A self-imposed boot camp for wanna be writers like me
If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.”
— Isaac Asimov
Many months ago, I noticed a young writer on Medium who was attending University and still managed to post every single day no matter what life threw at her. Exams, reading, assignments, papers due did not keep her from following through on her 30 Day Blogging Challenge.
I must admit I was in awe. Unfortunately, I don’t recall her name, only her tenacity and follow-through. Her dedication to her goal caught my attention.
I wanted to be just like her.
Writing Excuses Instead of Actual Writing
The mystery writer’s activities on Medium made me stop reading her post for a minute and write ’30 Day Blogging Challenge’ in my journal of writing ideas back in early July.
Just as soon as I had jotted the idea in my notebook, the excuses about why I couldn’t possibly start a challenge quickly crept into my brain one after the other: I’m traveling in July, August, and October so I shouldn’t start. I’m under too much stress so I shouldn’t start. I need to focus on getting my house organized for a potential move so I shouldn’t start. I have no ideas, so I shouldn’t start. On and on the excuses came unbidden.
Sound familiar? I should have written a post about every single excuse so I could see in black-and-white the ridiculous stuff I was telling myself. Despite the lameness of the excuses, I let myself off the hook.
Big mistake! Taking a quick look at my activity on Medium, one can plainly see that I have spent the majority of my time not writing despite having plenty of time.
Or at least not writing on Medium, which was my goal. I have written for my blog, been a guest blogger, and let’s not forget the recommendations written for websites like Amazon, NextDoor, TripAdvisor, and Yelp (eye-rolling emoji here). Do Facebook posts count?
The only problem with excuses is that there’s always going to be another good reason why you or I shouldn’t start writing daily. Simply living a life means there are must-do daily events, activities, appointments, and people needing attention.
Writing needs to be on top of the list of daily activities especially if your goal, like mine, is to be a writer.
Fear of Failure or Fear of Success
A writer who is full of fear whether that’s fear of failure or fear of success, will have difficulty putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard.
My fear has kept me from writing for a very long time. It stems from feeling like I’m not good enough. I’ve read so many incredible books over the years and every time I read another great one, there’s a tiny voice in the back of my mind telling me ‘You can’t write like that. Why would anyone want to read your unoriginal drivel?” I know many authors hear this same voice, and struggle with muffling the messenger.
Fortunately, I have the benefit of gentle, loving guidance of my coach. I recently told her that I’m very close to publishing the 300th blog post on my personal blog. She was astonished to learn that it used to take me a month to write, edit, and finally hit publish. I lived in absolute fear that someone would find a typo, a grammatical gaffe, an incorrect use of a word, or worse, the post would be boring. GASP!
After reading so many different blogs from all kinds of people, I realized my fears were not based in reality. Many people write on Medium and on other platforms. I have found more typos than I care to mention but so what? I still read what the writer wrote and take in their words of wisdom or inspiration. No judgment on them for their mistake.
If I’m so forgiving of other people, why can’t I forgive myself for the very same transgressions?
Getting Rid of Fear
How to get rid of fear? Write every single day no matter what. Not everything is going to be good. Heck, the majority of it will be shit, I can almost guarantee it. But some of the writing will be great. Perhaps only one sentence out of thousands of words will be good enough for the masses but that is okay. At least you will have written one sentence that resonates with someone.
Let’s look at a photographer as an example of how to rethink quantity. A photographer may take 2,000 photos during a photo shoot. How many of those pictures are really, really good? Twenty? Thirty? I’ve heard that a photographer expects one photo out of a 100 to be worthy of publishing.
The point is that despite the high number of shots, the end result is few photos are great. This fact doesn’t stop any photographers from going out and taking another 2,000 photos the very next day.
The same mindset is appropriate for writers to consider. Just keep writing.
The Importance of Writing Daily
I have learned from so many inspirational speakers that it is the habit of daily action (in this case: writing) that is so important, and that is why I decided to start a 30 Day Blogging Challenge for myself. Never mind I’m staring down the start of my family’s birthday season, major holidays including Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and my many numerous other commitments. I’m going to start anyway.
What I’m Hoping to Gain
What I’m hoping to gain from this experience is an inflexible commitment to writing. Nobody in my family considers me a writer. Nobody reads what I’ve written, and nobody supports me in my writing efforts. The support I receive comes from outside sources like my coach and a few friends which is enough to keep me going.
I’m not complaining about the lack of attention from my family. In fact, I would hate it if they paid me any mind at all. Inattention provides me with the freedom to say anything and everything I want without fear.
With family eyes on my work, I’d feel constrained and restricted. As an incurable people-pleaser, I know I’d crumble to the pressure to omit certain things that I’ve gone through alone and with others. I know I’d buckle under the weight of hurt feelings and would eventually either stop writing completely, or only write DIY posts or recommendations for products. None of these ideas sound like something I’d be interested in.
What I’m left with is me cheering myself on. Sometimes that’s got to be good enough.
Join me in your own 30 Day Blogging Challenge or watch as I embark on a personal journey of following through on a very public commitment. I’ve never done anything like this before. Trust me, I am terrified.