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75 Day Writing Challenge: Momentum

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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.
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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