WFMAD Day 31 – celebration & reflection

We did it!!!

One entire month (a long one, too! August has 31 days! remind me to do WFMAD in February next year) of daily writing. For those of you who rose above your doubts and fears and met this challenge with daily success, I bow my head in respect and offer my congratulations.

This writing thing is a whole lot harder than it seems.

If you didn’t meet the challenge, please don’t waste any time beating yourself up. Life is too short for that kind of nonsense. Instead, use this as an opportunity to figure why you couldn’t find fifteen minutes a day to write. Were you able to find time each day for other habits? What about those other habits is more rewarding to you than writing?

I am not criticizing or judging. You are the person in charge of your life, not me.

This is the second year I’ve offered this challenge. I do it in response to the most common questions I receive about writing:

1. How can I become a writer?
2. I want to be a writer but I am too busy. How do I change that?

I believe that, at some level, we can all be writers, because we are all natural-born storytellers. I believe that if you have a passion for something, you have necessary seeds of talent. But if your goal is to have your work published, you have to nurture those seeds. Develop the craft. Commit to daily writing and make space in your life for it.

Answers:

1. To be a writer, you must write.
2. Cut out the unnecessary things from your life.

I have a confession to make here. This has been the worst summer of my life. It came after one of the most challenging years of my life. At this point twelve months ago, I was gearing up for the publication of CHAINS. Then I went on book tour. Came home and started on the pre-publicity interviews and craziness for WINTERGIRLS. Then I went on book tour, again. Then I went to Peru. Finally, when I came home from the last roadtrip in May, my mother spun into her final illness. I spent weeks taking care of her and held her as she died. Then we took in a relative who needed a home. Then my father-in-law died.

We’re calling this our Summer of Sorrow. (Alternative title: Summer of Suck.)

Did I write every single day through all that craziness? Hell, no. I did get some scribbling in here and there. Worked on my next book between book tours. Journaled. Wrote emails. But I found it impossible to hold on to the daily discipline that is fundamental to keeping me healthy, not to mention it’s my job.

Orchestrating this challenge has helped me find my pathagain. I’m still kind of a mess, still mourning the deaths of our parents, still pretty damn tired. But I am writing again. Every day. Some days for ten hours or more.

That is one of many beautiful things about our Muse. She is patient and understanding. If life takes you away from the craft, She’ll be there when you get back. It doesn’t matter how many times you fall down; what matters is how many times you get up again.

So thank you for helping me pick myself up and dust myself off.

How has your writing been this month?

Ready…

Today’s advice: "Don’t be a writer. Be writing." William Faulkner

Set….

Today’s prompt: Write about what worked for you this month and what didn’t work. Is your life too complicated to write every day? Why? If it is, how often can you stake out writing time? What needs to change in order for you to feel you have permission to write?

Scribble….Scribble…. Scribble…

18 Replies to “WFMAD Day 31 – celebration & reflection”

  1. The good news is, there was writing, specifically fiction, in my life this month, fitted in around everything else that is going one–the writing that is a current source of income, prep for the course I start teaching tomorrow, spending time with BD before she headed off to Ireland, and figuring out what to do with The Great Sorting that has been the overwhelming theme of this year. There wasn’t as much writing as I had hoped, but it happened and I know how I am going to move forward, at least for the coming semester.

    Thanks for another fine wfmad! And for the fine example of what to do when life dives off the deep end.

    1. I wrote every day this month. Some of the days, I was able to do quality work that will survive until the next draft. Other days, I knew the work wasn’t going to keep, even as I was writing it, but I knew that the slog was the important part so I kept slogging until I did the work. The exercises that helped me the most were the ones where you asked me to think differently about a situation because of an object. These energized my thinking and widened the jar mouth of the story.

      At the end of a long month, I have around ten thousand keeper words and a firmer grasp of my character and the people she cares about.

      Thanks, Laurie. You’ll always be my hero.

  2. I fell off the WFMAD bandwagon and have been struggling to get back on. As silly as this sounds, I haven’t wanted to post here saying “help” because I didn’t want to disappoint you: an author who I’ve met once, someone I doubt I’ll ever meet again. For me, fear of failure, fear of disappointing people important to me… and therefore fear of success is what got in the way.

    This line is the one that got me:

    What needs to change in order for you to feel you have permission to write?

    This, along with the earlier “don’t beat yourself up” is what will get me going. This month has been good, if for no other reason than identifying some of my fears so I can deal with them and Write Dammit!

    thanks.

  3. My participation in WFMAD has been sporadic, but some of the prompts have really helped me. Today’s, for example. I’m a musician, and while writing this, I realized that what helps me with writing also helps with music. The hardest part of practicing is starting- once I’m in my studio and the horn is out of it’s case, everything is much easier. Once I sit down and start to write, it’s not hard to keep going. For years I’ve been more dilligent about practicing than about writing. Now that I’ve discovered that parallel, I can use strategies that helped me practice to help me write.

    Sorry for going on, I just thought I’d share in case there are any other musician/writer types reading. Thanks for the prompts and the inspiration.

  4. admiration

    I read this blog often but don’t think I have ever commented. This was a lovely post and encouraging to those of us with ordinary obstacles to climb over.–hart

  5. Hope you will have a better year. I went through the Spring of Suck a few months ago. A close relative died, two more got cancer, I developed a plethora of health and anxiety disorders, and went through a lot of other stuff, bad enough that I had to go to counseling. But this summer, I’ve been a lot happier, and I hope the fall will bring great things for you.

  6. You’ve played a major role in inspiring me throughout my journey as a writer. I wrote a letter to you years ago, and you offered me some great advice that has really helped me in my writing. That letter and the more recent discovery of your blog have helped motivate me once again to set aside time to write. I cannot thank you enough.

    Sorry to hear about your “Summer of Sorrow.” I pray that things will get better soon for you.

  7. Thank you so very, very much for doing this challenge! And thank you for posting it on Twitter. That’s how I found out about it and I can’t tell you how much I’ve loved it. I’ve learned many new things, I’ve developed a daily writing habit, and I’ve enjoyed every bit of it, even the boring “slogging till it’s over” days. You are wonderful. Thank you for sharing your life, wisdom, and words with us.
    –Kiirsi

  8. I wanted to thank you for the WFMAD challenge. I participated last year and this year in the hopes of learning to carve time out of my life for me and my interests. I hope that the Fall and the coming year bring much happiness to you and your family.

  9. Thank you

    I failed after three days. But you’re right. It’s a great opportunity to see why I failed. It’s the same reason I fail at the other stuff too. Time for a change, I think. Your words were frank and incisive. Thank you and take care of yourself.

  10. I spent a lot of this month doing other things, either due to work or to being away on holiday for a week, and unable to check the blog each day for prompts.
    However the idea of writing just fifteen minutes a day, getting that routine stuck. When I couldn’t get the prompts I just wrote. When I could I followed them.
    It has been good, very good. It is helping to establish a routine that I would like to expand. Without being part of something bigger, just knowing other folks were doing this was a boon, I wouldn’t have stuck with it.
    Thank you.
    Scott

  11. Laurie-
    Even though it’s a day late, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you. I attempted to complete the challenge last year, but I stopped after one day. This year, I decided to use the time to start journaling, and I wrote every day besides one. Thank you for providing me with the motivation to start something I’ve always wanted to do.
    By this time, I hope you’ve received my thank you note. I truly appreciate the time you spent arranging for the safe arrival of the package and its contents, especially knowing what you were going through in your personal life. Your strength inspires me. I hope this fall brings you happiness because you honestly deserve it.
    -Bridgette
    Sister of the Book Shirt

  12. 15 minutes a day

    While reading about the 15-minutes-of-writing a day, I thought about the way that’s easy for me when it comes to journalling or letters, but I never do it for fiction. Then I remembered that yes indeed I have — I’ve written erotic fiction/fantasy to give to my sweetheart — but it was sometimes hard to write for 15 minutes because I’d get so turned on while writing! Now gee, I’m thinking I ought to harness some of that energy for another kind of writing. Thanks for the prompt. – Kate in Saskatchewan (http://goldengrainfarm.blogspot.com)

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