Welcome to Week Three of the Fall In Love with Your Writing Life series! I can't believe that we're this far along already!
Can I just say, y'all are troopers. You are amazing.
I'm so proud of all the lionhearts who dove into this challenge, and I hope that you're feeling a little weak in the knees about your writing life!
And there's more fun up ahead! It's just going to get better! (Have I mentioned that I'm still super excited?? I have so many exclamation points I haven't used yet...)
This week is all about enjoyment. About a writing life that is marked by joy, pleasure, and fun.
Why be grim and tense about writing if we really don't have to be? Right?
Yeah. That's why we're here.
So let's dive in!
February 15: Take dancing lessons.
Today, we're talking about dancing.
And not in my usual, dance-your-writing-anxieties-out way. (Although that's still a good idea. By all means, let loose.)
I'm talking about dancing with your writing life.
And before that gets any weirder than it already sounds, what I mean is:
Write some poetry.
... I just figured we'd all freak out if I led with the "poetry" thing. So try to think of it like dancing lessons. I promise it will help.
TODAY'S CHALLENGE: Yes. Really. You. Poetry.
In particular, I'd love, love, love it if you wrote a haiku. (Or two. Or seven.)
What's the point of taking dancing lessons in a relationship?
It's about spending time with each other, learning a skill that brings you (literally) closer, and doing something beautiful together—or, actually, doing something silly.
Yes, you'll totally step on each other's feet. Yes, you might look ridiculous. But that's great!
It's a wonderful reminder that the point of dancing with someone you love isn't about doing it perfectly, or even about doing it right.
The point is: enjoying each other's company.
So, if this exercise makes you laugh, bonus points for you.
If you throw all kinds of words at the haiku but they just sound lame, bonus points for you!
And if you try this and find that you love it, then bonus points for you.
Get my point? It isn't about being a haiku master. It isn't about creating award-winning poetry.
It's about doing a dance with language. About putting your feet here and then there and then there, a little awkwardly, a little out of rhythm, but practicing at it—simply because those are the steps of the tango, the foxtrot.
Or the haiku.
A haiku is a three-line poem, and the length of the line is governed by syllables. Five syllables in the first line, seven in the second, five in the third. And that's it!
Here's a more detailed explanation... but seriously, just dive in for ten minutes and have fun. Let the syllables fly.
Forget about perfection: this is about enjoying your time together.
February 16: Contemplate.
Sometimes the mark of a really great relationship is that you can sit there in silence together.
Is that really the prompt for today?
Yes! Yes it is!
TODAY'S CHALLENGE: Free yourself from the need to be demonstrably productive. Just for fifteen minutes.
Can you sit in your writing area, and just practice feeling happy and peaceful there?
Think about enjoying the space, the feel of it. The ghosts of the words you've written here. The nebulous stories that you will write someday.
... If the idea of fifteen minutes of doing nothing makes you break into a rash, I get it. No worries: you can doodle on some scrap paper.
Or maybe scrawl a sentence... but try to write slowly.
Make a list of nouns you like, but in really, really slow motion. Like you're drawing the letters for the first time.
Or invent a word even longer and funnier than Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
Maybe you do that.
Or maybe you don't: And you just sit there, feeling open and available to the writing life, but without demanding anything back from it.
Is this a little weird? That's okay. It's just fifteen minutes. After this, we can all get back to optimizing and producing and tallying and researching and media-ing.
But I love to take the pressure of being productive out of the equation, just for a bit.
And let the life of words and writing mean more than just "getting this project finished."
Maybe, for these fifteen minutes at least, the writing life is a way of being. A direction. A type of feeling, and considering, and dreaming.
What if the writing life wasn't a career at all, but instead it was a life that loved stories and language?
What if all the books and blogs and essays were simply the by-products of a very happy marriage between a person and words?
If nothing else appeals, try spending your fifteen minutes contemplating that.
February 17: Get a little fancied up.
I love the freedom of working from home. Of being comfortable. Of wearing whatever.
But sometimes—I gotta be honest—my whole style statement can be summed up as "Didn't actually think about it."
(Fair enough. I'm working on figuring out the intersection between being extremely comfortable and having a legitimate style choice. At which point, I'll discover my dream writing uniform. One day, folks!! One day!)
There's this funny correlation between what I'm wearing and how I feel about my work.
It isn't necessarily dramatic. But it creeps in now and then.
And, if I'm in sloppy clothes, I can start feeling like my whole posture toward my work is, "I honestly don't care."
It can feel demeaning. I start saying, "Why bother."
Suddenly I feel a lot less like writing and a lot more like, say, polishing off a package of Oreos. (Let's be real.)
On the other hand: when I dress up—and I mean just a smidge, just a bit, just a little—it sets an intention.
It sends me a message about my work: I care about this. This matters to me. And I'm bringing my best.
That's how we want to show up to our work. And that's what we want the writing life to see from us.
TODAY'S CHALLENGE: Dress up a little for your writing today.
This isn't about being uncomfortable, or hiding yourself, or being less like you. Not at all!
It just means leaning into the work a little bit. Bringing a little sparkle. Doing something a little extra.
And that can look however you want it to.
Maybe this means just wearing some lip gloss, or maybe you're writing in a party dress today.
When I want to take things up a notch, I pull out this perfume. It's called Paper. (I promised you I was a nerd, right?)
It smells like the sweetness of—no kidding—paper.
When I feel like I'm having a drab writing day, sometimes I change my clothes, do something halfway decent to my hair, spritz this on, and then get back to work.
It doesn't make me an instant genius, but it does make me feel much more confident about what I'm writing and why.