Last month was the first time I failed a 30 Day Challenge because I set the bar too high. But I’m ambitious. So I did what every stubborn and persistent ambitious person would do: I tried again with a few minor tweaks and succeeded. This coming month I’m aiming uncomfortably high again for the 30 Day Writing Challenge. Because if we aren’t aiming uncomfortably high, then it’s not a 30 Day Challenge, it’s just a 30 Day Whatever.
This next month I’m committing to writing every single day, 500 words a day on average. There will be some flexibility. If I manage to write 1000 words one day, I can take a day off, but the goal is to produce at least 15,000 written words in a month.
(Feeling impatient? Peek at the results of the write every day challenge!)
500 words is about one page typed for me, or 3 pages handwritten. If that doesn’t seem like a lot to you, then you might not have two young children and a job. If you are missing those extremely effective obstacles to writing daily, then you can set your bar much higher. (Or offer to babysit for free for all your friends from about 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. during the duration of the challenge.)
I won’t necessarily share everything I write. A lot of it will just be journal writing or bare bones of future articles. But I suspect that enough material will emerge that I may post a bit more than usual.
If I feel stuck or blocked and have any trouble coming up with a topic to write about, I’ll work with the questions that appeared in the How to Take Your Life to the Next Level exercise. There’s enough inspiration there to sustain several months of writing . . .
If this 30 Day Writing Challenge speaks to you, please join me by sharing this article on social media or commenting on my Facebook page. The accountability of announcing to the world that you intend to do something will keep you motivated to succeed, lest you appear flighty and fickle! So . . . gather your pens, your notebooks, your tea cups . . . and let’s see what emerges . . .
Here is What Happened: 30 Day Writing Challenge Results
The 30 Day Writing Challenge was one of the most engaging and inspiring challenges that I’ve ever done. My goal was an average of 500 words a day, and I managed to pull it off despite several unexpected hurdles . . .
Right away I realized that there was so much potential in this particular challenge. I was insatiably curious as to where it would take me. What would emerge and what word roads would I travel? Would anything decent be born?
A couple days into the challenge I caught some sort of a sore throat bug that lasted for a week. It was mild enough that I could still comfortably use my computer, drink tea, and just sit on the couch and get some mental tasks done.
But a couple days after that, I got another sore throat. This one made the first sore throat seem like a minor inconvenience. This new sore throat was no ordinary sore throat. Swallowing caused excruciating pain. I spent four days in bed, and taught myself how to not move, so that I would not have to swallow! Just FYI, swallowing is something we take for granted.
After the fourth day, I dragged myself to the car. I drove to urgent care and found out that I had strep throat. I’ve never been quite as happy to be prescribed antibiotics. Amoxicillin in hand, I had to spend a few days catching up on work and household duties and I didn’t feel inspired to write.
Then just as I realize I was getting very behind on my 30 Day Writing Challenge target, my computer died! Part of me had always hoped I’d be off my computer by age 40, but this is not what I meant!
It was one of those precarious Windows Update situations . . . One minute everything is working fine. And then my laptop says “hey it’s time to update something, want to do it now?” And I think “sure why not” and the next thing I know my computer is doing something for about 10 hours. When it finally boots up again it will only load the recycling bin. This is not good during a Writing Challenge . . .
I had to call on all my years of meditation to not totally lose my shit because I had about three months of writing on it that I hadn’t backed up to Google Docs. I don’t know why, it just didn’t even cross my mind. I guess that shows how out of touch I am with current technology. I was often working offline, on an old unreliable machine, and didn’t realize what I was risking.
In only a slight panic, I took the computer to the local computer repair shop. This is something I’d imagine someone’s grandma doing (no offense to technically savvy IT grandmas). There I was, laptop and power cord (because we all know old laptops have dead batteries) in critical state on the passenger seat headed to the computer ER.
The computer did not survive, it was pronounced dead and destined to e-waste a few days later. Lucky for me, the IT dudes were able to save my files. It was a powerful wake up call that my writing is valuable to me, and that I should take precautions that it not go missing.
Another part of this story is my slowly fading relationship with my computer. I’ve felt this for a while, and while I still appreciated my computer, perhaps I need to find a different way of expressing myself. It does not seem to be a coincidence, that the month I decide to do a writing challenge, I’m in bed, my computer dies, and I just don’t write for a few days. There are some suspicious blockages appearing . . . metal note to self to ponder the meaning of this.
The bonus discovery that resulted from the dead computer is the power of dictation. I am learning to use my phone more, which is with me almost everywhere I go. And I am learning to note more ideas on the fly by dictating them into google docs. So this writing challenge led me to find yet another way to use my voice!
The efficiency of dictation makes it yet another powerful tool for time management. I am amazed at how many words I can transcribe in only a fraction of the time it would take me to write them. So incorporating dictation into my writing process will increase my productivity.
Dictation also offers the opportunity to practice expressing myself eloquently and to convey complex ideas in a simple, accessible way without editing as I go. It feels similar to practicing public speaking,
There is also an energetic component to using my spoken voice. The ability to say what I am thinking out loud, to create a sound in the world, feels like it carries more power compared to the silence of the written page. The stories can be heard by ears of living creatures, the vibrations felt by the leaves of plants. Does this bring them to life in someway that typing them into a screen does not?
Overall, the 30 Day Writing Challenge generated a lot of raw material, fragments and rough ideas. Most of them need to be edited and polished. So instead of jumping right into another challenge this month I will work on the stories and methods that emerged over the last few weeks.
Update: I did end up getting an 11 inch Samsung Chromebook that I absolutely love. It weighs hardly anything and I can toss it in my purse when I head to town for tea. (Yes, I am one of those women that has a tote bag that contains just about everything known to man.)