The habit. It’s the one thing that can make or break a writer. Either you show up and sit down to write or you don’t. It really is as simple as that. And as complicated. With the explosion of writing communities all over social media, the ways in which we can fool ourselves into thinking we are being productive also expands.
Writers love to talk about writing. They love to talk about their process and their current WIP (work in progress). They love to tweet about how difficult it is to get the words out. They love to post instagrams of their notebooks, pens, laptops, and steaming coffee mugs. They love to declare #AMWRITING! (Read all of this really as “I” love… I am extremely guilty of every one of these things.)
But when it comes down to it, it’s just you and your blank notebook or screen. Only you really know how productive you’ve been, no matter what facade you’ve subconsciously built on social media. If you’re not putting words on paper consistently, you’re not going to get anywhere. You can keep chasing that dream of authorship all you want, but it won’t happen without the true sweat and effort that no one else sees.
I write this as a pep talk to myself as much as to anyone else. I struggle with consistency in my daily writing habit and I’m always looking for ways to improve. Now, with the impending arrival of my first baby, the stakes are even higher. If I let myself slide now, in the month before my due date, all chaos will break loose after she’s born.
“Don’t overdo it!” you say. “Be easy on yourself- this is your first baby.” Don’t worry. I know. Those precious first days and weeks with my newborn daughter are highest on my priority list. The most common remark I get at this stage? “Sleep while you can!” (which I find ironic, seeing as how the last trimester is usually when your ability to get a good night’s rest completely disintegrates). I plan on taking at least a full month off from a “work schedule” after she’s born.
But that itch to write, that groove of habit I’ve dug, must be there in the background and this is my last chance to dig it in deep. When I’ve found some semblance of “normalcy”, I’ll need to be able to jump back into writing even though my routine may look completely different. This is where My 500 Words Challenge comes in. The challenge is simply this: write 500 words every day, no matter what, for the next month. It can be a blog post, drafting, journaling, whatever. Just show up, get at least those 500 words down and go from there. Super simple. And simple is where it’s at right now.
500 words is not a lot. It’s really not very ambitious. But it’s the habit I’m concerned about more than the word count. I usually only write on the weekdays, so getting those weekend words will be more of a challenge. But most importantly, it feels doable enough to continue even after Eliana is born (though the actual challenge only lasts a month).
To hold myself accountable and share my experience with you, I’ll be posting weekly updates on my progress and include excerpts of what I’ve been writing with those 500 words a day. Want to join me in the challenge yourself? Comment below and link up over at Jeff Goin’s Blog to get started. You can begin your challenge on any day that you choose. I’ll also be tweeting updates with #my500words. I would love some company!