When I started the 100 Days of Writing Challenge on Instagram some time in October last year, I was determined to follow the actual rules: writing on a story every day for a minimum of 20 minutes. Or at least I think these are the rules.
Irons in the fire...
It only took me 9 highly un-productive days ridden with guilt to figure out that this type of challenge doesn't go well with writing a blog. I had written first drafts of three short stories during the summer and wanted to spend some more time on my blog again, so I was wrestling with both of these very different writing projects before I decided to give the challenge a twist and focus on Lit & Pie for 100 days.
This decision turned out to be an excellent chance to get to know - I realize the irony - the blog I wanted to write and figure out what kind of themes and topics I wanted to write about. Although I started this blog 2 years ago this month, I only started writing regularly last year. Also, I learned so much about what I'm interested in. Partly, the topics I wrote about in the last few months are me trying to answer questions I'm asking myself.
Another lesson I learned was that daily writing goals or routines are very difficult to maintain for me with a toddler at home and a job. The only time possible during a day is when the little one sleeps, and most of the time I'm so tired myself that anything beyond reading is just useless. Also, because time is so scarce, I want to do different things sometimes and my mind is just not in writing mode. That is why I'm trying a different time and creativity management approach this year. I'm giving myself weekly goals and weekly topics - with 2 weeks of each month dedicated to story writing. During those weeks I don't read books (except for story research) and I don't write for my blog. I only focus and think about the story and whenever I snatch some minutes here and there I jot down ideas and try to write. Whatever gets done in 2 weeks, gets done. I won't focus on word count because this is out of my control and, after all, I want writing to be fun. So far, the approach of a weekly mind-set and focus has worked for me.
A serial thing
My goal was to have a good dozen blog entries in the pipeline in addition to the running blog entries during the challenge by the end of the 100 days. For some time I had up to 5 blog posts ready in the pipeline but time caught up with me when the Holidays came and by the end of this challenge I am now out of pipeline. Not out of ideas, mind you, but this does mean that I need to get cracking :)
One of the best things about this writing challenge was that I spent more time on Instagram in connection to my blog and I found this amazing free online magazine called Unread that was looking for volunteer writers. I'm with them since December now and I just love it! The team is so talented and welcoming and I've developed so many new ideas working with them. In the next couple of days the new issue will be published featuring my second article so far. Yay!
Another result of the challenge is my 'inspiring biographies' series as well as the monthly 'artist meet-up' for nourishing one's inner artist. Keep your eyes peeled for these ones :)
To me, these developments are thanks to this lengthy period of time I gave myself the chance to focus on my blog and count research as writing time. I didn't type words on each of the 100 days, but I was working on blog articles and topics for 100 days and I hope it shows.
I can only recommend trying out this challenge to anyone who would like to give themselves a serious chance and commitment to writing. If you have children at home, don't force the "daily writing" part too much if it's too difficult. "Daily thinking time" on your writing project is just as valuable and keeps your mind focused on your writing - whenever you get the chance to type. Every day gains momentum and works in your favor, if you set your mind to it.
Let me know if you plan on starting the challenge in the comments below, so I can cheer you on!