliar with the practice, freewriting gives the writer space to just write. Sometimes, the exercise involves a topic or point of inspiration, but the most important element is to write for the entire duration of the time allocated to the activity.

At first, I intended to free-write every morning. And I did. For the first morning. After that, it fell to the late evening one night and I haven’t been able to get it done in the morning since.

I choose not to share this anyone I knew personally. Not my boyfriend, not my coworkers and definitely not on Facebook. Why? Because I didn’t know if I could do it. Lately (and what I mean is the last two year), I’ve really struggled with time management. If I couldn’t allocate time to write, would I want to write at all?

While I contemplated the exercise for the last month, I decided to commit after I was selected to facilitate a workshop at a writing conference. While I do write sporadically, I did not have any sense of commitment to it. The purpose of this exercise was to provide a sense of structure without being formulaic. Thirty minutes (and I cannot stress that it was a true 30 minute session) was enough time for me to just write.

The Lesson

Freewriting is a great exercise in and of itself. It is an excellent way to get your fingers moving over the keyboard or pen across paper.

For me, the lesson was the importance of giving myself space to write. I allowed myself one- 30 minute session every day. I allocated time in my busy schedule to write.

Now, this may seem simple. Obviously, I should have seen it from the beginning, but I have become a work-as-fast-as-you-can-because-it-was-due-yesterday kind of person. When I am busy, it is easy for me to fall into the I-just-want-to-move-on-to-the-next-thing mentality.

This exercise forced me to stop and write.

I started to think about other times where I have allowed myself space to do something. Sometimes, space means letting the toddler’s bedtime ritual unfold even if it’s nearly 9:30 p.m. Sometimes, it means giving us permission to be late to an event because getting there on time is just not going to happen. Sometimes, space means that during a rainy afternoon, I am not going to fret about homework, but that I will be present as I read books to the toddler and play with blocks.

In busy lives, it is important to give ourselves space to be present in our lives.

 

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Hello Again Writing World: Or The Plan to Reignite My Writing Flame

Notebook and pen

It has been a long time since I’ve written anything worth sharing (and I’m not sure if this really counts). But I’m here to share some news and a scheme that, I hope, will keep me honest. I’ve recently been selected to participate in a writing conference (which I am absolutely excited about). However, I want to bring something more to my discussions than last year and want to conduct a little experiment.

I will write. Every. Day.

So in addition to working full-time, taking courses towards my master’s degree, playing with my now 19 month old daughter, house-searching and generally trying to lose weight, I will write every day for 30 minutes.

My current scheme is to take time to write first thing in the morning. I am a morning person, so I think a 30-minute writing session could be manageable as I drink my coffee.

I’ll start June 1 and post weekly updates on my honest progress.

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Does Gen Y Send Xmas Cards?

Have we lost the art of letter writing?

The day after Christmas, I received two Christmas cards in the mail. Both writers wished my new family a merry holiday and one elaborated briefly on the happenings of her life. This was the first year I have received Christmas cards in the mail and to be honest, I was a little surprised to find them in my mailbox.Christmas Cards

In our high speed lifestyles, is there time to send holiday greetings? Or do we succumb to sharing holiday memes on Facebook?

In my English classes, we read the letters to and from the writers we were studying in addition to their works. These letters not only gave us insight into their day-to-day lives, but the world in which they lived. This insight could be then applied to better understanding their works. We cannot truly understand Pride and Prejudice without understand the world of Jane Austen.

In 2014, we share our thoughts through Facebook status updates, and 140 character Twitter tweets and text messages. We send private messages and emails. We read our news online. We are dependent on technology to communicate.

Will sending holiday greeting cards become as antiquated as holiday fruit cakes and yule logs?