30/30 Wrap-Up

Well, it’s done.

Image from Don't Break the Chain.
Image from Don’t Break the Chain!

I wrote for 30 minutes for 30 days, each and every day. Through some very generous donations, I raised $110 for Seattle’s Hugo House.

I’m not gonna lie, the past week and a half were tough. We were traveling, there were work events, and then — icing on the cake — Byron and I both caught the cold from hell. Multiple days I thought, “I could just skip today. No one would know.” Except I would know, and I would feel guilty, so I sat down for the 30 minutes anyway. Maybe fever-dream writing will be the pinnacle of my book.

Mostly now, I want a break. I want a nap and a day where I don’t think about writing at all. (It is highly likely this is the residual sickness talking. But it’s still how I feel.)

Still… in the past 30 days, I’ve edited 89 pages of my book (89 single-spaced pages, to boot). That’s a little over 45,000 words. That’s a hell of a lot more than I’ve gotten done in the past several months. All from just sitting down for 30 minutes a day.

I’d like to keep this up. Habits are hard to make and easy to break, so I should keep it up. The lesson learned through this whole thing is that it’s entirely possible to prioritize your writing if you make it a priority.

 

30/30 Check-In

Here we are, day 15 of my 30/30 Writing Challenge — writing for 30 minutes a day for 30 days to raise money for Seattle’s Hugo House. I’m proud to report that so far I haven’t missed a single day, even though some days were like pulling teeth. A brief check-in, then, on lessons learned from the challenge thus far.

(Oh, and a reminder — the whole “point” of this, aside from creating good writing habits, is to raise money for the awesome Hugo House. If you’re so inclined, you can donate here.)

Lesson #1: It is much, much easier than it sounds like to get in 30 minutes of writing a day. I admit to being a little bit daunted by the number, especially considering how my writing schedule had been going recently. But once you commit to it… you guys, there are 30-minute chunks everywhere. In the morning before work, on your lunch break, while dinner’s cooking. I knew it before, but this has just highlighted the fact — the time is there, if you prioritize. (And here’s the usual caveat how I don’t have kids, I’m sure it’s harder with kids, but you know — same general theory still applies.)

Lesson #2: Earlier is better. Again, this is something I already knew (are you seeing a theme here?). Last year, while finishing the first draft of my book, I got up early every morning to get the time in. Now, I find myself returning to that schedule. There have been two days where I skipped the morning, thinking “Oh, I’ll have time to write later.” Both times, it bit me in the ass. Days have a way of spiraling out of control. The earlier you can check off the writing, the better. Plus, then you have the benefit of already having accomplished something with your day, before it’s even really started. (I find this true with running, too.) I love being able to head into work and think, “No matter what else happens today, I already accomplished this.”

Lesson #3: Getting up early sucks. Look, it just does. Maybe not for some people, but every time that damn alarm clock goes off, I want to smash it over the head and go back to sleep. Instead, I turn it off and roll my sorry butt out of bed. (Related tangent: my dad hated his childhood alarm clock so much that he saved it and, as an adult, used it for target practice. Early-morning dislike, it runs in the family.)

Lesson #4: If you work consistently, you get shit done. 30 minutes a day adds up. Prior to this, I had edited 3 chapters of my book. Now I’m up to 7. It took me 15 days to make that leap. Admittedly, the editing is getting easier the further I go (ooph, the beginning of the book was rough, you guys). But this rapid accumulation is an obvious result of sitting down and working.

Lesson #5: It’s about priorities. Lauren at I’m Better in Real Life wrote a great blog post about writing seasons. It’s a reality of life that, over time, priorities shift. You expend more energy in one facet of your life than another. I’m prioritize my writing right now — which means, yes, some other things may drop off a little bit — and that’s ok.

At this point, I’m thinking I may continue the 30 minutes a day, even after the 30/30 Challenge is done. Which, I mean — we’ll see. It’s still early days. I’m halfway there. But really, there’s no downside. Whatever you do, whether it’s writing or coding or creating whatever, consistent work habits are key.

The 30/30 Writing Challenge

So, here’s roughly how this went down.

Last week, a group of coworkers and I journeyed up Capitol Hill to attend the Cheap Bear & Prose night at Hugo House. Hugo House, in their own words, “is for writers.” Seattle is a bookish city, and nonprofit Hugo House is one of its most awesome literary enclaves. Named after local poet Richard Hugo, they provide classes, workshops, free events… essentially a hub and supporter for a zillion and two literary happenings. I only recently started attending their events myself, and was so pleasantly surprised by the amazing environment I found there.

Cheap Bear & Prose night was a ton of fun — good people, good writing. I left the evening feeling excited about the great work I’d just heard… and also disappointed. Disappointed in myself for not taking my writing more seriously, for not pushing myself harder, for not being active in the larger literary community. I resolved to remedy that last bit by attending more events and classes at places like Hugo House.

The next morning, I hopped on Hugo House’s website to check out their class listings. And right there on their homepage was the 30/30 Writing Challenge — a fundraising challenge. The idea is this: people write for 30 minutes each and every day for 30 days and raise money for Hugo House. Simple enough. The next challenge was starting October 1.

“That’s a cool idea,” I thought, and moved on with my day.

I went on with my week, my weekend. On September 30 I got an email reminder about signing up for the challenge. “Oh yeah,” I thought, and ignored the email.

And then yesterday, on October 1, I woke up and — essentially on a whim — signed up for the challenge in about 5 minutes.

That’s how I typically sign up for stuff like this — in a flash, on a whim, because otherwise I might over-think it and back down. It scares me a little to commit to this — it feels a bit like going down the NaNoWriMo hole — but it feels right. In the past several months I’ve grown apathetic towards my writing, and I need a kick in the pants to change that. Plus, I believe in what Hugo House stands for. If I can raise some money for a great organization and ALSO get my writing time in? Win win.

I’ll be keeping track of my progress here on the blog (check the right-hand column), using Jerry Seinfeld’s Chain method. I figure if I make it public, there’s more accountability. And if you’re so inclined…

Donate Now

Ok. 30 minutes down. 29 more days to go.