Some of my fondest childhood memories involve swimming. The daycare taking us all to Muir beach. A car full of neighborhood kids headed to the big public pool a few towns over. Daily swimming lessons with neighborhood friends in the summers. Slowly climbing the “big diving board,” staring down at the water as everyone behind me in line yelled for me to jump and get out the way and climbing slowly back down the ladder – until one year, I made the leap – making it possible for me to eventually obtain “junior lifeguard” status. My convent days put an end to my habit and love of swimming – and raising children, I didn’t make it a priority.
Arthritis has crept into my knees over the last few years, so in May, I dove back into swimming. Perhaps, more accurately, I tip-toed. I found two pools within a 15-min bike ride and began “staying in motion” for an hour a few times a week. Slowly I improved in endurance and form. Now I’m swimming thirty 20-yard lengths an hour, breaststroke.
I’ve been amazed at my progress! And I realized that with the proper equipment and consistent practice, I got better.
I couldn’t help but wonder, what else could I apply this awareness to?
And today it dawned on me: writing!
So, I announce my intention to spend at least one hour a day writing. I will write. I won’t publish everything I write each day – but I will write. Some days I’ll write more, but my intention is to not write less. And everything I write for paying clients doesn’t count. I will write blog posts, personal essays and fiction. I will practice with prompts. I will sometimes write nonsense. But I will write.
Why? – you might ask…
Let me share five reasons for establishing a daily writing habit. Please share your own.
One: The Outlier theory
In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell popularized the theory developed by Paula and Roger Barnsley that suggests if an individual devotes 10,000 hours to a talent or skill, they will master it and rise to the top. That’s about 3 hours every day for 10 years! While I’ve certainly given many hours to writing – for school, for pleasure, and for work – I’ve NOT devoted 10,000 hours.
So, today I am setting the intention to write – NOT for work – at least one hour each day. Perhaps then, I will be able to finish the novel(s) I began writing many years ago. Perhaps then, I will complete the various manuscripts I’ve started for a book of essays, children’s books, and poetry.
Yes, I’ve self-published three works already: a children’s book about raising butterflies, a memoir about my years in the convent, and a nonprofit strategy, communications, and fundraising book. In full disclosure – I believe they are interesting but aren’t excellent. So, I don’t market them much.
Do you write for a certain amount of time every day? Why?
Two: A dream without a plan remains a dream
I’ve had dreams – not plans – of being a writer most of my life. At the age of 12, I was determined to write my life story because I was convinced I would die young. But, alas, I kept living and so my story kept going and I stopped writing.
During my convent years, I wrote two academic theology papers, an educational paper, and a personal essay that my professors wanted to publish in industry journals, but my convent superiors would not allow it. They insisted it would make me too proud.
Every few years, since leaving the convent I’ve dug into my writing – spending time, attending conferences and workshops, taking classes. I went through some rounds of agent queries with some nibbles, but nothing came of it – and life “got in the way.”
I did write and self-publish the aforementioned books but I didn’t do the work to PLAN for proper editing and marketing.
So, with my intention today, I will PLAN, first to write. I will continue to study the craft of both writing and self-publishing. I will turn my dream into a plan to become a novelist.
Do you have a plan to become a published author? What have you learned is important to include in your plan?
Three: Eight hours can be easily wasted
About a month ago, I realized with a profundity that should embarrass me – that every day has 24 hours! (Duh!)
I have 24 hours to do with it what I will. Here’s my math – but I’d encourage you to calculate your own.
- Sleep: 7-8 hours a night. 24 – 8 = 16.
- Average workday: 7 hours. 16 – 7 = 9.
- Household chores: My children are no longer at home: I’m not the family taxi, cook fewer meals and wash fewer dishes and less laundry. All told my “household chores” take less than an hour a day. 9 – 1 = 8.
- Exercise: 1.5-2 hours daily. 8 – 2 = 6.
- Relaxation: I read (1 hour), do jigsaw puzzles (30 min), eat (1 hour). 6 – 2.5 = 3.5. And enjoy some television (do I need 3.5 hours or more a day?).
If I stop aimlessly scrolling through social media and doom-viewing the news, I can certainly find 1 hour a day to dedicate to my writing.
Do you have something other than writing you’d like to do more of? What is your calculation?
Four: Medium.com changed its rules
For the last few years, I’ve posted much of what I write for my personal blog and my professional blog on Medium.com. I joined the Partner Program which means that I’ve seen a few pennies dribble in each month when others with paid membership read my articles. But now, Medium has changed its rules. To remain in the Partner Program, you need to have 100 followers and publish somewhat regularly. And the money won’t be released to your bank account until you’ve hit $10. One article I wrote was picked up for distribution by the Medium “curators,” but all told, I think in my 2 years publishing on Medium, I’ve amassed about $10.
So, if I want to continue being in the Partner Program, I’ll need to dig in to intentionally grow my following and publish more consistently. Or I’ll need to quit. We’ll see how it goes. If you’re interested in becoming a Medium.com member, you can do so here. And if you wish to subscribe to my posts on Medium, you can do so here. (In full disclosure, these are affiliate links so I would receive funds if you become a member or subscribe.)
Are you a Medium writer? Which other platforms do you use to share your writing?
Five: I have stuff to say
I’ve always had something to say. In high school, my English teacher said that my best friend and I were the only two people she knew who would take 12-pages to summarize a 10-page story!
And anyone who knew me then, knows I was opinionated. About lots of things. With age, my opinions are less dogmatic. I question and I wonder. I offer my experience and my thoughts on a variety of topics – and I will certainly still challenge injustice. I’ll be interested to see how quickly I run out of things to say. I’m not sure anyone wants to hear what I have to say – but I have stuff I want and need to say. So, I will write.
How about you? Where do you find your inspiration? What do you write about?