Okay, I lied. It’s not my blogiversary, not for another four months at least. But, as I hit publish on this momentous post, my 87th since mid-August, WordPress tells me I’m on a 30-day streak.
That’s 30 days—a whole month—and 87 morning inspiration writing prompts, 100-word stories, flash stories, poems, and mindless musings after 3.5 years of sporadic writing or no writing at all.
We have to celebrate!
I’ve been on a mission to becoming a more consistent writer. In the past, between imposter syndrome causing my writer’s block, feeling stretched too thin at my day job, and cramming in late-night writing sessions deep into the wee hours when the ideas just weren’t there, I had eventually burned myself out. And I was entirely too hard on myself. If I missed even a day of writing, I felt as guilty as a sinner in church and was ashamed to come back.
This resulted in so many works in progress left unfinished:
- Love Poetry
- Lost Boy (still a working title)
- Oreo Cookies (I’ve been away from this one so long, I don’t even remember where I was going with it—I believe it was intended to be a for colored girls adjacent.)
Now I wake up every morning and challenge myself to write at least 100 words, whether good or bad. Get back in that habit of writing again. Eventually the longer stories will come back, and sure enough, new life has been breathed into Lost Boy as I look back at old brainstorming sessions and character sketches and even write a new scene for the first time in five years. Out of all my current works in progress, a voice tells me this is the one I should restart first, and so I will.
Something else I want to get back into is writing the short story. Not the flash bits I post here, but longer ones—2,000-3,000 words—that could be published in a collection, an anthology, or a literary magazine (like the ones here). I haven’t done that in a while. I have a few stories that have never been published—of course, that’s because I stopped submitting them—but I’m actually working on a new short story for the StoryADay fun-size challenge, where you write a story in a week.
We’re halfway through the challenge, and hopefully by Saturday, I’ll have a rough draft ready for editing!
Sometimes I hesitate to call myself a poet because I don’t write in rhyme or metered verse. I don’t always feel my words evoke an emotion or touch the senses like other poets’ do. They’re too simple, too bland. Then I look back at old poems, particularly ones published here on the blog, and I think to myself, Wow! Look at the imagery! The language! I wrote this?
Yes, you did, girl, and it’s time you remind the people of that, and it’s time you remind yourself.
When I started this blog, I was in my early 20s, fresh out of college, and optimistic for a lifetime of writing. Over the years, I’ve unfortunately let doubt creep in. It didn’t help that people I respected would tell me I didn’t know enough, I wouldn’t make it, I needed to get a day job because there was no money in writing.
But then I am reminded of what the keynote speaker said at my freshman orientation all those years ago, when I first stepped onto the big university campus: Major in your dream and make your dream your career.
He was a writer too.
Now I know what you’re thinking: Aren’t you afraid you’ll burn out again.
No, because I’ve been working on developing a system that prioritizes not only what’s important to me but also what’s healthy (i.e., not mentally taxing).
In the past, I did too many things, made too many commitments that caused me to lose sight of my goal, which is to finally publish my book. I won’t make that mistake this time around. I’m writing like my life depends on it, and I’m not getting distracted by anything else.
How do I hope to achieve this? Well, it starts with discipline, and that’s what I’ve been focusing on the last several weeks.
Read previous posts in this series
1. Early morning write sessions
Getting up at 5am when the rest of the world is still quiet and letting my writer’s mind run free. I can’t always focus when it’s completely silent, so I’ll often put on a podcast, usually something writing or church related, because I’m a writing church girl…even if my stories don’t always reflect it.
2. Write it down first
A few years ago, I bought a notebook from a fellow blogger’s Etsy store, and I’ve only recently started using it again. The pages are quickly filling up, so I’ll need a new one soon, even though I have a bookshelf full of unused ones—a writer can never have too many notebooks, right?
Since opening the notebook, I’ve discovered the ease and simplicity of writing my stories down on paper first. The inspiration comes quicker! On the computer, I’m too tempted to edit as I write, which always stops me dead in my tracks. With only a pen (or pencil) and paper, my only focus is the words on the page. It’s so liberating. Who knew, right? The drawback of being raised in the digital era: we forget the simplicities of life.
So when I’m ready to type my story, that’s when I clean and polish it, but only after it’s already written, ensuring that I never leave a story I start unfinished again.
Also, because my day job involves me looking at a computer all day, this method also helps to cut down on my screen time and give my eyes much needed rest.
3. Fit it all in
As much as I would like to write full-time, in this economy, that’s not likely…yet.
(But if CBS ever wants to bring back the Twilight Zone for a fifth time, my contact info is in the sidebar!)
So I have to balance day job work with dream job work. So far, that involves me getting up early during the week so I can write before work and hopefully find a happy stopping point so that writing sessions don’t bleed into work time.
Some days I’m more successful at this than others.
I’ve also set up a system where I write for the blog during the week and for works in progress and longer pieces on the weekends, when I have more free time. A mistake I’ve made in the past was publishing every idea I ever had on the blog and leaving nothing left in the creativity well to write and publish professionally. Yes, I want to keep you guys entertained, but I also want to publish that book. You understand, right?
With all of these steps in place, I hope to come back in another 30 days to tell you of my progress, boasting of my success! Here’s to a 60-day streak!
Now, to commemorate 30 straight days of blogging, I’d like to re-share the top 10 stories that got the most love from you guys:
Bonus: Morning Inspiration: Writing Prompt No. 33
A crowd favorite of the Morning Inspiration prompts. What story does the story and first line inspire you to write?