This latest post is initially brought to you from the lounge of the Maylands Hotel, armed with the iPad & a glass of wine, awaiting the monthly Writers of Adelaide face to face meeting.
Such a setting – writing ahead of a meeting to discuss writing – provides a good example of my writing life since I commenced the #100DaysOfWriting challenge at the beginning of October. The aim being to get a little bit more discipline back into the writing practice, particularly on the WIP.
Now that I’m half way through the first month I feel it is time to reflect on the early stages that I’ve experienced with the challenge so far.
For those new to this particular approach to writing practice, it is an Instagram driven challenge, created on a whim by British novelist, Jennifer Ashworth. For her it was a way to fall back in love with the WIP after her writing routine got out of whack. It didn’t take long for it to take off on social media and is now a considerable movement.
Regarded as a gentle way of getting a writing routine up – being more of a carrot than a stick approach – the main premise is that via Instagram you show evidence of having presented to your writing. You can be either at the desk in the study, the kitchen table, a cafe or bar, the train or even the lunchroom during a quick break at work. So yes on day #15 as I began to generate this piece, I presented to the writing sitting in a comfy lounge chair and typing away with a very nice glass of Down the Rabbit Hole Tempranillo by my side (yes it is the glass of red in the photo).
Even the day before (day #14 of the challenge) had me presenting to the writing at Norwood Cibo when I was able to squeeze in some time before the weekly grocery shop. The challenge, I’ve therefore found, is a really great way of showing that you can sit down to write anywhere. I no longer feel that need to only write when in the study and in front of my desktop computer. I now can write whenever and wherever I can.
Having said that the desktop computer and study is still my primary modus operandi and it will probably always be that way.
One of the other delights of this challenge is that it doesn’t matter if you don’t actually write any words that day, the aim is to just present yourself to it. Even if you take a photo of you procrastinating that still counts.
So with that all in mind, how have I fared with this task you may ask?
The answer is not quite that simple.
I presented every day for the first 10 days, which given my crazy life is quite good. Even when I was on a roll with the WIP earlier this year I was only looking at it two or three days a week at best, so this is significant progress.
However the bad news is that I’ve been presenting to the writing on most occasions at the end of the day, after I had finished work, made dinner and dealt with other chores. As a result I’ve been often so tired that there has been very little new writing, opting instead to do research or reading through some notes as that was all one’s fried brain could cope with.
However on some nights I have been amazed to find that I would start the session initially dog tired, but as the writing unfolded I seemed to become energised. This has also meant that I tended to head off to bed way later than I should. It is therefore no surprise that this challenge has coincided with sleep deprivation.
Then there have been the occasions when I have made a breakthrough with the WIP when I have least expected it and on the verge of switching off for the night. A good example was the night I suddenly found a pivotal scene in a chapter that come together all of a sudden after months of trying to work out just how it was going to happen.
So then after presenting to the challenge 10 days straight and thinking this was all ticketyboo, the rest of life kicked in on days 11,12 and 13. It would end up being day 14 before I picked up the challenge again. But not all was lost. During this three day hiatus while I didn’t physically present to the writing, I did find I was still writing mentally during this period, particularly on day 13 . What is it about getting inspiration while in the shower? Yes, one of life’s great creative mysteries.
In fact when returning on day 14 I was able to get that shower inspiration down and now it looks like the idea will fly, so maybe I can count day 13 to the challenge after all!
So inch by inch I am noticing the development of some sort of writing discipline, even it is only 15-30 minutes a day. I should point out however this challenge hasn’t been totally about minutes of writing snatched here and there. Some days have indeed resulted in writing bouts that have lasted a couple of hours or more. However a full day of writing has yet to emerge since I’ve started this caper but I am sure it will happen by the time I reach day 100.
What have I found now just over two weeks in is that this gentle prompt nevertheless works. I feel now that the day is not quite complete if I haven’t presented to my writing and by default the #100DaysOfWriting challenge.
Looking back at these last few days, I now believe I have experienced in a microcosm the writer’s existence in all its forms. From snatching any writing time when one can (even late at night), thinking of plot and character while doing chores and being very grumpy if the writing doesn’t happen.
And that is the quiet beauty of #100DaysOfWriting. Organically the writing practice seemingly evolves around you. It’s still not a finely tuned discipline yet, but it definitely feels as though it is baby steps in the right direction. Stay tuned for what happens during the remaining 83 days.