Rising to the Challenge by Elizabeth Mitchell

Kait’s opening post challenges all of us to make progress on our goals every day, suggesting a very neat wordcount and accountability tool called Pacemaker. She justifies the challenge clearly, “If your goal is 1,000 words a day and you only manage 250, that’s 250 that you didn’t have before and your brain stayed at least a little bit in the story. THAT is what I want to reward this round–ANY consistent progress toward your goal, no matter how small. Whether you’re chipping away at that final word count by inches or feet, I want you to make an effort to do something each and every day.”

 

I have long been a believer in working on something every day. When I taught French, I was amazed how much my students forgot during semester breaks. I’m not a neuroscientist, but I believe that daily work creates pathways that make future work easier. I know that the languages I use more often come much more easily to me than the ones I haven’t read or spoken in months.

 

I’ve mentioned before in posts on this blog about writing every day. I realize that isn’t for everyone. However, I know how hard it is for me to revisit something I haven’t thought about for a while–rereading and refreshing my memory. Although even I am too young to have had to pump well water, the expression of “priming the pump” is still valid. I will bet that those who argued against my suggestions think about their writing every day, daydream about what their characters look like, or eavesdrop in a coffee shop for plot twists. I’ve seen comments about characters demanding attention, or the proliferation of plot bunnies, so I am sure most of you have your writing close to the surface most of the time. Note that Kait doesn’t say “write every day,” but “do something each and every day.”

 

My two major difficulties are life and procrastination. The latter sings its siren song to me all the time, “Tomorrow’s soon enough. You’re tired right now.” It goes hand in hand with my perfectionism, which says in my ear, “Don’t do it unless you can do it perfectly.” To which I respond, “A plague o’ both your houses.” I am going to repeat two phrases to myself: “Start where you are,” and “You can’t edit a blank page.” I need to learn about dialogue, but that’s okay, that is progress toward my goal.  And I need to put words on the page, even when they are not perfect, or even when my surroundings are not perfect.

 

At the moment I am writing this post, I have a garage piled to the ceiling with boxes and furniture, I am living out of a suitcase, and I have been without internet for a little bit longer than a week. It would be easy for me to claim the impossibility of writing, and to be totally honest, I have surprised myself. I am writing by hand, but I am writing.

 

Kait acknowledges life difficulties in the opening post for this Round, but gives no quarter, “Stop letting everything else in your life come first. No excuses.” Darn her, she’s right. No matter how crazy my life may be, I do have the time to scribble a few sentences from a half-remembered dream, or an insight that occurred in the shower. I have created three projects on Pacemaker for the Round, and am continuing to learn how best to use it.  I agree with Kait, that what I do with my time is a choice, and I choose writing. After all, I can always procrastinate with the laundry.

 

What are you doing to meet Kait’s challenge?

~*~

Elizabeth Mitchell

2 comments

  1. Last week I made my first attempt at flash fiction. In just around an hour, I was able to satisfy my craving to write fiction (amidst all the non-fiction writing I’ve been doing) without having to commit a lot of extra work to yet another writing project. The feeling of accomplishment was immense! I’m going to keep experimenting with flash whenever I get in the rut of edits, blogging, or other non-fiction tasks just to get my fix and stay sane! This was something I hadn’t even planned for, but I’m glad I was able to get it done just a few days after starting my first ROW80 challenge!

    In addition to this, I’ve been hard at work writing a new blog post on the topic of letting the burning passion to write, create, etc., come out and be unleashed. Though I haven’t written every day, I have been at least reading books about the craft and calling of writing. I’m terrible at beating myself up for not having been productive, as if productivity is a measure of my self-worth in life. Sometimes taking a break means more than writing until you’re burned out completely. Everyone needs to fill up the creative well from time to time, and, for the most part, that requires doing nothing more than absorbing the many muses life has to offer.

    1. Great work on the flash fiction. I find changing things up like that is very helpful.

      Your point about refilling the well is also a good one. I find baking or gardening work well; there’s something about working with my hands that helps me.

      Welcome to RoW80.

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