In late November of last year, I was searching for a way back into my writing. I was searching for a way to do what Ray Bradbury urged here:
“I don’t believe in optimism. I believe in optimal behavior. That’s a different thing … Action is hope. At the end of each day, when you’ve done your work, you lie there and think, Well, I’ll be damned, I did this today.
It doesn’t matter how good it is, or how bad – you did it. At the end of the week you’ll have a certain amount of accumulation. At the end of a year, you look back and say, I’ll be damned, it’s been a good year.” ~ Ray Bradbury
Terrific and inspirational advice but how, how, do you get there? How do you turn your hope into action? One way is to create a writing habit (which works an awful lot like an exercise habit–in fact, exercise has a lot in common with writing, but that’s fodder for another post).
Take a quick look at Rosanne Bane’s post on Why Habits Work When Discipline and Will Power Won’t and you can also read her post here about those fifteen magic minutes. To everyone who says you can’t create something worthwhile by writing for fifteen minutes three to five times per week, I say:
You can’t create anything worthwhile if you never start.
So go. Start something. What that something is matters less than you think it does.
So anyway, back in late November, when I was trying to figure out a way to start, I stumbled upon The Southeast Review’s 30-Day Writer’s Regimen. They were gearing up to run a version during December. I nearly didn’t do it. Come on, December? The holidays? How on earth was I going to write? Then I decided it would be a Christmas gift to myself.
It was very low stress. All I needed to do for each prompt they sent was write a single page, longhand (that’s maybe 250 words for me). It didn’t even need to be about the prompt, just whatever came to mind after reading it.
I missed a day or two (but oddly, not Christmas itself). One prompt inspired exactly nothing, so I wrote about my reaction to that prompt (wow, I have a whole lotta nothing for this one …). Some prompts got a page. Some built a continuing story, one became a poem, another a flash fiction piece. And one was the jumping off point for my very first Write 1/Sub 1 for the year, which ended up at ~8,000 words.
All because I decided I could write a single, longhand page per day for thirty days. By doing so, I built a habit, one I happen to love.
And … they’ll be running the Writer’s Regimen again in June. All new material. Still plenty of time to sign up. Anyone want to join me?