09 January 2012

Instead of Resolutions, Action: The 30 Day Writing Challenge

A friend of mine, three weeks into January,  told me that he had resolved to work out in the gym for the coming year.  I asked him how it was going and he said, "Well I am going to wait until February, so that all of the New Year Resolution people drop out and it isn't so crowded."

While funny, the observation cuts close to home.  How many years have I resolved that THIS would be the year I ate better, worked out regularly, made a savings plan, or spent an hour every day writing.  What happens?  I do well for a month, maybe two months and then...kaput.  All of my resolve is lost to my old bad habits.  I do my best to pretend as if I was never filled with naive gusto to begin with.  I practice my smug grin in the mirror as other people tell me about their resolutions.  You know, the smile that says We all know how this will end.

I have another friend who says, "I can be an angel for exactly three days."  By this he means that no matter how good his motivations, how strong his intent, after three days he is up to his old behavior again.

This year I didn't make any resolutions for 2012.  I made some notes for what I would like to see happen, but  I didn't set my sights on them too hard.  I know myself.  In the past, I have been prone to big gestures which then I regret fulfilling.  We've all been there.

This year I was asked by a fellow poet to join her in a 30 day writing challenge.  Every day, I would write something new and post it on a blog with fellow writers.  We would also briefly comment on one another's work.  This is NaNoWriMo on a poet's scale.  There are no word counts.  The only rule is that you must have written or revised what you posted within 24 hours of posting it.

Things have been going well.  I feel some pressure, but I am not overwhelmed.  After all, I don't have to write a perfect poem by sundown.  I don't even have to write a whole poem.  The goal is to put words on paper (screen) every single day.

It also helps that I know I can bail on this project after 30 days.  I can do almost anything for 30 days so long as I know I can revert to my old ways afterward.  It is my hope that this 30 Day Writing Challenge will encourage me to continue to write after I reach the end of January.

Even if I fail to write every day afterward, I will have generated some new material with which to work.  So I encourage you--no matter what your art is--to give yourself a 30 Day Challenge of some sort.  Perhaps this will help you to complete some project you can never find the time for.

The point is to take small, consecutive action every day.  To create.        

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