If you follow me on Instagram, there is no doubt you already know this, but..
I’m in the middle of the self-assigned challenge of writing every day for 100 days. Sounds both crazy and wonderful, right? The original idea is not my own, four years ago Elle Luna (@elleluna) and Lindsay Thomson (@lindsayjeanthomson) brought the 100 day project to life. The sentiment behind is that whatever it is you choose to do for 100 days, you’ll be sort of an expert in by the end of it. It invites you to pick something you are curious and excited about, define your own exact project rules, and then commit to this one thing for 100 consecutive ways.
For me, after a lot of pondering, that was writing. At first I wanted to be quite specific, and write 100 short stories, but realistically that would have just set me up for disappointment and the ever-lingering thought in the back of my mind that I was failing. I redefined my initial idea and made my own project rules clear to me: write something every day, be it a short story, a haiku, a journal entry, a fleeting thought, a first sentence, a paragraph added to one of my maybe-one-day novels – anything is fine. Furthermore, it is also okay to not write on some days, as long as I have a very good reason (think mind-set-on-fire migraines) and still think about story development, or about what to write on the next day. And lastly, I have to collect every written bit in one place. At first I wanted this place to be my Story Highlights on Instagram, to keep me motivated and accountable, to show up every day, however around day 15 I noticed that that put more pressure on me than I needed, so I switched to storing them all in a file on my computer, but I still do enjoy sharing snips, my progress and experience during this project on Instagram. Turns out I don’t need this extra push for accountability, I am fully committed and in for the long run.
Adjusting my personal rules made all the difference for me, and I’m enjoying this project so much more now than after the first week, which had me sigh “It’s gonna be along 100 days” more than once.
I can’t back out just because I don’t feel “inspired” or “motivated” or “in the zone” – excuses we probably all know a bit too well – and the effort to push through and write anyway is always always worth it to me.
Not every day will be perfect, or good even. But it will be something, and that’s what counts. It’s about making a commitment, and sticking to it, in flexing your creative muscle and establishing a habit. Every day I write will be better than any day that I don’t write.
Another thing I noticed in this first month of writing daily is the importance of having dedictated time to write, and establishing a little routine around it. I incorporate my writing time into my morning routine, after moving on the yoga mat, and writing out my to-do list for the day (so my head is not as cluttered as it otherwise would be), with my first cup of tea next to me. And on days when that’s not possible I instead make time to sit down and write around sunset. After I cleaned my desk, and put everything from the day behind me, I turn on my salt lamp and essential oil diffuser, and get yet another cup of tea to settle in with my iPad. Sure, on some days I write on the train or on my phone as I cook dinner, and that’s okay too, but these little rituals are essential for me to stay on top of this project.
Now that I make a concious effort to sit down and write, I also noticed that I go about my day a lot more open and aware, if you will. I observe the world around me, and the thoughts in my head a lot more closely, and follow them to see where they might lead me. I draw inspiration from the roads I walk on my commute, trees gently dancing with the wind, my daily struggles as an introvert, a context-less situation I observed on the bus, the birdsong outside my window, the shadows clouds cast on our meadows. It’s something I forgot how to do as I got overwhelmed with responsibilities and work, and I’m so glad to notice this little side-effect of my writing project.
For more infos on the 100 day project check out www.the100dayproject.org.
I’ve originally written this text for my dear friend Sophie’s brilliant newsletter The Writing Habit. She sends out weekly inspiration and writing prompts, and I cannot recommend it enough. If you like to learn more you can read her blog post all about it.
Another amazing newsletter is Elin’s Teacup Owls, which is stock-full of writing inspiration and encouragement as well.