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29/29: Keeping a Promise to Write Every Day
On 02/29/2016 | 2 Comments
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Happy Leap Year!  Happy birthday to my daughter’s junior high art teacher, who is technically only 10, so younger than all her students.  And Happy Last-Day-of-the 29/29 Leap-Year-Edition challenge.

At the start of the month, I joined a writers’ group of virtual friends to commit to ourselves and one another that we would write every day for the month of February.  Rules were loose and self-structured.  I think as long as we all stayed true to what the commitment meant to each of us as individuals on our writing path, we could claim success.  And now here we are, final day, and I am happy to report that I stuck with the program.  No, I don’t have a 29-page binder full of complete poems, nor do I have 29 new submissions on my duotrope Submissions tracker, but I do have a lot of new work under my belt, a sizable amount of poems newly circulating out there in the world looking for a home, and a feeling of disciplined accomplishment.

Sitting out the long month of February, waiting for spring, is like being a writer, butt in chair, sticking with the ideas until they make their way out into little buds of words, words forming lines like new green twigs, lines that come together to build up to something cohesive – a willow tree, a forsythia bush, a grove of cherry blossoms, a snapshot of a moment, an entire story, a collage of images that stack up beautifully and meaningfully.

These last 29 days of my writing life, hours at my desk or a coffee shop table with a pen in hand or tappity-tapping away at my kitchen table while something simmers on the stove, were no different than the 29 before or the next 29 that will follow, except for one thing:  I not only made a promise to myself to exercise discipline in my writing life, I made that promise public, if only to a small, confidential group of fellow writers.  And that promise is what kept my butt stuck in writing position a little while longer, as long as I could possibly afford, and then a little longer after that.

Here on this blog I also made a public resolution to sit with my ideas a little longer, and asked you to do the same.  I used the same encouragement on a friend in the 29/29 group who said her well was running dry about 2/3 of the way through.  So I’d like to encourage you again, Minervas, to really make yourself keep at it.  Find warm-up exercises that work for you.  Use prompts or groups or dated notebooks.  Set alarms on your computer and don’t leave until they go off, and then maybe, still don’t leave yet.  Give yourself the challenge to keep writing, keep putting words on paper.  Don’t self-edit, don’t self-critique.  Dinner can simmer a little longer while you tend to the bubbling cauldron of ideas flowing from your brain.  Write on, my friends.  May you LEAP forward into 29 more days of success in your writerly lives.  And 29 after that.  And 29 after that. . .

 

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Kristen Posted 02/29/2016 at4:40 AM   Reply

This is such well-timed encouragement! I had promised that I would write 1000 words a day , every day, but after only a month, it started feeling like torture and I began to wonder why I should bother. If, again and again, it just feels like punishment sitting there, maybe I don’t have anything more to say.

And then I heard Liz Gilbert warning that unused creative energy is not benign and can see that this is true in my life.

So, thank you for this reminder that it does truly matter. I will keep tappity-tapping along with you and to hell with dinner on the stove.

Noel Canin Posted 03/01/2016 at12:11 PM   Reply

Thank you so much for this encouragement Emily. For some time I have felt that I have nothing to say, and no words to say it in. So it feels good to remember the simple habit of sitting and writing – no matter what.

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