I challenge you to write something every day during 2023. And, file it in some retrievable format.
For many—maybe most everyone who reads this post—this will not be a challenge at all. If this is you, then pass my challenge along to someone who you suspect doesn’t write everyday.
So, why write every day? I could quote a hundred writers in answering this question. But I won’t, except for the one who matters most to me. You guessed it, ME. I write mainly for myself, not for an audience even though I publish my work. On the days I write, especially if I write a scene or snippet for my current novel in progress, I feel alive. I feel like I’ve accomplished something meaningful. If I’ve spent a few hours at my desk and penciled (or keyboarded) some words, my day is a success. If I do nothing the remainder of the day, I’m good. (I know. This is a psychological trick, but believe me, it works).
I relate accomplishment to production. Now don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t call myself much of a producer. I mostly consume. What about you? You may be like me in that during a typical day, you read something: articles, books (fiction and non-fiction), Twitter, Facebook (not me, I hate Facebook). Also, you watch TV, or, I should say the TV screen which now days includes a zillion streaming services. In addition, you may watch YouTube Videos and listen to audio books. There’s probably a thousand other ways we spend our time consuming what someone else has created. In other words, most of us consume a lot more than we produce.
My challenge is for us to change that, to start writing something every day. Now, granted, there’s many other ways to be creative, to produce something. You could use your mind and ear to score a new song, use your hands to paint a landscape, build a doghouse, or add a room to your own house. You could rebuild a car engine. You could design and create a robot to cook hamburger helper without guidance, one so smart it would wash the dishes afterward. I’m certain, you can quickly list a dozen other ways to produce.
Certainly, you might argue you’re not a writer. I beg to differ, at least for most of you. If you can talk, you’re a writer (or can be). If you cannot speak but can remember, think, or imagine, anything, then you’re a writer (or can be). I’m not saying you are, or ever will be, an Ernest Hemingway or a William Faulkner, or a John Grisham, or a Michael Connelly. I simply mean you have the ability, right now, to transfer some words from your mind, through your fingers, to a sheet of paper (or computer). And, don’t forget dictation. Simply say your words outloud and watch them appear on the computer screen (think WORD software).
Have you ever written a grocery list? Probably, even if it was simply, “buy milk, bread, and eggs.” You already have the memory of a trip to the grocery store. Write about it. Just write down what your memory is telling you. Don’t worry about grammar or format to start with. If your memory is foggy, that’s okay, just make something up. Hence, use your imagination. Add in some mystery. Questions are always helpful. You might write, “why was the 600 pound redheaded woman who was riding the motorized buggy buying all that Crest toothpaste?” If you want, answer your question, or attempt to. Write more than one reason.
Let me digress. You may not have noticed but I just did something no one else in the world has ever done (if you believe Google knows everything). I copied and pasted my 600 pound question into Google, including the quotation marks, and here’s the result.
This just proved (kinda) that I created/produced something unique.
Sorry for that. Notice that so far I haven’t said anything about creating stories. And, I won’t now other than to say you will decide if and when you want to enter that wonderful world. For now, it’s quite okay to stick with what I call snippets. Here’s the formal definition from Merriam-Webster: “a small part, piece, or thing.” And, here’s a few synonyms for snippet: bit, fragment, morsel, smidgen, scrap, and snip.” You get the idea.
I bet you’re already producing snippets. Things like this: “Call Howard at Snead Ag.” I wrote this one yesterday. It’s about reminding him to do what he promised—to send a rollback and haul my tractor to Wilks Tire to fix the right rear tire I’ve already paid for. You guessed it, the tire wasn’t properly repaired; it still goes flat. The above quote is all I penciled on the 3 by 3 inch paper square. But now, I’ve written more about that note. There’s a lot more I could write about it. Like the conversation I had with Howard on (I forget) where he made his promise.
It’s time I work on my current novel in progress, but I want to end with the second part of my challenge, “And, file it in some retrievable format.” This obviously depends on whether you write with pencil or pen, or using a computer. Either is fine, just store your snippets in a way you can return to them when you want. For a physical system, you could write on notecards and date and file them chronologically. For a digital system, you could use something like Evernote with the date written as the title. There’s a zillion ways.
I basically have two forms of writing. My blogging and my novel writing. For the later, I use Scrivener. It allows me to create a project for every book. Admittedly, I no longer keep up with my daily word count for my novel writing. I sensed such was producing unneeded/unwanted pressure. Further, I know I’m rewardingly immersed in my current project if I’m producing a book every year (and that’s another story since it’s now been a little over a year since I published my last book), but I digress.
For blogging, I use WordPress. Earlier, as I thought about what I would write today, I wanted to see if I’d written a blog post on January 1, 2022. Thankfully, I did. I wrote it in pencil, snapped a photo, and posted it to my blog. Here it is if you want to read .
I feel better now.
I’ll leave you with this. Dorothy Parker once said: “I hate writing, but I love having written.” Doesn’t this go for a lot of things in life? They aren’t all chocolate candy and pickle juice (I love pickle juice) when tantalizing our taste buds, but for one or more reasons, after the task, we feel good about what we’ve done. We might even say, the world is better off, at least our own little world.
For a better life, write. Write something. Write every day.
And, every once in a while, reread what you’ve written.