This past week, I strolled through my Facebook notifications when I happened to see this…
…a badge the administrators of the 365 Writing Club on Facebook awarded to me. According to the status, I got the award for “fighting against doubt and uncertainty and…taking [his] confidence to new levels.” I was at a loss for words when I saw this. Not to mention the comments congratulating me for all the work I put in this year. I wrote more than I had in years past, but I don’t think I made such great strides. When it came to commenting on goals and updates for my group, I wrote the same thing on several occasions: to write a first draft of a story. And about half the time, I failed to meet that goal. And there were days where I expressed my frustrations on the group’s page and contemplated quitting the group. But I stuck with it, thanks to numerous members talking me “off the ledge.” I think because I expressed my concerns rather than bottling them in, I felt I could step back for a moment and remember why I joined the challenge: to not just push myself to write every day. Rather, to be a healthy writing habit. And that takes persistence and perseverance. (I’m still working on building that habit. Good habits take time.)
Last week, I signed up to participate in next year’s challenge. I raised the bar on my word count next year, setting a goal of 500 words/day. I’ve met and exceeded that word count on several occasions throughout the year. Whether it be through my journal entries, or writing stories or blog posts. So it can be done. Can I do it on a consistent basis? That remains to be seen. But the important thing is not whether or not I meet the goal. It’s about developing the discipline to write every day. And if I miss a day, it doesn’t mean the end of the world.
Now writing in a journal is a good way to meet that goal. But, as I mentioned before, I wanted to write more stories. Actually, one of my writing goals this year was to write a short story a month. I fell short of that goal. But by my math, I did write twelve stories for the year–counting the flash fiction. But I miss writing stories longer than a thousand words. (The most I’ve written in an actual story as best as I can recall hovers around 1500.) So, next year, I want to push myself even more. I want to shoot for stories around the 2000-word mark. Maybe exceed that goal, too. I want to train my brain to develop a well-conceived story, given the constraints of the format. I want this club to be the push I need to write those stories and, in addition, push me to enter them in contests. This sounds more complicated than it has to be. Bug the bottom line is that I want to write even more than I did this year. And this group is the machine I need to make it happen.
When I signed up for this challenge this time last year, I had no idea what I was getting into. (I’m assuming no one did because this was the first year.) I focused on all the wrong things, like meeting word counts, and I kicked myself too hard when I fell short. I wasn’t looking at the big picture. The writing club is about building a strong foundation, developing persistence and perseverance, and creating a camaraderie among fellow writers. That is what I finally learned, and those are the lessons I’m taking into next year’s challenge.