Today, 16 April 2019, is the three-year anniversary of my writing streak. I’m both surprised and not that I’ve come this far. Surprised because it feels unreal to think that in the last three years, I haven’t gone a single day without creating something. And not surprised because after three years, writing has become a routine for me. It’s just as normal as waking up and brushing your teeth. You don’t need a reminder for that – you just go ahead and do it.
Write until it becomes as natural as breathing. Write until not writing makes you anxious.
– Christina Katz
I’d once noted the above quote in my commonplace book and imagined the day when I could say the quote applied to me. Today, I seem to have achieved that. I may not be anxious if I haven’t written by the time the day comes to an end, but the fact that I’m yet to write hovers in the back of my mind. The sooner I get rid of it, the better.
I’ve said here several times that I wanted to shift my writing to the morning, and in the last few weeks, I’ve achieved that too. There have only been a couple of days when I did my writing in the evening, but mostly I’m doing my writing in the morning, just like I wanted. It’s becoming a habit.
This time though, I don’t have any lessons to share. The same things that worked for me in the beginning helped me get this far – setting concrete goals, writing to motivate to writing to motivate to write, allowing myself to write badly. And most importantly, remembering I’m the one who makes and breaks the rule.
The rule is simple – to write a certain number of words every day. My word count goal keeps changing depending on the situation. For example, I reduced it from 750 to 250 words in June last year when we were traveling on a very tight schedule, and to ‘just write’ when I was down with typhoid in December. Of course, I could’ve skipped writing on those days, but the fear of breaking this streak is the only thing that keeps bringing me back to the keyboard every day. Without it, I’m nothing as a writer.
And so I broke the rules as needed to keep the streak burning. I’m accountable to no one but myself, and my only goal is to prevent myself from breaking my streak. The streak makes me write and the more I write, the better I get, which is the point of starting a daily writing habit in the first place.
I have to admit that I did cheat a little last year – I allowed myself to get away with diary entries as the day’s writing when I was mentally exhausted or stopped writing before reaching the day’s writing goal. However, I’ve become stricter with myself now. Since I do my writing in the morning, it’s become easier to stick to proper writing and not resort to scribbling in my diary. I’m still lazy and sometimes I have no idea what to write about, but I don’t move from the table until I’ve reached my goal.
Lessons and confessions aside, I’d say this was a fairly average year as a writer for me. I hardly submitted anything, wrote less fiction, and wasn’t as inspired as I usually am. I wrote more blog posts and non-fiction. I think that’s the reason I struggled with fiction, but I hope to get unstuck after participating in Story-A-Day May next month.
Since there’s not much to reflect on without repeating what I’ve already said in my other posts about writing, I thought I should instead focus on what I hope to achieve in the next twelve months.
Firstly, I want to write more fiction. It’s going to be hard writing a story every day in May, but I’m hoping I’ll be on a roll after that. Too ambitious, I know.
Secondly, I hope to edit more and send out more stuff. Over the last month, I’ve been reading my writing from the last three years. As always, I was surprised to read some really good stories and realize I had written them. I’ll start working on them as soon as I’m done sorting all my writing projects according to their potential.
Thirdly, I hope to try new stuff and learn more about writing short stories. This idea of a self-taught writing workshop includes things like reading famous short story writers, critiquing my favorite short stories to figure out how they work, copying and/or translating masters to learn how they play with words, and so on.
I don’t know how to end this post. I’m really proud of how far I’ve come and all the work I’ve done along the way. As before, the desire to keep this streak burning until my death remains. I’ve grown much as a writer and I would love to grow and learn more.
Here are some posts about writing I’ve shared over the last year that I loved and that I hope will be helpful: