A Challenge

May 24, 2013 · 14 comments

in Writing Life

By the time my memoir Two Hearts launched last year I was exhausted. I had spent the previous four years writing, revising, remembering, and compiling my story into something that, according to many readers, reads like a novel. The elation I felt the first time I held a proof copy of the book in my hands was a combination of a sense of accomplishment for having finished it and a kind of personal acceptance for finally owning my story and being willing to let go of the secrets.

As anyone who has published a book knows though, my work was far from done, there was still the work of promoting and marketing my story and, in many ways, that’s harder than writing the book. I haven’t done as much as I could in this area and I’m okay with that. The book continues to sell, I get royalty payments every month, and I’m respectfully contributing to the conversation about adoption in my way and my time.

I had a couple of ideas percolating even before Two Hearts launched about my next writing project. There were two specific projects I was toying with and I’ve dabbled with both of them one without making a firm commitment to either. I decided that I wouldn’t get serious about writing another book until I retired and had more time.

Over the past year I’ve written a blog post here at least once a week, written pieces for Adoption Voices Magazine and Midlife Bloggers, done a monthly piece for my writing group, written a couple of chapters for one book, and played with character studies for the other.

Recently, I’ve felt at loose ends not having a specific project to work on. I’ve been frustrated, when I do write, to find it harder to find the right words. I am coming to realize that my choice not to commit to a project until I retire may not have been the right one and so I’m changing my mind and diving in.

This morning as I scrolled through updates from my Facebook peeps I came across a post from Stuart McLean. Stuart, sometimes known as “Canada’s Storyteller”, is a best-selling author and host of my favourite radio program, The Vinyl Café. Underneath a photograph of him peering thoughtfully at the screen of his laptop were these words:

How to be a writer. Write 500 words a day. Every day.  Sometimes it comes fast. Sometimes it doesn’t. Eventually it adds up.

It’s simple. Anyone who professes to be a writer knows it to be true. But life sometimes has a way of intruding on goals we set for ourselves and before you know it a year has passed and you don’t have any good material to show for it.

So, I’ve decided to challenge myself to write 500 words a day.

The thing about a challenge, much like a New Year’s resolution, is that you can start out like gangbusters and quickly become overwhelmed and those best intentions fall by the wayside. For that reason, I’m limiting this challenge to every day for the next week and at the end of the week I’ll re-evaluate and set the next milestone.

Maybe I’ll ultimately end up choosing to write 500 words a day five days a week. Or maybe I’ll cut back to writing 250 words a day three days a week until I retire. The point is that I’m going to set a goal be deliberate about carving out time to write.

I’m inviting you to join me in setting a writing goal for the next week, month, season, year or whatever works for you. Grab a badge at the end of this post and use it to make your own writing commitment (a link back to this post would be gratefully appreciated). Let’s do this. Let’s be deliberate. Let’s commit to our writing goals.




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