Looking back on the daily writing prompts

Consistency is its own source of strength.

–Unknown

The daily writing prompt project is over now. I did one for each day from July 17 to September 18, so that’s what, 63? Not bad, I think!

It was a fun challenge. For the first few weeks I was so excited to do them; I loved each one, and was delighted to start my mornings with this little 15-minute creative ritual. I felt that the prompts gave shape and momentum to my days. And I was enamored of the writing I was generating. Around the end of the first month, though, I got behind on them, and there came several consecutive ones that didn’t speak to me for whatever reason, so it wasn’t as much fun to sit there every morning with nothing flowing forth. I started to dread the prompts piling up in my inbox, and when I did do them, I let myself quit at 10 minutes instead of 15 (though the good ones could occupy me for up to an hour). I felt like I was falling down on the job, but since I was the one who started the project, I couldn’t stop. So I kept going, and I am proud to say I did them all. Maybe it wasn’t one every day, but I did eventually get to all of them — which means at least 11 hours of writing I wouldn’t have done otherwise, and roughly 30,000 new words.* Quantity doesn’t equal quality, of course, but it’s nice having that much more starting-ground to choose from!

All my life, one of my major failings has been that I give up easily, or just as quickly lose interest and focus in long-term projects. So it is always really, really good to have regular practices that I’m forced to stick to. My two months of capoeira have been that, and so has this daily writing project. Regular practices help broaden my perspective away from the single episode or day; they show me the power of approaching something again and again from different moods and mindsets. Instead of dwelling on the limited perspective of “augh, I’m too tired for this today” or making too-rapid leaps from “my writing sucks today… my writing must suck always!”, I can observe how nothing is as static or as finished as I think it is. On a sleepy day, I can still do good kicks — and on the flip side, just because I wrote good stuff yesterday doesn’t guarantee I’ll do so again today! The ongoing shifting ensures I constantly surprise myself in ways that both disturb and please me. And it allows me to see what really is unchanging, what threads are woven so deeply through me that they come up over and over in my thoughts and in my writing.

I’m now enjoying a pleasant break from both capoeira and the daily prompts, but I don’t want to lose the insights (or discipline) of regular practice. I’ll give myself a couple of weeks off, and then I plan to restart the writing prompts — possibly not every day — and am also thinking about a regular drawing/painting practice. And let’s not forget exercise; I don’t want to lose the energy and muscle tone I got from capoeira! We’ll see how it goes. For now, I rest!

*I chose six random freewrites and they averaged out at 484 words, with the shortest being 126 and the longest 924. Quite a range there!

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