You can’t say, I won’t write today, because that excuse will extend into several days,
then several months, then… you are not a writer anymore,
just someone who dreams about being a writer.
–Dorothy C. Fontana
A writing friend asked me to enter a challenge. Write 100 words for 100 days called (are you ready?) 100×100. If you miss a day, you simply go back to day one and start counting again until you’ve written at least 100 words in a continuous 100-day period. Challenge? Seriously? Being a type-A, obsessive/compulsive, goal-setting, up-for-a-challenge, look-before-you-leap type person, I screamed YES!!! 100 words a day not only seemed do-able, but easy-peasy. Heck, I can knock off 100 words in under fifteen minutes. Just to give you some idea, you have already read over 100 words of this column. See. Just a spit in the literary wind.
100 words for 100 days. It doesn’t matter what you write (poetry, journal, fiction, non-fiction, blurts of family history, etc.) if you write longhand or on the computer, or if you go over 100 words (in fact—hopefully you will). The point is simple—to engage with your material (your heart and soul) on a consistent basis.
So, eager to begin, I made it for five days. Then forgot. I actually got a sick feeling in my stomach the next day when I realized my mistake, but guess what? I didn’t let it last long. I could start again, so I did. This time, determined to conquer, I went eleven days. And got sick (at least, that’s my excuse) but then started again. For this stretch, I’ve been going for eight days. But the amazing thing is, I’m on page 62 on my book, with over 15,000 words written. All because I committed to writing at least ten minutes and to think about what I’m writing once a day. Isn’t that a small amount of time and effort to enrich your writing life and to attack goals that seem huge and insurmountable (like 15,000 words)? I have had to start over six times. My longest stretch of writing has been the eleven days I told you about. So now, I’m in a challenge with myself: to reach a personal best—over eleven days. And hopefully, on to 100. Which reminds me of another great quote:
Supposing you have tried and failed again and again.
You may have a fresh start any moment you choose,
for this thing we call “failure” is not the falling down, but the staying down.
Don’t stay down, no matter how long ago you fell off the writing horse. If you want to write, no matter what it is—letters, a journal, a biography, your musings on life, family history, a poetry collection, that book you’ve always wanted to write—join me and start the challenge today.