Revisiting Simplify

Credit: Global Political Awakening
Credit: Global Political Awakening

Near the first of the year I posted on the word “simplify.”  Rather than fall victim to the idea of resolutions, I had chosen the word “simplify” as the focus of my year.  We had just spent 18 months travelling extensively and life had somehow gotten out of control.  I felt at loose ends and unable to write.  I needed to take control of life once more, and I hoped by simplifying my life I could find a sense of purpose and control.

Now in April I have just completed two, not one but two, challenges:  the A to Z Blog Challenge and Sue Mitchell’s challenge issued at An Untold Story to write 10 minutes each day before engaging in the Internet, emails or social media.  WHAT????  How did this simplify my life some have asked.

Unbelievably, I accomplished both, and in so doing learned some things about myself.

Click on image to visit A to Z Challenge 2013
Click on image to visit A to Z Challenge 2013

First, I really can write every day.  Yes, every day.  In the A to Z challenge, participants must write and post 26 times in the month as well as read and comment on others’ posts.  I selected a theme to give focus, calendared the letters of the alphabet, and worked ahead so I could schedule posts.  This worked well for me.

Sue Mitchell, The Memoir Muse at An Untold Story
Sue Mitchell, The Memoir Muse at An Untold Story

The second thing I learned is that the Internet, emails and social media can wait.That’s right — I said they can wait.  And for 30 days they did.  I no longer sit down and immediately get caught up in the social networking that I used to do first thing each morning.  I am so grateful to this challenge for helping me break this habit.  The time I spent on social media and networking previously gains about two hours or more a day.  No wonder I wasn’t getting any writing (or housework) done!

Gaining these new habits and strengths have simplified both my writing life and my other life. I sense accomplishment and a greater feeling of confidence in managing my time.  I have developed new habits, which continue to need some effort and work on my part.

Looking around, there are more things I can do to simplify, and I will.  It just takes time and more thought.  As we travel in a week or so, I’ll have time sitting on the train to think and ponder the other ways to simplify.  I certainly feel I have gained momentum in the last 30 days toward becoming a more focused writer with a simpler approach in my writing and my life.

I’m glad I selected the word “simplify” for my 2013 reflection.

How about you?  Are there things you do to simplify the world around you and your life?  

An April Reflection

Sue Mitchell, The Memoir Muse at An Untold Story
Sue Mitchell, The Memoir Muse at An Untold Story

During the month of April, I challenged myself to carry out two major constructive changes in my writing.  First, I signed up for the A to Z Blog Challenge , a challenge which requires 26 posts during the month of April (every day but Sunday) on any topic you choose.  I chose to write about the development of a character’s emotions and feelings.

The second challenge I took on was to write at least ten minutes each day before looking at emails or social media.  My hope was to break a habit. Research has shown that it takes 30 days to break a habit, and that same 30 days can train a new habit.  This challenge had its genesis with Sue Mitchell, writing coach at An Untold Story.

The last letter of the alphabet, Z, is written and posted, and the 30th day of April has come and (almost) gone.  I survived both challenges and I’m a better writer for it.

Writing blog posts for 26 out of 30 days kept me on my toes and my fingers tapping.  Of course, some of my posts were written ahead and scheduled to post, but some days I wrote more than one post, or about 1,000 words.  Just think if those cumulative words had been for my memoir.  A few more days and I could complete my first draft!

With each letter and post, I could feel my writing skills improving daily.  I suppose you could say I felt I was finding my groove!  And I met some incredible writers and bloggers widening my writing community.  A win/win.

The real high comes from the fact that after 30 days (OK, almost 30 here in the Pacific NW) I no longer sit down at the computer and head first for emails, Facebook, Twitter or anything other than to WRITE FIRST. Priorities have shifted.  Oh, yes, they have!  I feel more in control now.  And if I don’t make it to Facebook or Twitter until later in the day or at all on a single day, I’m comfortable with that.

So, I challenge each of you to think about what I’ve accomplished in 30 days.  I know many of you don’t struggle with these issues of managing time for writing, but some of us do.  And when you get a handle on it, you just can’t help but brag a bit.

Q4U: What are you doing to make the most of your writing time?  I’d love to hear how you manage your time and challenge yourself to stay above the fray of everyday life.

Click on images for attributions.