Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Thirty Days of Writing: Looking Back

My December "Don't Break the Chain" Calendar
Today makes 30 days. December 1 to December 30.
I wrote for 30 minutes on every one of those 30 days.
My longest string yet.

So, on this last day of #writedaily30, I'm looking back.

Calling today "the last day" has me a little on edge. See, I can't really look at today as a "last" day. I've been successful with this challenge, but I can't afford to chance breaking the chain. I can't treat today's celebration of my accomplishment as a finale or lean on 30 days of success as a reason I don't need to write tomorrow.

The truth is, I do.

I do need to write tomorrow. And the day after. And the 363+ days that come afterward. 
I do need a place to reflect and express and play and create and explore.

I don't always need the same thing of my writing time, but I do always need my time to write.

My December #writedaily30 goal was essentially to show up. To make a commitment to keep my pen moving on paper for 30 minutes every day. No specific topic, no intended audience, no pressure to publish. Just "me" time with my notebook to see what would come.

Writing is generative.

Flitting among the pages of two (Yes, not one, but two!) notebooks, there are recurring themes and ideas I have circled back to. There are pages that house classroom vignettes or specific memories I'll be glad to hold on to. And there are occasional rants or outpourings of questions--followed by more questions--that may never have real answers. But that's ok.

All of it is, actually. Because it's evidence of how my thinking and my life as a writer are evolving. Together.

Last night I set a timer for five additional minutes after my 30 had passed. I wanted those five-more-minutes to respond to Linda Urban's prompt: What have you learned about yourself? What have you learned about goals and daily writing and commitment?

Reflective notes flowed freely from my pen. I was astonishing by the ease in which I was listing! Could it be that while my attention was turned to keeping a 30-day writing commitment and establishing a habit, I was glazing over some bigger realizations? Like these:

  • Ideas come to me. All. The. Time. An offshoot of writing daily means that consciously or subconsciously, I anticipate the chance to write. My daily goings on include observing, generating, and storing ideas for writing time, whether intentional or not.
  • My notebook is an extension of myself. Along with my wristlet and phone, my notebook is the third thing that travels with me almost everywhere. And I depend on my notebook to catch my randomness--inspirations or otherwise.
  • Sometimes the pressure of posting publicly stifles me as a writer. I get caught up in doing it right. Giving myself permission to "take a break" from blogging was hard, but a necessary reprieve to let me get back to reflecting on and banking ideas. And I've come away with at least a dozen smaller writing pieces that I can return to. That said...
  • I need to up the ante on myself. Free writing with no pressure has been what I needed this month, but now I need to attend to a nagging idea that is begging for more of my attention. It's time to find a balance between continuing to generate writing and making project-specific progress.
  • As solitary and personal as writing is, keeping the company of other writers is motivating to me. Beyond the gentle nudge of accountability, the #writedaily30 community is special, generously encouraging one another with positive responses to expressions of relief or frustration.

Today I'm celebrating my success. 
I kept a commitment for 30 days and wrote 30 minutes on each of those days.
And I came away with lots of possible blog posts, a project to pursue, and a whole lot to think through about what it means to be a writer and a teacher of writing.

I'm pretty sure I still need to write tomorrow.

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