Before this contest started, I had written exactly one blog post in my entire life, as a guest blogger on Michele's website. Based on how long it took me to write that particular blog, I knew that writing fifteen blogs in one month would not be easy. But I also had no idea how difficult it would be...and how rewarding. Funny how those two things so often go hand-in-hand. Collaborating with Michele has been extraordinary. As she does for me in so many ways in my life, she kept me on track (after helping me find the track), listened to me whine and complain when I had no idea what I was going to write next, and encouraged me to keep going when my Inner Critic got the best of me and had me convinced that I, in fact, am a terrible writer. She gave my blogs a place to go when I couldn't stand to look at them one minute longer, and gave me a fresh perspective that made everything make sense again. She celebrated each finished blog with me, and then we did it all over again, times fifteen.
It took a leap of faith to enter the contest - faith that I would have enough to write about, enough time to write, and that I would receive all the human and divine sources of support, help and inspiration that I would need. I've spent more time at my computer this month than should be allowed during the summer...I guess there is a blessing in the fact that our Seattle weather has more closely resembled October than July. What has come out of it, in addition to fifteen blogs, is a better understanding of who I am in relationship to my writing, and a stronger-than-ever desire to do more of it.
To wrap up this month of blogging, I'm departing slightly from my usual approach to share with you what I've learned over the course of this contest, thoughts that will likely resonate for anyone who has ever tried to create something from nothing.
In no particular order:
No matter how great an idea is, and no matter how sure I am that I will remember it, if I don't write it down it will be forgotten. I've probably forgotten enough ideas this month alone to get me through another month of blogging.
Having too much time to write can be just as bad as, if not worse than, not having enough time to write.
It's never going to be perfect. It's never even going to be done. But there comes a point when I need to be done with it. The sooner the deadline, the sooner that point comes.
After I've finished a blog and am about 50 words into the next one, I panic, knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that I will never be able to finish it (or anything else, ever again), because I will never have anything interesting to say and, even if I did, I wouldn't know how to say it. It's like clockwork, so I'm learning to accept this as part of my process, and it's getting less scary. Deadlines help ensure that I move through it and don't allow myself to get stuck.
Much of the writing happens when I'm not writing, because it's life that gives me something to write about. I try to remember this when I start to feel like I should be/would rather be writing. I know I'm succeeding at life when I become so engaged in it that I temporarily forget about writing.
My life makes more sense when I write, and I make more sense when I write.
The more I write, the more there is to write about. I don't know how that works, but it means that all my worrying that I will run out of things to write about is wasted energy, because the only way that would happen is if I stop writing.
When words like "cognizant" and "perspicacious" start coming out of me, it's time to take a really long break. In fact, it's probably time to go to bed.
There's more than one way to say things. And there's more than one right way to say things. When I'm stuck on a sentence, it's sometimes necessary to do a cost-benefit analysis, keeping in mind that it will take the reader the same amount of time to read that sentence whether I spend two minutes or twenty writing it.
Writing can be "good" distracting or "bad" distracting, and the line between the two is a fine one.
Everything is a remix (blog.writersdigest.com/norules/2011/07/1...). Just because it's been said before doesn't mean it can't be said by me. An old idea filtered through the context of my life takes on new meaning, to me and hopefully to the people reading me.
It's okay to walk away before it's done. It's even okay to walk away in the middle of a sentence. Maybe by the time I come back the sentence will have finished itself.
It's never a good idea to get attached to a title before writing a blog. I have to allow for the possibility of the writing taking me in an unexpected direction.
I had no idea how much I had to learn about grammar! This month alone, I've learned the difference between "welcome" vs. "welcomed," discovered that it's never okay to use the word "importantly" (as in, "more importantly"), figured out when to use "awhile" vs. "a while," and done an in-depth study on when to use digits and when to write numbers out (this one still confounds me).
Just because it's not easy doesn't mean I'm not good at it.
I'm so grateful to have had this opportunity. My deepest thanks to BeliefNet for sponsoring the contest, and to Michele for being with me every step of the way. I knew I would love writing with her, but had no idea the extent to which we'd bring out the best in one another. It may be the end of a month of blogging, but it feels like a new beginning - and I can't wait to see where our writing takes us next.
Michele wraps up this month by sharing her thoughts on writing in this beautiful, inspiring post (including one of her famous movie analogies!): community.beliefnet.com/michelemorgan/bl...