Writing a book has always been on my bucket list. Not surprisingly. In 2002, in the New York Times, the writer Joseph Epstein claimed that “81 percent of Americans feel they have a book in them — and that they should write it.” He disagrees with them, but he makes me feel like I’m in good company. One of the many whose creative plans have yet to be realised.
I even toddled off to university the better part of a decade ago. I spent two years honing the writing craft. I attended workshops and lectures on how to get published. I tried to improve my grammar - with questionable success.
Sadly, I haven’t ever practiced my wordsmithery. I haven’t written anything non-work related since I finished that course. I’ve lacked the dedication. I’ve lacked something to say. I’ve had too many other things to do. Well that’s what I’ve told myself.
Deeper navel gazing leads to the relation that I’ve masses of dedication with other tasks. I manage to find time to read and I can talk at a mile a minute on loads of subjects. It’s fear that has prevented me putting fingers to keyboard. An irrational multitude of fears that have combined to cause years of procrastination: Fear of exposure. Fear of not making the grade. Fear of finding I’ve nothing worthwhile to say. If I never start, I can never fail.
So, today I’m determined to reverse this mental laziness. A leap day is a good day to start a new tradition, to make, dare I say, a leap forward. Today, 29th February 2016, I commit to starting my writing journey.
I commit to posting three times a week. Once a week on my personal blog and twice or thrice a week on the Toadsquare blog. I commit to writing and publishing what I write, even if my fears tell me it isn’t good enough. I commit to starting!
If I start, who knows where the journey will end: with a book?
Why now? Well, why not? A leap year comes but once every four years.
My more serious answer combines five personal and work-related reasons that together give me the incentive to start. In no particular order, they are:
1. Regular writing is said to decrease stress and launching a start-up has turned me into a stress head. The 3am worries, double guessing myself, doubts, negativity. I’m a fighter against all of these. Many internet articles claim that regular writing helps deal with all these fun aspects of life. As most of those making the claim are bloggers, there may be some bias here.
Nevertheless, my conclusion, simply put, is that writing a list of to do’s before you go to bed clears your mind, so longer forms of writing may clear out larger areas of my head. It can’t increase the confusion!
2. I need to write for work. I need to write help guides and to explain aspects of Toadsquare, and like any muscles exercising your writing improves it.
My writing muscles are weak. Organising my thoughts on paper takes longer than it used to and I hope that I can’t blame age. I’d much rather blame lack of practice. The use it or loose it principle in action.
I start with an encouraging piece of wisdom I found repeated around the web; it takes 66 days on average to make a habit. So, being generous to myself, in two to three months I should have a solidified habit. By June I should be getting withdrawal symptoms if I don’t get my thrice weekly writing done. I should also be writing faster.
I can commit to three months.
3. I miss being creative. I would describe my imagination as plagiaristic, so fiction has never been a goal of mine. My wildest dreams have seen a creative non-fiction book of mine beside Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. (On occasion my imagination is great!)
I’m unlikely to hit those heights. But, there is value in the creative process. There is value in the journey. I remember the satisfaction of completing a piece of writing. Of crafting an argument or of constructing a world. At school I used to be transported when I wrote onto an alternate plane. One of higher consecration and absorption where I forgot my everyday concerns and concentrated on expressing myself.
I want the experience back. I want to stop tasks running into one another and have moments where I stop, smell the roses and realise: Yes, I created that.
I believe that slices of escapist creativity uplift us. TV, the internet, books etc. serve up creativity for consumption. This enlivens us for a while, but the act of creation provides a more solid boost by giving a sense of achievement and and self-confidence.
4. The seemingly hundreds of thousands of social media experts on the web tell me that content marketing AKA blogging is the way to get followers by increasing your SEO and attracting people to your site. I need members.
I want people to come to Toadsquare to join to enjoy exchanging creative experiences. It's up to me to get the ball rolling.
5. I need to launch the Toadsquare blogosphere. As the logo says, Toadsquare is designed to be the home of creative industries, so its segment of the blogosphere aims to focus on creativity, in two ways:
i. To post about the creative process, specifically all forms of media and its production.
As a collective blog the joy of numbers is on it’s side. If only 25 people each write one post a month it will be a fantastic place to for all who love creativity. A place to come and continue the conversation. If 250 people post once a month it will be an amazing, exciting place to engage.
ii. Celebrate posts written for the joy of writing.
The Toagsquare blogosphere is designed to be a place where people come to write for the joy of it.
The blog wizard doesn’t allow you to add many features. You simply write your post then add a title, picture and introduction. It's not a place for affiliate marketing or sales.
I envision this as a collection of posts that will buck the trend of worrying more about word count than content. I’m tired of reading posts about whether headings of 6 or 15 words are best. Shouldn’t a good heading be a good heading? Shouldn't a post be all about the writing?
Any one of these reasons are enough to make me start writing. Together the five should ensure I continue.
My backup, the extra spice I’m adding to the mix, is my self-respect. When I press publish I will have stated my intention and I will need to write regularly to uphold my self-respect.
I would love people to join me in my challenge. It would be great to have support. Peer pressure can be good. Press reply at the bottom of the page if you want to join me. Post about any sort of creative goal you have. Tell people:
If you don’t feel like blogging, or if you bog elsewhere, I will started a thread on Toadsquare's Forum: A Leap Year Resolution https://www.toadsquare.com/en/forums/topics/96. Add a comment or a link to the thread.