Because I seem to be a big fan of thirtysomething-day challenges as of late, I accepted an invitation to participate in a 32-day writing challenge. I say that because I am currently 15 days into a 30-day Bikram yoga challenge. So far, the main challenge has been getting off my behind and going to class. It has been easier to force myself to go to Bikram because I’ve been on vacation from work since December 18. I make myself go to class at a set time each day – generally, during these vacation weeks, the 10 am class. I make myself go to the 10 am even if I could go to a later class, because I know that letting myself off the hook for going at 10 am would eventually lead to excusing myself for missing a day of class.
Why 32 days? This 2009 Washington Post essay by the author Ann Patchett explains the logic behind the time frame.
I haven’t quite figured out what this 32-day writing challenge will actually look like for me. Logic tells me that I should adopt a disciplined approach to my writing schedule similar to the one I am using during the Bikram challenge – establish a set writing time and a specific writing goal for each day.
But since I said, “I’m in!” on a whim, without really thinking about what I’ll actually be working on in this 32-day period, I’m allowing myself a bit more flexibility in the execution, at least in the beginning. This isn’t a Bikram yoga class – 26 postures and two breathing exercises, done in a very specific sequence over 90 minutes in a heated room. Unlike a Bikram class, I won’t know what to expect each day that I sit down to the computer to write. So I’m going to allow myself to ease into it. Some days, I’ll post here – probably something as rambling as this post. Other days, I’ll work on some of my unpublished fiction and nonfiction projects, or perhaps a new personal essay or opinion piece. I’m very clear that tweeting and posting on Facebook does not count as “writing.”
As my body has taught me during this Bikram yoga challenge, I expect that my writing will feel stiff and stilted some days, and loose and supple on others. But just as I’m using the Bikram challenge to make exercise a part of every day, my goal for the 32-day writing challenge is to develop a daily writing habit, which I can carry forward into the year, no matter what I’m actually working on.
Feel free to join me on this challenge or some other challenge of your own making. Let’s make 2014 a year of actions and accomplishments!