Featured

Coffee Klatch

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

Eight days and counting. I’m continuing to focus on my 75 Day Writing Challenge. I get a little antsy, though, because there is so much I want to do. In addition to becoming a writer, I want to make art as a regular part of my life. I want to clean and organize my house. And there is the ever-present issue of my health and weight. I know that if I try to work on all of this at once, I won’t have the focus to complete anything.

This 75 Day Writing Challenge is going so well. I thought that when I finish it, I will start a new challenge. I think my next challenge could be a 75 Day Health and Wellness challenge. I still don’t want to do 75 Hard, but I could choose five tasks that fit with my personal goals and fitness level. After that I could do some sort of arts and craft challenge and maybe a home organizing challenge.

I am hoping that completing these challenges will help me to build in the habits I want to establish in my life slowly. At the end of six months or however long it takes me, I will have a more balanced and productive life. When I get tired or discouraged, I remind myself that the time is going to pass anyway whether I’m working on the challenge or not. By the end of the 75 days, at least I will have something to show for my effort.

Today, I completed these tasks…

  1. Wrote for 30 minutes
  2. Read Scrappy Rough Draft for 30 minutes
  3. Read The Scottish Prisoner
  4. Read and took revision notes on Sins of the Father
  5. Wrote this blog post
Featured

75 Day Writing Challenge: All or Nothing

With the Easter holiday, I wasn’t able to complete all my tasks for today. I had to get up early and do my lesson plans for tomorrow. I didn’t dare write first and then save my lesson plans for the evening, because I didn’t know how long we would be gone. Does that mean I have to start the challenge over? Do I have to call tomorrow Day 1? If I made that a rule, I would probably be doing this challenge forever. As committed as I am to this challenge, I know there may be days like today when I can’t quite finish everything.

One thing I am learning from this challenge is that I don’t have to be perfect to complete it. Sometimes, when I am trying to meet a goal, like writing or losing weight, I succumb to all or nothing thinking. I think that if I can’t complete every aspect of the goal every day, I’ve failed and I give up. Instead of focusing on perfection, I need to focus on progress. Maybe, I don’t perform perfectly every day, but at least I am progressing. I think focusing on what I accomplish instead of on what I don’t accomplish will keep me on the right track.

Today, I accomplished these tasks…

  1. Wrote for 30 minutes
  2. Read Scrappy Rough Draft for 30 minutes
  3. Read The Scottish Prisoner for 30 minutes
  4. Wrote this blog post

Featured

75 Day Writing Challenge: Momentum

Photo by Natasha on Unsplash

I seem to be gaining momentum. For the past several months, when I would think about sitting down to write, I would cringe. It’s something I think about all the time but, for some reason, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I’ve also been putting off revising the novel I wrote in 2018. I knew that I needed to read it before I revised it but I plunged in and started to rewrite it. The revisions soon stalled, of course, because I didn’t have a clear picture of the overall scheme of my novel. Yet, thinking about reading my novel also made me cringe. Another thing I wanted to do was study the process of writing. After teaching writing for over 20 years and writing off and on for nearly 50 years, you would think that I wouldn’t have any more to learn. While I’ve kept my academic writing skills honed, my creative writing skills have begun to rust.

Starting this challenge has helped me to gain momentum on all these things. I am writing for at least 30 minutes every day and I have read and taken notes on eight chapters of my novel. One thing I’ve realized is that it’s not as bad as I thought. I dreaded reading my novel because I thought when I read it, I would discover that it was crap. My draft is not perfect, but it’s not crap either. I think with some revision and editing, I can create something that I can publish. I’m not sure why this particular challenge is working when all my other attempts to create a writing habit has failed, but I’m not going to question my progress. I’m committed to keeping increasing my momentum.

Today, I accomplished these tasks…

  1. I wrote for 30 minutes.
  2. I read Scrappy First Draft for 30 minutes.
  3. I read and took notes on Chapter 6-8 of Sins of the Father (https://musing550.blog/2018/11/).
  4. I read The Scottish Prisoner for 30 minutes.
  5. I wrote this blog post.
Featured

75 Day Writing Challenge: Excuses…

Photo by Ryan Johns on Unsplash

The mission statement at the school where I teach reads, “All students, regardless of background or skill level, will have the opportunity to pursue a growth mindset that will allow them to achieve mastery and to demonstrate they can succeed in high school, in college, and in their chosen career. No Exceptions. No Excuses.” The new Head of School and I were talking about the concept of excuses. What does that mean? “No Excuses.” There can never be an excuse? We were talking about our late work policy which is rather strict. Students begin to lose credit on their papers for being one class period late. The example we talked about is a student who turned his paper in late because he is homeless and living in his car. He couldn’t turn his paper in on time because he had no access to internet. Is that a valid excuse? Should he be given full credit for his paper? Another student says she couldn’t turn in her paper because she just didn’t get around to it. Is that a valid excuse? We decided that a distinction must be made between a reason and an excuse. Being homeless and unable to access the internet until a person gets to school is a reason for turning in an assignment late. Not getting around to an assignment is more of an excuse.

I began to think about my writing challenge. What would constitute a reason for not being able to complete my writing challenge on a certain day and what would be an excuse. Yesterday, I woke up with a horrible headache and upset stomach. As the morning progressed, I began to feel worse and worse and ended up taking a sick day. If I’m too sick to go to work, wouldn’t it be reasonable that I would be too sick to write? By evening, I was feeling a lot better, so I decided that if I didn’t write, it would just be an excuse. If I had a 100 degree fever and still felt ill, then perhaps I would have had a reason for not writing.

In the past, I have made a lot of excuses for not writing. I don’t have time. I have to cook dinner. I have to clean the house. I don’t feel like it right now. When I really put my mind to it, I am able to confront all those excuses and write. I made time to write by using my lunch hour to write. I still have to cook dinner but instead of sitting on the couch after dinner, I sit back down at the dining room table and write. I write instead of cleaning the house. I don’t feel like writing, but I do it anyway. The funny thing I’ve found about this challenge is that the words are coming more easily, so I don’t need to find excuses to avoid writing. In the morning, I start to think about my blog post and what else I can say about the writing challenge and my brain obliges with an idea. As I drive to school in the morning, I think about the story I’m writing and my brain tells me what is going to happen next. This writing challenge is actually priming my brain to write. It gives me reasons to write rather than excuses to avoid writing.

Today, I have accomplished these tasks…

  1. Wrote for 30 minutes
  2. Read Scrappy Rough Draft for 30 minutes
  3. Read and wrote revision notes on Chapter 4-6 in Sins of the Father (https://musing550.blog/2018/11/)
  4. Finished reading Magical Midlife Love and began reading The Scottish Prisoner
  5. Wrote this blog post
Featured

75 Day Writing Challenge: Habits

Last night, after I ate dinner, I mindlessly went to sit on the couch and pick up my IPad. I had to consciously stop myself and make myself turn around. I realized that sitting on the couch after dinner and playing a game or reading on my IPad has become a habit, an automatic behavior that I no longer question. By consciously making the decision to sit down at the table and work on my writing, I made one small change in my routine.

According to James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, small changes like the one I made can lead to bigger changes down the road: “The difference a tiny improvement can make over time is astounding. Here’s how the math works out: if you can get 1 percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done. Conversely, if you get 1 percent worse each day for one year, you’ll decline nearly down to zero. What starts as a small win or a minor setback accumulates into something much more” (p. 15). That’s the benefit of doing a challenge like 75 Hard or my own personalized challenge. Challenges like these call for you to make small changes to your life and follow them long enough to make them stick. I have seen differing estimations for how long it takes to form a habit. Some books I have read say that you can form a new habit in as little as 14 days while others say that forming a habit can take as long as four to six weeks. I think the length of time varies so much, because each person is unique and has their own way of thinking and behaving. Some of us may be able to change our habits in a relatively short amount of time while others may take longer. I am hoping that by the end of my 75 day challenge I will have made writing a habit that sticks.

Today, I completed the following tasks…

  1. Wrote for 30 minutes
  2. Read Scrappy Rough Draft for 30 minutes
  3. Read Chapter 4 of Sins of the Father and completed Revision Notes
  4. Read Magical Midlife Love for 30 minutes
  5. Wrote this blog post