January Challenge: Writing in My Journal Every Day

It's the last day of the month which means it's time to look back on this month's challenge! Don't know what I'm talking about? Check out this post where I announce that every month this year I'm going to be attempting a different writing challenge! In January the challenge was simple: write in my journal every day. IMG_3177

.... I kind of failed. I didn't do it every day. I did write some, but not every single day. This is really productive information! I've never been good at keeping a journal and this to me is the final evidence that it just isn't my thing so I'm going to let it gooooooo. No longer will I feel like a failure if I don't write in a journal faithfully. I've been trying it on and off for over a decade and it NEVER WORKS. In this post I do discuss how carrying a mini journal around with me IS something I find very useful so I'm going to accept my fate, play to my strengths, and do what works for me. In the future if I decided to try writing every day again I need to pick a specific time. I found that often it would be late at night and I'd remember that I needed to write and I'd end up scribbling something useless... as you can see in this photo:


February Challenge: Because it's the month of Valentine's I thought it would be nice to do something themed: let's write poems! Valentine's day is on the 14th, so I've decided to write 14 poems this month.. a lot more than usual. To go with our theme I'm aiming to write some love poems but I also want to feel free to write anything that comes to me! Let's see how it goes!

21 Days Into NaNoWriMo

It's November, which for any writer on the internet means you're either in the throws of panic trying to write a 50k word novel, or you're trying to discern whether or not you should have tried to write a 50k word novel. I've failed NaNoWriMo three times. The first year I had a blast trying it, but the two years after that became less and less fun. Last year I decided to not even attempt it. The concept of races and challenges don't seem to work for me, they don't motivate me, they just stress me out and make me feel guilty. I find I can't sit down to write every day without fail and then I feel like a chump for not doing it and then I feel like I've failed and then it starts to spiral out of control. Humbug. This year, however, I've been enjoying writing a lot more, and especially in writing in different forms. I decided to do NaNoWriMo (partly because it's misery to see everyone around you participating if you're not) on my own terms. It'd be about writing every day, or at least about writing more than I usually do.

It's been a success, I think! Part way through the month, I'll admit, I've started to really lose momentum. I've been so incredibly swamped with school (seriously, it sounds like an excuse, but I might actually drown in this pile of homework) and have been worn down by the darkness that arrives at 4:30. But I've written. I've written poems that I think are good, and short stories that I think are interesting. I've written memories that made me happy, and essays that have made me think. I've output far more than I usually do, and I want to keep doing it long after NaNoWriMo ends.

I think, really, that's the true test. If I just have a big burst once a year I can't consider myself a writer. Not the definition of the word the I want to embody, at least. I want to write constantly, because when I do I find myself having immeasurable fun. When it's over I love pouring over what I've written tearing it apart and celebrating it in equal measure. I want to write, and I don't want to forget to write because I'm lazy or busy or otherwise engaged.

The nature of NaNoWriMo is very WRITE NOW EDIT LATER, and I've held to that. I've tried to polish things up a little bit, but mainly they're in a pretty raw state, which means I'm not too ready to share anything yet. When this craziness ends though (and this craziness includes school), I'm hoping to go over some of the things I've written and post some of them here for everyone to see!

I posted a video about NaNoWriMo that you can watch down below, or by clicking here.


Notebook Experiment // After


If you didn't read Part 1, I decided to take a notebook with me for a few days of travel to try and see if it got me to write more. I could fill the pages with anything and everything. No rules. Just to fill it.

The first problem wasn't content based, it was size. My notebook was too big to fit in my pocket, and I needed it to be handy. So on the train I realized I had to rip it in two. Which was NOT an easy feat. Not only was it tough to try and rip all of the pages and the covers with some resemblance of order, but it was so SO loud and I felt bad for everyone on the train around me.


After I had something manageable, something I could easily whip out of my pocket and shove back out of sight, I started trying to fill it. At first it was all very mundane things, mini observations or quick thoughts.


As I started to get into the swing of things, though, my writing became much longer. It was intrinsically tied with my travelling alone - I could be walking along, think of something I wanted to write about, and then sit down and write about it for 15 minutes or 2 hours. I have lots of thoughts on the majesty of travelling alone, and I won't dump them all here, but the combination of travelling on my own and writing some of my thoughts down felt like I was finally sorting through my brain. I say finally because it felt like a relief - as if I'd been meaning to do it for ages and had never had the time.


Our conclusions? This was brilliant. 10/10, do recommend. What I find most challenging now, after returning home and being surrounded by people, is finding the time. But that's a challenge for anything, and the only solution is to MAKE the time. I've now bought tiny notebooks, because let's get real I looked ridiculous, and can't wait to fill them with all sorts of things. I haven't written this much in ages - it feels safe writing in my notebook, very much as though there is no audience but myself. What everyone said is true (gosh darnit) - writing by hand really makes you forge forward and not spend time constantly editing yourself like you do when typing things out.

Do you use notebooks? Do you think you would give this a try? (I think you should!) Is there any difference between writing something out in a notebook or typing something out in the notes app? (You definitely look more legit with a notebook, just saying.)


Notebook Experiment // Before

A lot of the writers (and other artists) I've been reading about lately have mentioned how helpful they find the physicality of a notebook. Neil Gaiman, for example, went out and bought a fountain pen when he started writing Stardust. It also just feels like an artist type thing to do, and if I can't be an artist, well gosh darnit I'll look like one. I'm about to leave home for five days (a day in London and then four days in Rome) and have decided to take this empty (empty now that I ripped the first quarter of school notes out) notebook with me. Which, actually, is a big thing. Because I'm doing these five days of travelling with just one backpack and taking dead weight is something I always avoid. But I'm going for it! For these five days I'll try my best to fill it with whatever I think an artist would put in there (because I'm a beautiful phony) and when I come back I'll make a post about how this experiment works out with some pictures of what I manage to put in there!

This'll be fun, yeah? WHO DOESN'T LOVE A BEFORE AND AFTER REVEAL? Everyone does.