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.




{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Denise May 25, 2013 at 7:02 am

I love this, Linda!
This may be just the push I need right now!
Stuart McLean’s quote is so simple, yet profound.
I’d love to join you!

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Linda Hoye May 25, 2013 at 11:53 am

Great, Denise! Happy to have you join in!

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Shirley Hershey Showalter May 25, 2013 at 7:06 am

Linda, as someone whose full-time job has been to finish a book in the last year, I can testify that your decision to keep writing while you are working is an excellent one. I started work on my book (while working foulltime in executive-level jobs) before I knew I was writing a book. I probably didn’t write 500 words/day on it until I retired, but I took writing retreats and wrote several thousand words at a time (another option). Now I’m focusing on pre-publication marketing and not on writing, so I won’t be joining you now, but I will be following your progress and cheering you on! Don’t wait to retire; go for it now.

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Linda Hoye May 25, 2013 at 11:54 am

As I am following your publication journey and cheering you on, Shirley!

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Joyce Spurgin May 25, 2013 at 9:27 am

Great idea, Linda. I’ll join you for this week, but perhaps only five days. Remind in a week to set a new goal. LOL

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Linda Hoye May 25, 2013 at 11:54 am

Great!

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Joyce Spurgin May 25, 2013 at 9:59 am

I just quickly wrote 650 words about this week of storms in Oklahoma. It came quickly because I mainly wrote what I have already written in texts or in emails.

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Linda Hoye May 25, 2013 at 11:55 am

Joyce, I remember seeing your post on FB when the monster was closing in. I am so glad you are safe and certain you have much material as a result.

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Sherrey Meyer May 25, 2013 at 2:22 pm

Linda, a couple of challenges I committed to earlier this year — the A to Z Blog Challenge and Sue Mitchell’s challenge to write at least 10 minutes each day BEFORE looking at the Internet or emails — showed me the need for consistency in how and when I write. Since I just returned from an 11-day trip, I need to get back in the groove. I’m choosing to start out slow and build — 250 words/day for the next week! Keep writing!

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Linda Hoye May 25, 2013 at 3:55 pm

My hat is off to you for doing the A to Z Challenge, Sherrey. Thatès got to be a tough one. 250 words is a perfect goal for getting back into the routine. It can be a challenge to settle in after a long time of being away, I find. Good luck with your goal!

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Sherrey Meyer May 30, 2013 at 2:34 pm

Linda, I’m writing to let you know that I’ve had to push back from my new goal. I was hit with a vicious virus while we’re raveling in mid-May and while I thought I was getting better, I’ve still not reached 100%. My days and nights are full of sleeping, and still no energy or stamina for a full day. Today my doctor has advised to give into my body and rest for a few more days to see if that helps. If not, she’s advising tests. ARGH! When all is said and done, and I am a healthy writer again, I will begin my 250/day and grow from there. In the meantime, I’ll do well to keep up with my blog schedule. Good luck to you and the others. :)

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Grace Peterson May 28, 2013 at 3:37 pm

Hi Linda, Congratulations. This is spoken like a true writer. We have to write, don’t we?

Actually, having completed two books now, one published, one in my publisher’s queue, I’m focusing on the marketing aspect. I still have my blogs and my garden column and if I didn’t have a full time job, what joy it would be to sit and my computer and let the words flow from my brain.

Best wishes for the success of your writing endeavors. I’ll be watching to see what develops. I know it will be good.

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Linda Hoye May 28, 2013 at 5:20 pm

I’m so excited for you right now, Grace! I can’t wait to read your book(s) as soon as I can. Marketing can be a challenge, I’ll be watching you on your journey as well. And yes, I know what you mean about how lovely it would be not to have to fit writing in along with a full-time job!

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Lynne Miller November 25, 2013 at 1:21 pm

Thanks for posting this, Linda. Writers must tone their writing “muscles” to stay in shape so I am making a commitment to 500 words a day.

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