Yesterday my friend John Muldoon from Monthly Experiments asked me a great question about my ongoing Write Every Day challenge:
“Hey MP. I have a question about your writing habit. From our perspective, watching your journey has been fantastic and inspiring. But how do YOU feel about all of this? I’d love to know what this journey has been like for you so far.”
Like I said, great question.
I’ve been so busy trying to stick to the parameters of the challenge (write/post something every day for as long as I can keep it up) that I didn’t really pay much attention to the side effects it might be having on other areas of my life – positive or negative.
First off let me say that without people like John, or Bradley Charbonneau at repossible, or Ernie Dempsey, I probably would not have started this challenge, much less kept at it beyond a couple of days. These are all great people with incredible drive, talent and sense of humor. Check them out. Reading their stuff inspired me, and I have no doubt they’ll inspire and entertain you too.
That said, let me address John’s question.
How do I feel about all this?
How do I feel about finally getting a writing habit off the ground – about doing something I love, every day?
Writing every day forces me to get off my butt and create something. I’ve said before that what I do create on this schedule is not guaranteed to be great every time, but it is guaranteed to keep me in practice. I wasn’t doing that before the challenge, and since I have barely more than nothing to show for that approach, I’d say this has been a great improvement.
Coming up with something different to write about every day is an exercise in frustration, punctuated by moments of inspiration. I hope some of the inspiration floats to the surface of the frustration pool, because the process of brainstorming for a topic has my mind spinning every waking moment. Every event during my day; every random thought, every deep discussion, every amazing discovery presented to me by my kids, every book I read and meal I eat – has the potential to be something to write about.
In other words, instead of just walking through life and watching it happen as it goes by, now I’m considering how the things that happen may relate to other areas; how they may fit in with changes I’m working on for myself; or how they may apply to the craft of writing, editing and general storytelling. Every experience has the potential to start a conversation, to get me and anybody who happens to be listening thinking about things a little more in depth than before.
A side benefit of the challenge is that it is necessarily populating my site with readable content for the future – a necessity for an author site that requires a lot of work and time – which this challenge condenses and facilitates rather nicely. I get the feeling that as I get more content available, I’ll give myself permission to start working my fiction writing back into the daily habit. The site postings will occur less frequently, but the habit built through them will help drive my novels to completion.
The most unexpected benefit of the challenge has been a strange dynamic that I didn’t see coming at all.
One good habit makes others easier to come by.
What I mean by this is that once you accomplish one good change in your life and make it habitual, that change gives you optimism about the potential for other changes. In my case, I started the writing challenge at roughly the same time I started a new eating plan. I was disgusted with my weight even more than I was with my dried up writing output, and I just happened to implement changes to both areas at the same time.
What I found was that one habit fed the other. As I made progress with my excess weight, it inspired me to make progress with my writing. As I did that, I became more determined to not let myself down on my weight. It’s a symbiotic relationship that probably has no basis in scientific fact – except that it worked for me.
Being purposeful about changing things for the better has given me more energy to explore what else in my life I might be able to tweak. I have a greater sense of my own ability to get things done; to set a goal and reach it, to not give up just because something is uncomfortable or inconvenient.
Writing every day started for me as a challenge. It’s turned into a habit, and it’s prodding me to build other positive habits as well.
If you’re a writer, I encourage you to try this out. It’s been a real eye-opening experience.
Oh yeah. I forgot the negative side effects.
The only negative so far is that I really want to quit my day job and do this full time – and I haven’t figured out yet how to make that fly.
But let’s take one challenge at a time, shall we?
So John, I hope that answers your question. Thanks for asking!
So glad to see this post. I Here I am at Day 124 and I see you wrote this, “The only negative so far is that I really want to quit my day job and do this full time – and I haven’t figured out yet how to make that fly.”
Man, I feel the same way! But how, exactly, are we going to make that happen? We have a few options as I see it:
1.) Make this (writing) our day job. Going to take some time, strategy, perseverance.
2.) Make our day job more automated (helps to be inspired having something else you’re gunning for–I’m going to get fired. Why that’s a good thing.)
3.) Do something else as a day job. (e.g. work at Trader Joe’s)
Personally, I’m trying to do #2 first. I have a successful day job that I actually like, but I feel it’s just getting in the way. The stronger the passion we have for this New Thing, the more the pressure will be on (in a good way) to make it happen.
Finally, I also hear you on the “infectious habits.” I’m using the new-found efficiency to get other things done I normally never get done. Very cool.
Keep up the good work. We’re rooting for you … and keeping an eye out for you.
It’s really in interesting thing, how one habit tends to feed another. I think it may have more to do with the high you get from making progress and enjoying small successes – makes you want more.
I can’t really do #2 – my job can’t be done off site or via automation, so I’m just trying to fit writing in wherever I can. When it starts to get some traction, I’ll be able to rely more on it, but for nowI still have to pay the bills!