Posts Tagged With: writer

Habits: An Unfortunate Truth

The moment I wrote that 501st word on the final day of my first-ever writing challenge, a wave of excitement flushed through me. By the time I had finished my post and published it, I was on cloud nine.

Had I really done it? Was it really possible that I had written 15,000+ words over the past month? I didn’t know how I’d done it, but I was amazed. As the numbers sunk in, I thought Wow. This is something I can really be proud of. 

Just a month earlier, I had repeatedly sat in my apartment, wondering why I had wasted so much time not writing. I had done everything but write. I had been living in Korea (for the second time) for over nine months at that point, and had barely written anything at all in that time – and not for lack of subject matter. There were a ton of things I could have written about – my travels, day trips around Korea, my job teaching English, or what my daily life in Busan is like as an expat, to name a few.

But I didn’t. I just let day after day slip away, without a trace. No words or stories to remember them by. No evidence that they even occurred. There I was, in a great position to write some original and unique content, wasting this incredible opportunity I had. The voice in the back of my head (everyone has one, right!?) certainly didn’t approve. As each day passed, I could hear it growing more and more agitated with my general lack of motivation and productivity. You’re not always going to be living abroad, with unlimited experiences to write about, it would tell me. Stop wasting this adventure and get cracking!

Thankfully, my routine of avoiding that voice eventually stopped – with the start of the writing challenge.

But somehow, a week has already passed since I successfully completed it. So now, it’s truth time.

Have I written since then?

The short/truthful answer: hardly.

The answer I’m tempted to give: hardly, but…it’s because ___________ (insert every excuse I can think of here).

Sure, being busy or tired or lazy are all reasons why I couldn’t write every day this week, but are they good ones?

No.

So far, I’ve only written two days this week, and I can tell you that after writing for 31 days straight, it feels weird. It feels like I’m shirking a responsibility; like I’m getting away with something I shouldn’t be.

This week hasn’t been completely useless, though – it’s taught me a little about habits. In order for something to truly become a habit, there has to be doing involved. There needs to be some sort of action. Simply thinking about doing something doesn’t cut it. Since finishing the writing challenge, I still think about writing every day. When I wake up every morning, the intention to write is always there, but the follow-through, sometimes, is not. And that’s the most important part.

People say all it takes to build a habit is to do something repeatedly for a certain number of days. Sounds pretty reasonable, right? Maybe even easy. But I think there’s a lot more to it than that. Habits are not just going to sustain themselves, because you dedicated X number of days to them initially. They’re not going to reward you for your good behaviour – unless you put the work in to deserve the reward.

Just because I built up a writing habit during the last month doesn’t mean that the work is going to do itself from now on.

Without effort and dedication, habits can disappear just as quickly as they appeared in the first place.

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Categories: My 500 Words, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I did it!

Thirty-one days ago, I started a writing challenge called “My 500 Words.”

Since then, I’ve been writing at least 500 words every single day. While every day has been significant in its own way, today, January 10, is the most special.

Why? Because it’s day 31 of my 31-day challenge. That means: I DID IT! Day 31 is finally here – the finish line!

The fact that I accomplished this may not seem like a lot on the grand scheme of things, but to me, it means so much – and here’s why.

For the past few years, I’ve been playing with the idea of being a writer; mulling it over in my mind, entertaining it, but never knowing for sure if I could really do it. Sure, it sounded nice – being able to work at home if I wanted to, or from anywhere else in the world, for that matter.

In recent years, my interest in and desire to travel has increased significantly, and I began to wonder if maybe there was a way to fit writing into some sort of travel lifestyle. The idea that if (or, more likely, when) my wanderlust got too strong, I could take my work on the road with me, became more and more appealing. A career in writing might just give me the freedom that I’ve always craved; to be able to pack up and go with relative ease, at any time.

Go where? Who knows! Everywhere. The answer is everywhere.

So, there I was, with all these ideas swimming around in my head; dreams for the future. That’s all they really were – dreams – because I didn’t have the confidence to see if I could make them come true. I didn’t have the guts to see if I could really write. I just thought about writing, and imagined how it would feel to be a successful writer someday. Maybe one day, I’d write a column for The New York Times. Maybe I’d be sent off to explore the globe on assignment for National Geographic Traveler. Or maybe, I’d build a successful travel blog with a massive audience. People all around the world would be following me religiously, awaiting my every move with baited breath. Where is she off to next? they’d wonder. What adventures will she get up to this time? 

Okay, I’ll admit it. Maybe that last one is a little extreme – but you get the idea! My dreams had no limits.

I realized something when I stumbled upon Jeff Goins‘ blog, though. Miraculously, I discovered that the key to being a writer of any sort…was to start writing! 

If I never got any words down on a page, I could be absolutely certain that I’d never get the chance to write for any of those esteemed publications I’d been dreaming about. In fact, I’d never even be able to call myself a writer at all, regardless of whether I wrote for a living or just for pleasure, with no one ever seeing it.

That’s what this writing challenge has done for me. It’s given me the motivation I needed to start doing the real work – to start writing. Each day, I wake up knowing that at some point during the day, I need to write. And knowing that I will.

Now that I’ve gotten into this habit, it’s not so much a question of whether I’ll write today, but a question of what I’ll write about. During the past month, I’ve written about all kinds of things – some of which I’ve posted to my blog, and some I’ve written just for myself. I’ve written about my travels, my struggles, my thoughts, my questions, and my feelings. I’ve written about books I’ve read, holidays I’ve endured away from home, and people I’ve met.

While not all of my writing this month has been earth-shattering, I’m still proud of it. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished. I’m even proud of what I wrote on the days when I just didn’t feel like writing, because those days were the hardest, and yet I still managed to get something down.

This journey hasn’t been easy, but it was one of the best decisions I’ve made in awhile, and it’s something I know I’ll be grateful I accomplished 10 years down the road.

Now, it’s time for me to celebrate.

Happy writing, everyone!

Categories: My 500 Words, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The challenge begins!

So, here I am on the first day of this new adventure. For the next 31 days straight, I’ll be writing at least 500 words every single day. About what, you ask? Who knows! It’ll be a surprise for you and me!

I didn’t get up early this morning like I had planned – but, I got up. Here I am, typing away behind my computer screen. That’s the most important part. That’s what counts.

I’ve already accomplished the hardest part of this challenge – actually starting.

So now that I’ve done that, what will I write about?

Well, I want to begin by talking about the hardest part – the part where you actually start writing something. It seems silly when you think about it. How can simply writing be the hardest part of a writing challenge? It doesn’t make much sense.

But, it really is true. This is something I’ve struggled with for months. Maybe even for the last few years. Believe me – if I had an answer for you, I’d tell you. There’s something about writing, especially for the web, that’s intimidating. For a writer, it can be hard to share your writing with others. What you write can be very personal at times, and you’re afraid that if you put your thoughts, ideas, or feelings out there for the world to read, somebody might take it as an opportunity to pounce on you. Somebody might disagree with you. Someone might tell you you’re wrong. Someone else may hate what you write.

These are all major concerns for someone who cares a lot about what other people think of them. In fact, it’s a recipe for an ego-squashing disaster.

You want to post an emotional story about that amazing thing that happened today, but in the few moments that your mouse hovers above the “Publish” button, an anxious string of thoughts arises. What will people think if I post this? Will they think I’m lame? Will they think it’s stupid? Will they even read it? What if NO ONE reads it!? Then I will look even more lame!!

If I’m being honest with myself, these kinds of thoughts are probably the worst enemy I’ve met along my writing journey so far, not the angry mobs who hate my writing that I imagined in my head.

For many people who want to be writers (myself included at times), the fear of how others will perceive them is what holds them back the most.

This is something I’ve been working on. It’s not easy to put yourself out there. It takes courage to share a big part of yourself with someone else, let alone offering it up to the world! But, that’s what writers do. They write – and regardless of whether they write fiction, fantasy, or an autobiography – those words come from their minds. They reveal a big part of who they are.

It’s time for me to fully embrace what it means to be a writer, and to give myself the opportunity to find my voice. It’s time to stop worrying about what other people will think, and just let myself be free to write, whatever and whenever I want.

I’m finally ready to make a change.

That’s why I signed up for this challenge. How can I call myself a writer if I don’t write?

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Are you ready to make the leap, too? Join Jeff Goins‘ 31-day writing challenge, my 500 words!

Categories: My 500 Words, Writing | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

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