What I Gained From Developing a Daily Writing Practice

One of the best things about turning my focus to writing daily, and doing several different writing challenges, is an obvious oiling of the creative gears.  Over the last few years, inspiration didn't come easy and the process of sitting down and starting to write was like slogging through mud.  Every day I would get up and think, "What the hell could I write on today?" The blank page stared back at me with no sympathy - that is if I could get myself to the computer to start.

A 10 day poetry challenge started the gears moving.  The focus each day was different and it offered lots of examples of how to find inspiration in everything around me.  To this I added a 30 day writing challenge inspired by an Author Nation You Tube video I watched.  What do all career authors have in common? Melody Owen shared a startling bit of writing math. She said if you write 1000 words a day every day for a year, you will have written 365,000!  WOW.  That is five to six complete books for me as a non-fiction author.  I knew this would be a perfect challenge to help me to start developing a daily writing practice. 

There is actually more to the story than that. All books need you to do things that don't produce word count, and not everything you write will book worthy.  BUT just think of the possibilities. It was a start. For 30 days I committed to producing 1000 words of written content - any kind of content. It could include chapters for new books, poetry, blog posts of any genre, short stories, recipes. It didn't matter how I reached that 1,000 words, it only matter that I showed up and did the work. 

I knew accountability would be the key to keeping me on track.  I made sure the incentive was strong by creating a total word count chart that I posted on Facebook every day.  If I didn't finish my 1000 words, I had to post a zero. Who likes to do that? Posting my daily results for the world to see turned out to be the magic ingredient that kept me on track. 

After the first week I had to change directions just a bit.  I found I could do a 1000 words a day for six days, but I really needed one day a week off.  My mind needed a rest. My husband wanted to spend time together. I had non-writing projects I needed time for.  I adapted.  The challenge was still 1000 words a day for 30 days, but I tucked in an off day on every 7th day.  That small change made all the difference. 

Lastly, I signed up for an online Storytelling Writing Certificate program.  Not every class has been amazing, but it's definitely pushed me in new directions and made me look at what I do from a more professional point of view.  I even wrote the opening chapter for a work of fiction.  I still need a plot to take it from there, but I am so excited with the possibilities.  

To evaluate the effect the last 30 days have had on my work as a writer, I decided to start with some statistics.

  • Blogs written - 39 (a mix of articles, poetry, recipes and book reviews) - 19,564 word count
  • Number of words written on a possible new book - 12,157 word count
  • One chapter written for a new collaborative book I am going to be a part of - 1048  word count
  • An opening chapter for a book of fiction. A start I can build from. 956 word count
  • Finished a 10 day poetry challenge, a 30 day writing challenge and completed 3 courses in my Storytelling Certificate Writing Program

On top of that I want to add some things that are more anecdotal.

  • The resistance I used to feel to sitting down and writing, has for the most part disappeared. I now have a new ingrained habit that draws me to the computer after I make my 2nd latte. 
  • As I said above, the ideas and words are flowing out a little easier. There are still days it's a reach to find inspiration, but I have to tools to work through those moments. But the further I progressed in this challenge, the more creativity presented itself.  
  • The skills I've been exposed to are helping to bring more depth and emotion into my work. I want to continue to grow and improve as a writer. I've been in a rut for too long. 
  • Writing the first chapter of a fiction book was a thrill like none. Can I build on this? I honestly don't know. But at this point I am feeling incredibly excited about the prospect. I had given up hope in this area. No longer. 
Where do I go from here? 
Now that my habit of writing is getting stronger, I want to turn a larger part of my focus to writing new books for publication.  I have set a possible launch date for September 20th even though I am not sure which book it will be.  I also want to explore writing poetry on a regular basis.  It seems to be calling me and I love what it is teaching me. 

More than anything, though, I just want to continue to enjoy putting words to paper, to keep the flood gates open to all the ideas that fill my thoughts, and to hopefully share ideas that have meaning to others.