“To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, — that is genius.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self Reliance and Other Essays.
Writing begins when it begins. You put your pen to your paper, you hem, you haw; you write. We delay, we procrastinate, we dally. I write often, but never as much as I want. I have committed to writing more, and I’m taking a challenge to write more this summer.
Some of my greatest writings have come from challenges proffered by the network of talented web authors abuzz in blogging media, such as Gwen Bell and #Reverb10’s month-long reflections each December. This June, another challenge sets forth: a 30-day challenge to write and reflect, grounded in the writings of philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Writing, to me, counteracts the busy-ness and near insanity of the media blitz world we live in of hyperconnectivity. With media, consumption and networking, I dip into it, I grow my addictions, and I blissfully engage in the beauty of interactivity. And then, for hours, quietly and simply, I depart. I escape to my notebooks, my pens, my walks, my runs, my swimming. Swimming can’t take social media with it – I don’t think it ever will – and I feel the same way about writing. When I write, I am with me – and only me. My brain is focused, challenged, quiet, still – and I have to create something, pull something outside of myself and put it into the world.
Writing is terrifying for most people. But you must – you must create, for you have to get outside yourself to really see yourself. What you think you know you must look at and see, at that involves pulling and pushing and moving it around, outside of your head. Take it from within you and put it outside and play with it. Feedback is terrifying, scary, painful, personal, and fundamentally necessary. Without it we stagnate, we sit, we fester – we stay the same. And in a constantly changing world, iteration, adaptation and growth are paramount.
A 30-day challenge to writers new and old. For those of you considering writing, longing to write, thinking about writing, one of the best ways to develop a new habit is to start something small for a dedicated amount of time. Amber Rae and The Domino Project have launched an online initiative and 30-day writing challenge for aspiring writers, longtime authors, and people looking to develop their craft: Self Reliance: Trust 30. Each day a prompt to cue writing and guide your thinking will start your day. You can join in for a few days or make the pledge to write for all 30. The prompts will come from web veterans such as Chris Guillebeau, Jonathan Mead, Buster Benson, Sean Ogle, Ashley Ambirge, and more. Each day a single prompt will lead the writing, and for 15 minutes, write everything and anything you can based on the ideas put forth.
Better writing, like anything, comes through practice. Each time I set a committment and embrace a challenge, I am amazed at my growth – and the things I learn about myself and the world. Without quite knowing what I’m going to write about, I discover more about myself than I imagined I could. Good luck – and happy writing.
To join the project, which launches today, May 31 – sign up here.
(If you’re curious about my writing for the month of June, I’ll probably publish a few excerpts here on this blog. For all the other posts, check out my less organized, much more chaotic tumblr page. Full disclosure: that site is my unfiltered thoughts and ramblings, and is not edited – it’s just stream. I contradict, I question, I lurch, I stumble, I babble – the normal of writing. For a more inside look at the way my brain works, check it out. But don’t hold it against me… )