The Best Opportunity of the Month (We're Making the Most of February Today!)

WE MADE IT.

Seriously, we just claimed February as a month of writing love, and I'm all kinds of thrilled about that!

After a month of fun writing life prompts, it's time to take stock, figure out what was best, and carry that into the rest of the year! A game changing day? Heck yes! | lucyflint.com

And now we get this amazing gift of an extra day in February (which I'm in nerd heaven about... I know, I know, I should be over the whole concept of Leap Day by now). 

Before this month wraps up, can we grab a moment and take stock? 

Whether you were only able to do a prompt or two, or whether you were here every day this month: TODAY is actually the day when we make the most of February. 

Yes! This is the most important day of the whole challenge


February 29: Keep the best. Change your writing life.

So I've had this really, really terrible habit that I'm trying to change. 

It used to be that I could find something that I loved, something that seemed to nurture me, something that made me feel more alive, or stronger, or more healthy. AWESOME, right?

And then ... I'd label it as optional.

This isn't something I have to get to. There are other things more mandatory, I'd figure.

Decide something is healthy; decide to skip it. That's what I would do.

Turns out that's a really great road to take if you're looking for burnout, discontentment, inauthenticity, and perpetual illness.

It's not so fun. Whoops.

So, for the last two years or so, I've been doing some major work, in all areas of my life. I keep asking myself, over and over: what is the best set of practices here? How can I get to them on a regular basis? What's getting in the way? How can I get rid of the obstacles?

It's the self-reflection version of heavy lifting.

And it is so essential to crafting an intentional, healthy writing practice!

TODAY'S CHALLENGE: Grab a little chunk of time and think back through the prompts from this month.

(I know, there were a bunch! If you need a refresher, here they are: Feb 1-3; Feb 4-7; Feb 8-10; Feb 11-14; Feb 15-17; Feb 18-21; Feb 22-24; Feb 25-28.)

  • Which prompts were an immediate win for you? The easy ones, the ones you were excited for, the ones that felt fun?
     
  • Which prompts presented the best challenge for you? The ones that might have been a stretch, but which brought you into a better place? Which did you get the most out of? (If you haven't had a chance to try them, which ones look the most helpful for you?)
     
  • And, hey, were there any that didn't work for you at all? What seemed like a terrible fit? (There's plenty in this writing life that isn't "one size fits all," so no worries if a prompt was a total fail for you. Now you know what not to do, right?)
     
  • What did you discover about yourselfas a writer? as a reader? as a manager? What did you learn about your approach to the writing life? Did anything surprise you?
     
  • Out of the prompts that you skippedwhich do you think could still bring something good into your writing life? (And can you schedule a time this week to try it?)
     
  • What do you want your writing life to look like, going forward? Which exercises or prompts do you want to do on a regular basis?

If you learned anything useful about your writing life, or about how you operate as a writer, or about what helps you thrive: you owe it to yourself to make that part of your regular practice. 

Find out what strengthens your writing, your voice, and your contentment, and pursue that. 

Seek what nourishes you.

Make it a constant in your writing life. Make it unmissable, unskippable. Treat it as sacred. 

And you'll be on your way to the healthiest and happiest writing life you can possibly have!


Oh, and as for me and the prompts this month: here's some of what I learned...

I needed those reading dates so badly! Somehow my reading life had jumped the tracks, and so the Sunday readings were exactly what I needed to relish some words again. (I've been reading this completely gorgeous book and maybe drooling just a little.) I'm going to keep leisurely Sunday afternoon reading as a priority.

I loved having the writing exercise refresher on February 10, as well as the haikus on February 15... definitely will be adding more freewriting into my mornings!

I'm thrilled with my refreshed writing areaclean and clutter free, thanks to February 13! 

And it's always so, so good for me to think about the kind of writing heart I want to have one day (February 25).

What about you? Which prompts were your favorites?

And what kinds of habits do you want to take with you from this February challenge?

We're Playing for Keeps: A Lifelong Love of Writing

This is your last batch of prompts for the Fall In Love with Your Writing Life series...

Can you believe it??

Our last batch of prompts for falling in love with the writing life: We're looking long term and feeling all the warm fuzzy feelings. It's a beautiful thing. | lucyflint.com

One of the best joys of the writing life is that you can't ever be disqualified from it.

You can do this for the rest of your life. There is no aging out.

It's something you get to do forever: look at the world around you, look at the world inside you, and make stories out of it.

How freaking amazing is that? 

For these last few days, we're just going to camp out there, and get plenty happy about it.

If you feel like bringing some champagne along, do so.

Let's go.


February 25: Write a letter.

When we're working hard, we obviously focus on what writing goals are immediately in front of us. I've got some plans when it comes to 2016 and 2017, and I bet you do too. 

Most of my plans, though, are about production. Publication. Projects launched. New projects proposed.

All very exciting. My fingertips get all tingly when I think about it.

But for today, we're gonna think about goals in a different way.

Namely: What kind of a writer's heart do you want to aim for?

What kind of perspective? How might your approach to writing shift? 

What kind of writer do you hope to be? 

TODAY'S CHALLENGE: One more letter to write. You up for it? 

Let's do a bit of thinking first. Get an idea of the kind of writer you want to be—what kind of writer's heart, what kind of writer's spirit?

What issues will you take a stand against, in your work? What causes will you give to?

Who will you dignify? Who will you write for? What kinds of worlds will you give voice to?

I know it's hard to dream in this direction, but I think it's worth our time to explore a bit.

... My best example of this is more of a cautionary tale: When I was wrapping up my English degree and getting all prepared (read: anxious) for a writing life, I met with a full-time writer who was about 8-10 years older than I was. 

I was full of questions. I was a little desperate and nervous and excited.

Here's what I remember about her: She was the most bitter and discouraging writer I've ever met. 

It was a miserable chat.

I walked away from that with no useable advice but this (and it's a biggie): I don't want to end up like her.

I don't want to wind up bitter. I don't want to trade in my peace of mind and happiness and joy. No matter what the publication game looks like, I want to stick with this for the love.

See what I mean?

So what does that look like for you?

When you have a sense of the kinds of virtues and values you want to embody, draft a letter. 

It doesn't have to be long. But try and capture that idea of You, the Writer, ten or twenty or fifty years further down the road.

Oh, and this time, you're writing the letter to yourself. In the future. 

(I know it's weird, but hey: a lot of our readers live in the future. When you think of it like that, no big deal.)

Start by saying something like: Dear Future Writer-Me, This is who I think you are...

And basically, sketch it out. Who is this future writer that's you?

(Personally, I'm dreaming of a future Lucy who is totally perfectionism-free, who has great writing stamina but also knows how to rest and enjoy the rest of her life, who gives courage to kids in story form, who...


February 26: A movie date!

I don't care if it's cheesy: I get so happy when watching a movie that features writing. 

TODAY'S CHALLENGE: Tonight, watch a movie that has something to do with writing, books, readers, or the writing life. 

Why? Because it's fun!

And that's all the reason we need around here, right?

My perennial favorites are Stranger than FictionMidnight in Paris, The Help, and Finding Neverland. Oh! And then Dan in Real Life when they meet in a bookstore... 

(If you have a killer recommendation, by all means let us know in the comments. I need to find some new ones!)

Tonight isn't about writing anything down.

Just watch. Have some fun.


February 27: Celebrate.

TODAY'S CHALLENGE: Today, sit in your writing space, or take a journal somewhere else that's peaceful, and just think about this:

You and the writing life—you're committed. 

You are going to spend the rest of your lives learning about each other. This is the long haul! 

There is so much more to the writing life than any of us can explore in a handful of decades.

More to learn about novels, about structure and form. More ways to break the rules.

There are more subjects to explore than any of us could cover... and an infinite number of subjects to invent!

That is a pretty amazing deal.

We're never going to be bored! Ever!

We get to keep the writing life. That's freaking fantastic.

Oh, and then there's you. You're pretty dang incredible yourself.

I'm just saying: The writing life got someone really special in you.

It will spend the rest of your life finding ways to spin everything you think and see and wonder about into words, into sentences, into strings of dialogue.

Bits of you will show up in characters and subplots. Parts of your thinking and your experiences will wind up in readers' brains, their ways of speaking. 

You'll be all over the place!

... If you feel like it, you can write about this. Or not.

You can also just sit there in the quiet and know that this is a life-long love.  

You have each other. And that's beautiful.

So pour yourself a toast, or throw a little party, or just sit there in the stillness.

However it looks to you, take a moment and really celebrate.


February 28: Stay close to your reading life, too.

TODAY'S CHALLENGE: It's Sunday! You know what to do. Find yourself a patch of sunlight and a truly lovely book.

And fall into reading. 

The fact that we're lifelong writers means that we're lifelong readers. We're always learning, always absorbing.

Always wandering through other writer's brains, and taking snapshots of the scenery in there.

A reading life. It's one of the happiest, most connected ways to be.

And it's ours! To keep! Forever!


Thanks to Leap Day, we have one more prompt in the series, my friends!

(It thrills me to no end that we have a February 29 this year!! Trying to be dignified about that ... but failing. Leap years are cool.)

Anyway, check back on Monday for one last Love-Your-Writing-Life prompt.

Til then: happy dreaming!

Are You Ready To Amaze Yourself? (Exploring Possibilities and Loving Writing. ... You Know. The Usual.)

These three prompts are gonna knock us out of any little ruts we've been in.

Instead, we'll practice being writers who see dazzling possibilities in the information we read, the places we go, and the projects we dream up.

It's going to be a lovely ride... 

Get your goggles on and let's get started!

We're investigating three simple ways to strike out in new directions with our imaginations and our words. Loving your writing life through new possibilities? Heck yes. Join us over at lucyflint.com

February 22: Be a sleuth.

I know, I know. I've already gone on record about my massive love affair with the reference section, and how it's like taking superpower pills for my imagination.

But it is so freaking worth it to make this a regular part of our writing lives!

So just go with me on this.

TODAY'S CHALLENGE: Pick up a reference book you don't normally grab.

Maybe something medical, or a botany index. A random chunk of the encyclopedia, or one of the incredible hyper-specific volumes in the reference section of your local library. 

Flip through it for fifteen minutes. And just write down everything that delights you.

This isn't RESEARCH. This isn't looking for FACTS.

This is about being exposed to and charmed by words and phrases and sentences that you aren't around all the time.

This is about wandering around, wearing your imagination's heart on your sleeve, and falling hard for the strangest and loveliest bits of information you come across. 

Go ahead. Let yourself geek out a bit.

(My latest delight? I just found out about the tradition of night climbing in Cambridge. Those photographs!! Swoon!)


February 23: Be a spy.

TODAY'S CHALLENGE: Go somewhere where you don't normally think of writing, exactly. Someplace that isn't overtly literary...

But bring the writing life with you.

Maybe you're sitting at the bar of a restaurant and watching the chefs zip around the kitchen.

Or maybe you're in a concert hall, an art museum, a church service, or a graveyard.

Wherever calls you most: Go.

And while you're there, imagine you're a literary spy. 

You're an emissary, a representative of the writing life.

Study everything, like you've just fallen into a novel. Like you could spin a story out of this moment, this place.

Bring a blank notebook and jot down phrases, notes on the atmosphere, or even just a single word that seems to sum it all up. Catch the juiciest bits of dialogue you overhear.

You don't have to write much. It can be just a few notes and scribblings... or it can be a huge, lyrical, epic poem.

But try to enter that place of having a writer's eyes in a "non-writing" place.

And just see what happens.


February 24: Be extravagant.

TODAY'S CHALLENGE: Start a dozen little projects today. Writing projects.

You and your writing life. Put your heads together, and dream. 

Yes, really.

Yes, even if you already have plenty of unused ideas floating around. (What's a few more, lionheart?)

These new ideas don't have to be more than one sentence, or even one word. 

Invent a series of books together. Maybe it's four novels, or sixteen quick chapter books for kids, or an epic saga cycle of five huge fantasy books.

Maybe it's a whole detective series based on the amazing bits of info you picked up on Monday, and the place you visited yesterday.

If this makes you feel crazy, just shake it off. Have a light touch. No sweat. This isn't "for real." You're not committed to any of this. It's just for fun.

This is like talking about the dream plans for a future house, or places you want to travel, or all the kids you want to have.

This is just about entertaining possibilities. 

So lean into it.

Suggest titles. Dream up the most off-the-wall protagonist ever.

Write a sentence or five for each of the ideas.

Or, just come up with a huge list of pretend character names.

Or invent the cities and empires that will rise and fall at your command. Make maps. 

Goof off together. Try to come up with bigger concepts, the more impossible the better.

Dream huge dreams, you and your writing life, together.

Give each other the moon, the world, a whole solar system. 

Dazzle yourself with the possibilities.

Isn't this dangerous? Nah. You can come back down to earth later, and have a renewed appreciation for the sweetness of your current work-in-progress. It's a wonderful thing after all.

... Or, wait. Yes. Yes, it is dangerous, incredibly so. We're playing with ideas, after all. It might as well be dynamite.

You might be laying the imaginative tracks that you will sail down in a year or two, on your way to becoming one of the most inventive writers of your generation. 

You daring lionheart, you!


We're coming down to the end of the month! Can you believe it??

Come back on Thursday for your last batch of writing life prompts... 

And in the meantime, happy dreaming!

How to Bring Playfulness Back Into Our Writing Lives

Here you go, four more prompts for loving your writing life like crazy.

Because writers who love their writing and who give it all they've got will create better books and a better marketplace and better readers with better lives for a better world. 

Whoa. Hold up. Did I just say we're changing the world?

Yes. Yes I did.

And here you were thinking it was just another Thursday. ;)

We're aiming for less angst and more play this weekend. Loving our writing lives.

We can camp out too long in the work and routines and productivity side of things... Every now and then, you gotta let loose and play. Your writing life with thank you. (Four more prompts for loving your writing life.) | lucyflint.com

Okay? Sound good? 

Let's go!


February 18: Write a letter.

It is so easy for me to get into a kind of productivity-and-optimization loop.

I'm trying to be a good boss, right? And it usually takes all my skills to manage some kind of balance between really hard work and excellent self-care. Whew!

I focus so hard on trying to do it all that I forget about... play.

About throwing every plan out the window now and then for the sake of a creative romp.

I forget to explore, to go on creative dates, to seek writing adventures.

Obviously, we can't play all the time. We've got books to write! And routines are the BFFs of productivity.

And yet...

Every now and then, the writing life—the creative life—needs a big injection of off-the-wall fun. It keeps us engaged, it churns up new ideas, it helps us be more advanced problem solvers. It keeps us from burning out, getting blocked, hitting walls.

It is super important. We have to take time to play and delight and discover.

What does that look like for you and your writing life? That's what we're going to explore.

TODAY'S CHALLENGE: It's our third Thursday, and so our third letter-writing prompt!

This time, start by saying, Dear Writing Life, I wish we did more of...

And then go from there. Take ten to fifteen minutes, and have some fun with it. Dig around to find what it is that you're missing in your creativity, what you're craving in your writing.

What sounds outrageously fun to you? What kinds of "research" would be incredible? What kind of intrepid explorer-writer do you really want to be?

Go crazy. And fill your letter with all the things you genuinely wish you were doing more of in your writing life.

And then? Pick one. (If they all seem impossible, pick part of one.)

Choose something, and then, you know, do it. 

Try to do some version of it today, or this weekend, or sometime soon. But add a little taste of that off-the-wall play to your writing life.


February 19: Go off on an adventure together.

There's something extra special about going to literary places. Large dramatic libraries, the homes and significant place of famous authors, book-lover festivals... 

Mmmm. It's so nurturing to remember, now and then, that we're part of a much, much bigger tribe of readers, writers, scribblers, creators, storytellers, and dreamers. 

TODAY'S CHALLENGE: Take some time to go on a literary pilgrimage. This can be as elaborate or un-elaborate as you like.

Maybe you go to a local literary site. (If you're fortunate enough to live near one, that is. But do a little searching before assuming you're disqualified, because you might be surprised at famous authors who lived near by!)

Or maybe you head off to a really glamorous library that's not too far away. (All those books... swoon!)

Maybe you hit your local university's library, but you finally nose around their rare books area. Or you finally go to that used bookstore you've been meaning to check out, and you just get lost for a while.

If you're in the middle of the middle of nowhere, it is totally okay to go online for this, and browse beautiful libraries, or investigate your favorite authorial places online.

(Oooh, look, here are 15 famous author's beautiful estates, and 12 literary pilgrimages, and the Library of Congress recorded podcasts from past book festivals...  ) 


February 20: Word revelry.

A love of writing and a love of reading: it boils down to a love of words. 

Which is why, today, we're going to browse a book about words, just for the heck of it. 

Have you gloried in the entries of a dictionary in a while? And I mean an actual, paper-and-ink-and-binding kind of dictionary, not just entries on a screen. (Shudder.) 

TODAY'S CHALLENGE: Find a book that's full of words and what they mean. 

Some sort of dictionary or compendium or thesaurus. 

And just play around! Read entries at random.

Pronounce (out loud! dramatically!) all the words you haven't heard of before.  

Find the quirkiest ones. Read up on their etymologies, on the histories of where the words came from, their little family trees.

Summon the kind of mood that makes you want to buy souvenirs on your travels, or pick up river stones while hiking: Read these words with an eye toward taking them home with you. 

Look for words that are beautiful or strange, and pick 'em up. Put them in your pockets.

Write down your favorites and stick them in your writing area. 

Hold on to your delight in words. It's one of the most constant sources of magic we have.


February 21: Tumble into paragraphs.

Yep, the third Sunday of the challenge looks just like the rest. 

TODAY'S CHALLENGE: Get a book and get cozy, and then fall headlong into a lazy pool of reading.

This isn't reading fast, to clock an impressive number pages-per-hour.

This isn't reading to cram for information.

This is reading for the love of it.

So let yourself slow down. Linger over the sentences.

This kind of slow, dreamy reading can be game-changing, by the way. It helped me through one of the hardest times in my life.

During an emotionally brutal year of college, I would sneak off to an empty little common room with a fireplace, and I'd sit there and read, very slowly. I imagined that I could hear the writer speaking directly to me, as if he had written every word just so I could hear it, just at that moment.

... And it wasn't any kind of dizzy gushy poetry, either. It was a few personal essays (from this book) by Max Beerbohm and G.K. Chesterton and E.B. White.

For those hours of reading, I pretended that they were all sitting around me, smoking pipes, and speaking these amazing sentences, making me laugh, and transporting me.

It was like a true teleportation experience, a vacation among literary uncles, and yes, it helped enormously.

That kind of reading is a beautiful thing.

So find some time, and go deep with your reading today. 

What Happens to You If You Actually *Enjoy* Writing?

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!

That old mentality that says writing must be grim and excruciating? Pffft. The old school isn't always best. Let's shift that paradigm. What would happen to you if you actually *enjoyed* writing?? Come find out. | lucyflint.com

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? 

Hmm.

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.

*swoon*

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.


I hope you have an incredibly yummy and fun week with your writing! Check back on Thursday for four more ways to dive deeper into joy and love in your writing life. 

Want to revisit the older prompts? Here are the first four posts in the series: one, two, three, four.

Happy writing!

Go Flirt with Books! (And Other Fun Ways to Love the Writing Life)

Okay, lionhearts. How's it going for you?

I hope you're having fun with this Love Your Writing Life series, and that you're experiencing a bit more fun and a lot more love in your writing life.

... I'm aiming for butterflies in the stomach, but anything cheery is good with me!

Over the next few days, we'll be celebrating more and more... Ready? Let's go!

The next installment of the Love Your Writing Life series: we're going to be flirting with books, celebrating our happiest writing moments, giving gifts, and savoring words. SO much writerly fun--join us! | lucyflint.com

February 11: Write a letter.

TODAY'S CHALLENGE: Just like last Thursday, we're taking a little time today to write a letter to the Writing Life. But this time, let's begin by saying: 

Dear Writing Life, I remember when you and I...

Let the letter be full of your happiest moments together. Feel free to just list 'em out: all the best times in your life of words, whatever that was, however it look. 

All your happy moments around reading, writing, words, bookstores, friends who love talking about books and writing, the mythology around Shakespeare, the movie Midnight in Paris, author crushes, your favorite fiction, the characters you invented, the moments when you were writing and it felt like flying...

All of it. Get it all down.

If you can, try to capture what you first loved about it. What drew your attention. What was bubbling in your heart when you decided to commit, to get serious about it.

When you're done, you'll have one of the best resources you can possibly create: a letter that you can reread every time you feel discouraged, when you get nasty criticism, when you have too many days where the writing is hard.

You'll have your best reminder, and in your own words, of what you most love in the writing life: It's your personalized guide for getting back on track.


February 12: Go flirt at a bookstore.

TODAY'S CHALLENGE: Get yourself to a bookstore, or a library, or any other place that has shelves and shelves of books.

And then, get flirtatious. 

Not with other people! Pfft. I mean with books.

Scan the titles, open dozens of them, read all the first lines on one shelf, or (if you're feeling very brazen) read all the final pages.

Flip through them at random, run your fingers over the spines, smell the pages. Admire the fancy endpapers, the beautifully rough-cut edges.

Be one of those eccentric daydreamy book lovers.

In the words of that famous relationship specialist Ray Bradbury,

You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders
to sniff books like perfumes
and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads.

To which I would add: By all means, get yourself a raspberry & white chocolate mocha at the coffee shop.

I mean, let's go all out. This is love after all.


February 13: Buy flowers; buy chocolates.

TODAY'S CHALLENGE: Give your writing life a gift. Something fun, something special.

It can be really silly and playful (bright and cheery office supplies!), or it can be super serious (amazingly fancy fountain pen). 

It doesn't have to be expensive or super involved, but it DOES have to make your heart beat faster. A little giddiness is a very, very good thing.

You can go as far with this as you'd like: overhaul your office area and make it feel like a place where you would love to spend your time.

Design a writing life care package and then give it to yourself.

... Or just grab a cheap but lovely candle and put rose petals all over your desk.

If you can't afford to buy anything, no worries. I'm with you. The writing life doesn't necessarily bring in money—so let's do something else to express affection.

Rearrange your office area, bring in a lamp or cozy pillows from other parts of your house. Brighten it up. Make it beautiful.

Or hand letter a wonderful writerly quote that means a lot to both of you. (If you need inspiration, I put a bunch of my favorite quotes into this post.) Make some art. Handmade gifts are often the best!

Whatever it looks like for you—make your writing space more lovely, more special, more fun. Make it feel noticed.


February 14: Savor a meeting of minds.

TODAY'S CHALLENGE: No matter what your other Valentine's Day plans are, take a little time today to read something beautiful. Something delightful.

It can be romantic poetry, or a sharp and funny personal essay. A stack of Elephant & Piggie books, or your favorite Agatha Christie mystery.

But whatever you choose, take a little time to snuggle up with words. Decorate your day with language. 

Savor the words. Try to hold them on your tongue for a moment. Let yourself read slow, read at a snail's pace.

Like every word is made of expensive chocolate.

Catch the feel of the phrase, the way language is like music. 

It's a beautiful thing, the reading life.

(And oh, if today feels more like Singleness Awareness Day, I'm totally with you. Invite a really amazing book to keep you company. Do a little readerly time travel, a bit of teleportation.

After all, Stephen King says that reading is telepathy, "a meeting of the minds." Who are we to argue? Take some time for mind-meeting. It's really not a bad way to spend February 14.)


And there you have it, lionhearts. We're about halfway through February at this point, and halfway through the series! I hope it's been fun for you so far!

I would looooove to know: What has been the most fun prompt for you? What have you enjoyed the most, or what's been the most productive? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

Meanwhile, Happy Valentine's Day, you beautiful writers! And come back on Monday for your next batch of prompts.

Boldly Loving Our Writing Lives (Because Actions Speak Louder Than... You Know.)

February is all about falling in love... with your writing life! If you're new to this series, check back with the week one posts, here and here

It's the third installment of our Loving Your Writing Life Series... These prompts are gonna double-dare you to *act* like you love your writing life like crazy, even if you don't quite feel that way. Yet. (It'll come.) | lucyflint.com

Last week we started clearing some ground, getting rid of negativity, and looking at how we think and talk about writing. 

This week, the fun really begins. We'll be playing around, being silly, and having a blast.

Yep. I mean it. Having a blast with our writing lives. Sound good to you? 

If it doesn't, if you're still not in a great place with writing, I'd like to just say this: 

There is some really fantastic advice out there, that says when you act as if something is true, you eventually start feeling like it's true.

Interesting, right? Emotions can follow actions.

And that's the principle that we're going to exploit this week. 

Let's practice acting like we love the writing life, and maybe those warm fuzzies will follow. Worth a try, right? 

Let's dive in.


February 8: Steal some moments.

I don't know exactly why this is true, but when I start stealing little moments out of the rest of my day to spend on writing, several things happen:

  • I start feeling more excited about my work.
  • It gets even easier to continue working, to keep stealing more moments... a nice little snowball effect.
  • And I generally feel happier. Like I'm doing something special.

It's a little like the phenomenon of keeping secrets about our work.

By the way, adding extra little sessions of writing isn't a productivity strategy. It can be, of course. But today we're doing it to have more fun, not to do more work. It's an important difference.

We're just turning our attention to our work, and giving it a wink. Taking a few minutes to play with characters, play with sentences, enjoy the words. 

TODAY'S CHALLENGE: Take fifteen minutes today to write when you normally wouldn't.

And you can totally break it up: Maybe this means three little bursts of five minutes, or all fifteen at once, or a bunch of two-minute sessions. However you like.

Maybe you decide to write as the first thing in your day, or maybe the very last. Maybe you slip it in between appointments, or sit in your car for fifteen minutes after getting home—writing in that little space of quiet before diving back into the fray.

Maybe it's you and your morning tea, or maybe you're jotting notes in the line at the grocery store. 

However it looks for you, the main objective is: Write when it's not a usual time for you to write.

And the second main objective is: Keep it playful and fun. 

This isn't serious. It isn't work. It isn't burdensome.

It's meant to be lighthearted, and a little quirky. Have fun with it.


February 9: Write silly little love notes.

Yes. You read that correctly.

Just go with me on this. Remember, we're acting in the way that we want to feel, even if we don't feel this way yet.

Okay? Okay.

TODAY'S CHALLENGE: Write a silly little love note to your writing life.

Take that whole relationship of you + words. And send it a love note.

It can be super short. It doesn't have to be overly gushy. You can do this even if you think it's the dumbest thing EVER. 

You can just write, "I cannot believe Lucy is making me do this, but, Writing Life, I think you're pretty great." 

That's all it has to be! I promise! Just write it.

And then stick it somewhere where your writing life will see it. In your journal, in the pen cup on your desk, on your bulletin board.

If this is fun, and if you aren't rolling your eyes at me right now, you can write as many notes as you like.

Celebrate all the tiny little things about the writing life that often get forgotten. And feel free to keep it silly. 


February 10: Enjoy each other's company.

One thing about healthy relationships: you spend time in each other's company for no other reason except that you like each other.

Just hanging out, just having fun, just because you can.

What does that look like for us? 

Actual writing. 

(Don't get scared.)

Writing exercises are the perfect place to have some fun with words, in a no pressure situation. (No pressure writing. How nice is that?)

TODAY'S CHALLENGE: Here's the deal. I'm going to give you six writing prompts, and you'll pick five.

Grab a timer, and spend three minutes on each writing prompt.

Just three minutes!! You can do anything for three minutes.

I'd encourage you to do this even if it feels like a TERRIBLE idea. Even if your brain has been blank for WEEKS.

You don't even have to write in complete sentences. You can write only nouns and verbs, or snippets and phrases, or just scratch your pen over the page in huge lines.

Just enter the writing space. Put down a few words. That's all.

But mostly? I'd love for you to enjoy writing just because you can.

Choose to enjoy it. This doesn't have to be hard. No one's going to read it.

You can write the silliest things, you can spend all three minutes writing down one sentence over and over, or creating a huge run-on sentence.

I don't really care what you come up with, but I'd love for you to write, and to write with the mindset of enjoying it. Words on pages. It really is a lovely thing.

Ready for your writing prompts? (If none of these work for you, I have fifty crazier ones over here.)

  • The flock of starlings tumbled around in the sky, and for a moment they formed the exact shape of...
  • When we finally opened the door, we saw...
  • It was the last thing I expected to hear on a summer morning.
  • "This," he said, "is why I never like poetry..."
  • The most eccentric babysitter I ever had was... 
  • Even when I'm old, even when I'm dying, I'll never forget the smell of... 

Pick your five favorites, three minutes each. Just write the first word or image that comes to your mind, and follow it. It can be from your own life, or just total fiction. Okay?

The main thing is, decide to have fun. Ready, set, go!


I really hope that you've had some fun with this challenge so far! I'd love to hear how it's going for you, so please do leave a comment so I can cheer you on.

And then come back on Thursday for more fun ideas for loving your writing life!! (And more exclamation marks. They'll be coming fast and furious for the rest of the month...)

Kicking Out the Negativity (So We Can Fall in Love with Writing!)

We're going to keep shedding the negative ways we think about writing... so that we can open ourselves up to a super healthy and, yes, head over heels relationship with our writing lives! | lucyflint.com

How are you feeling, lionheart? How were the first three days of the challenge for you? (If you're new to this series on Falling in Love with Your Writing Life, check out the first post right here.) 

My hope is that we're all shaking out some of the negative feelings we've carried around about writing. That we're shining some light on them, and scaring them out of their dark corners.

For the rest of this week, I'm hoping we can either squash them, or at least send 'em skittering on their way.

(Is anyone else thinking about roaches right now, or is that just me? Ahem.)

Sound like a plan? Cool. I'm excited. 

Okay, here are the prompts for the rest of the week... 


February 4: Write a letter.

There's something downright magical about writing a letter. Something about that format, that invitation to be honest.

Today, we're writing two letters. One of them is from you to your writing life. And in the other, the writing life will be writing back to you.

(Just go with me on this.)

TODAY'S CHALLENGE: Take a little bit of time, and write a letter to your writing life. And begin by saying: "Dear Writing Life, I'm afraid that you will..."

And then go from there.

Tell it all the things that you're worried about in your writing life. All the fears you have—the big ones, and the really really little ones. Everything you'd try to dismiss if someone asked about it. The things that maybe embarrass you.

No one's going to read this—except your Writing Life, and it probably already knows all this anyway.

Dig deep. And be as honest as possible. Get it all down.

Because, seriously, you don't need those thoughts just scampering loose on their own in your mind. Grab them, drag them into the light, and pin them onto the paper with words.

Whew. 

Then, write that second letter. The Writing Life is going to write back to you, and answer your fears.

It can't guarantee things that it has no control over (audience response, family response, critics, money, fame). But there are a lot of other things that it can promise. There are a lot of wonderful things that it can give in return. And there is a lot of courage in it, just waiting for you.

The writing life is really wise. It's been around a long, long time.

Give it a chance. Listen hard. And see what it writes back to you.


February 5: Let's redefine "bad" writing days.

I recently came across this idea from Rachel Aaron, and I absolutely love it.

She explains that difficult writing days—days where our imaginations seem to go on strike, where the words won't come, or where we can't seem to get to our desks—are actually telling us something important.

And—spoiler alert—it isn't telling us that we're lazy, unmotivated, undisciplined, stupid, ignorant, blah blah blah.

That's not what bad writing days mean at all. 

She says: "Instead of treating bad writing days as random, unavoidable disasters to be weathered, like thunderstorms, I started treating them as red flags."

She realized that they meant: Her story had gone in the wrong direction.

Or, that she didn't actually love what she was writing about. 

The most effective way to get back into writing, to be writing with joy, was to fix those problems. Whatever they were.

Which did NOT mean: beating herself up. 

Isn't that an incredible shift? Such a game changer.

She comes from the point of view that maintains: Writing is enjoyable. Telling stories is fun.

This writing life is an inherently good thing, which means that, if it doesn't feel good, something's gone wrong.

And that something isn't you.

You're not the problem!! Isn't that a lovely thought?!

TODAY'S CHALLENGE: Maybe you haven't had a bad writing day in months; or maybe you're having one right this second

Either way, let's practice shifting our focus. Let's take it for granted that a bad writing day doesn't mean anything bad about you, the person, the writer.

Actually, you're great. Let's just all accept that.

And it doesn't mean that the writing life is a terrible, stingy, horrific machine of punishment for the unsuspecting.

Nope. The writing life is great too.

Instead, let's assume that something else is going on. 

Let's assume that a bad writing day is more like seeing the first few symptoms of flu show up. 

It really doesn't help to be angry at ourselves for catching it. It doesn't help to rail against immune systems having a momentary weakness and letting those germs grow.

All that really matters is that partnership between Human and Immune System, and blasting those germs together. Yes? Yes.

The same thing goes for tough writing days. It isn't your fault, and it isn't the writing life's fault. Something else is amiss.

Today, take fifteen minutes and list everything else that might be contributing to a bad writing day for you. (If you're not having a bad one, think back to the last one you did have.)

What else is going on? Maybe it's external, non-writing stuff. Maybe you don't have enough energy.

Or maybe something's gone off in your work-in-progress. Do you love the subject? Has something shifted? Did you lose an element that made you happy? 

What is your absolute favorite thing to write about? Have you lost track of it, in this story, in this bad writing day?

You get the idea. Probe around. Try to find out what might have gone wrong.

Keep reminding yourself: it isn't you. It isn't the writing life.

Instead, explore what might have happened together, and play around with ideas for how to get it back on track.


February 6: Discover the best true advice.

I don't know about you, but when I'm in the midst of a problem, I can be totally blind to something I already know.

But if someone I care about goes through the same thing—I become a fount of wisdom. I have legitimately helpful things to say. 

Sometimes we don't have the right words for ourselves. Sometimes, we find them when we help other people.

TODAY'S CHALLENGE: On your best day, on your absolute best day, when you are your wisest, happiest, kindest, and most content self... what would you tell someone else about the writing life?

Imagine that you're describing it to someone who hasn't really tried it on yet, but someone that you think would be an excellent fit. Someone who you know will be a good writer and will thrive... but who needs your nudge to get started. Someone you genuinely want the best for, and you believe that that's the writing life.

How would you sum it up?

What true things would you say about what the writing life has meant to you? What is it really like, this pursuit of words? What can your friend expect? What will she find?

Write it down. Write as much as you like. Try to write for about ten minutes, if you can.

Then look over your words, and choose a sentence or a phrase that really sums up what you've written down, and copy it separately onto a little sticky note.

And above your sentence, write: "This is what I REALLY think about writing." 

And then post it in your writing area. 

Those are your words. Your real definition of writing. And it's true.

Steer by it. On days when you're tempted to be frustrated at writing, let your own words remind you of what you really believe.


February 7: Enjoy the reward of reading.

TODAY'S CHALLENGE: This is what we're going to do every Sunday this month. We're going to find about half an hour and we're going to read something lovely.

That can mean whatever you want it to. Grab a favorite novel or a new one. Find some really excellent non-fiction, or a book of letters, or poetry. (Mary Oliver and Billy Collins are my favorites!)

Or dive into some kids' books. Because language always sounds better after Dr. Seuss has been playing with it.

All I want you to do is make some space, and fall into a pile of words. 

Without envying the writer's skill. Without even a whisper of comparison. 

Enjoy the words simply because you enjoy them. Let them transport you.

Let yourself love the reading life with absolute abandon.

Because the reading life is always our way back to a truly wonderful writing life.


I hope this first week of prompts goes really well for you! Feel free to leave comments on how it's going, and please do share with anyone who might love this too!


Ready for more? Get the next prompts right here!

Fall in Love with Your Writing Life: A Super-Exciting February Series!

If you've felt a little distanced from your writing life lately, or if you're doing just fine: Either way, have we got a series for you!! Daily prompts for falling back into love with your writing life. This means you. Get ready to be a lot happier. | lucyflint.com

Friends!! I am beyond excited to introduce this February series. 

In honor of Valentine's Day and heart-shaped everything, we're going to focus on love this month. 

To be specific: Falling in love with our writing lives. 

As in: Meeting each other again for the first time. Reigniting that spark that made you love each other in the first place. And then, dating your writing life. 

Yes, really. Yes, you. 

For those of you who think that this is an incredibly weird metaphor: I understand. Really.

But when you think about it, it makes sense to think of having a relationship with writing, with the writing life. Because it acts like a true relationship in so many ways.

There are emotions. There's a trajectory of growth. There are even kids/books, if you'd like to go there.

Best of all, there's an ability to love writing more. And there's an ability to feel loved and accepted as the writers we are, in return.

Which is exactly what I'm aiming for by the end of this month, for all of us.

This daily, love-your-writing-life challenge is especially for you if: 

  • You feel like you and your writing life have been at odds lately.
  • If you have all kinds of EMOTIONS about your writing life. Feeling guilty, stressed, tired, uncreative. 
  • If things have just felt dry lately. Like you've lost your spark.
  • Or, if everything's going along swimmingly. Why not dive even deeper?

(Did I mention I'm super excited about this??)

Details: I'll post on Mondays and Thursdays like usual, and I'll have prompts listed for each day. Most will just take fifteen minutes or less.

Feel free to tweak them: If you don't have fifteen minutes, do a five-minute version. If the prompt says to go out and you can't, use the Internet. These prompts can be as flexible as you like.

The main point is: Just show up. Try these exercises, these new ways of thinking.

Let's be willing to be a little "out there," in the hopes that we all find a warmer, kinder, healthier, and HAPPIER writing life. 

That's what I want. All us lionhearts just incredibly happy with our writing lives.

Does that sound good? Sound like a plan?

Awesome.

Roll up your sleeves, find a blank notebook or a blank document, take a deep breath, and let's dive in.


February 1: Releasing expectations.

Any relationship can get cluttered with unrealistic expectations. They shape how we interpret behavior, they influence our demands, and—they make us really grumpy.

What are your hidden expectations for the writing life?

And what do you think the writing life has been expecting of you?

I used to expect that the writing life would: Make me lots of money, help me become more confident, and get me some nice splashy attention. (If it made me somehow look more amazing, that would be fine too.)

WHOOPS. That's not what the writing life does.

What the writing life actually promises is this: You will be surrounded by words, by reading and writing. And you will discover parts of yourself and the world around you through writing about them. That is the deal.

What I was looking for was more like a finishing school, a business degree, a public relations consultant, and a really great salon visit rolled into one. 

Meanwhile, I felt like the writing life expected certain things from me. 

I thought it wanted me to be a lot smarter than I am, more prone to writing poems. I thought it wanted me to have better taste in what I read. And I should belong to at least two writing groups where we give each other really insightful critiques on these novels that we'll take twenty years to write, and which will eventually be honored for all time.

WHOOPS. What the writing life actually got was: Me. Plain old Lucy.

With all my quirks, and all my loves, my absence of chic writing groups, no poems for years now, very messy drafts, very messy filing system, very messy desk. (I'm looking at you, stack of unwashed dishes!!)

Here's what I've learned: We writers don't have to be any different than who we actually are. 

You don't have to be any nerdier or smarter or more intrepid. You don't have to have had a better childhood or a worse one. You didn't need to have perfect grades or terrible ones. Your teachers might have loved your work or hated it. 

The Writing Life doesn't need you to be anything other than who you are. It just wants you to be honest about yourself, your life, your experiences, your perspective.

And willing to show up, using words.

In return, it can't promise money, splashy publishing deals, or fame.

But it does offer an incredible life of chasing ideas and images through words. Of describing the world around you, and creating whole new worlds together.

Which is a really lovely promise. 

TODAY'S CHALLENGE: Take ten to fifteen minutes, and write down what you feel like you've expected from the writing life. Maybe you didn't realize you were expecting it, or maybe you did. But write down everything that you thought would happen to you and for you, just because you were writing. 

Also, if you feel like the whole image of "the Writing Life" meant that you had to be a different kind of person: write down all those things, those expectations, too. 

And then: Release them. Release them all.

Write down your statement of release: that you are going to let the writing life be exactly what it is. And that the writing life is THRILLED to see you show up as exactly who you are. 


February 2: Forgive the past.

This is tied to yesterday's challenge, but with a slightly different flavor.

If you've been doing this writing thing for a little while, there are probably some hurts in the past. 

There are drafts you never fixed, which sit in drawers, in closets, like little shipwrecks, taunting you.

Maybe there were times when you turned your back on the writing life for a month, or three, or whole years. Maybe you've had times where it felt like it was the writing that abandoned you. 

Maybe you've had some fights. (I've had three biggies.) Maybe there were threats. Words you didn't take back.

Maybe you even felt betrayed by an absence of creativity, by an idea that died halfway through the project.

Maybe you leaned hard on those false expectations, and then felt horribly let down. Maybe it even felt very realistic at the time.

Here's my embarrassing story: I once wrote an essay to enter a competition where the award was—I kid you not—a house

I thought: Perfect. My writing prowess will solve this little housing issue I have. 

... I didn't win.

It's ridiculous, but I was so mad at writing for a while. Never mind that the house probably went to someone with a much, much bigger need for it than I had.

I blamed writing, and I had a hard time working for a while.

What does this look like for you? What past hurts are there that still need to be dealt with? Do you feel bitter about writing? Angry toward it? 

TODAY'S CHALLENGE: Forgiveness is this amazing thing. It's a debt canceler. It means that you take something that you feel like you are owed, and you decide to tear it up.

You're no longer going to demand payment. You aren't going to bring it up anymore. Not even through little snide references, or allusions, or teasing. 

It's the end of the debt. Period.

You're starting a new chapter now.

Write out a statement of forgiveness for writing. Cancel all the debts.

Forgive it for all the times when it was inexplicable, when you felt like it left you, when you didn't understand it and you blamed it for that.

And then write out how it forgives you, for the times when you shrugged it off, when you didn't take it seriously, when you gave up on it, when you weren't as committed as you could have been. 

Sometimes, we need to re-forgive, and that's totally okay. But really sit with this today, and practice letting go all the hurts you have around writing. Let 'em all go.

There are better times ahead.


February 3: Let's change our language.

One way our expectations and bitterness leak out of us is in our spoken words. In how we talk. 

Today, all I want us to do is to focus on our language. On how we talk about writing. What we say about it behind its back. How we talk about it to other people. 

What we say about our progress (or lack of it) on drafts. How we refer to past projects, past revisions, future prospects.

TODAY'S CHALLENGE: Let's give ourselves a language makeover. Let's watch how we talk about writing, how we talk to writing, how we talk about our works-in-progress.

Practice being super aware of the tone of voice you use. Catch yourself before you roll your eyes.

Instead, let's talk about our writing in a really constructive way. Even if it's just what we say, to ourselves, in our own heads. (Writing can hear all that, you know.) 

Fill your head, your writing desk, your speech, with really constructive words. With accepting language.

Try to talk to and about writing as if you're talking about someone you really, really love. Even if they're being difficult right now. Even if they're really hard to figure out. 

Let's replace "Oh my gosh I HATE this and it's KILLING me" with "This is really difficult, and it's a big challenge, but I'm here, and we are going to figure it out, somehow."


And there you go!! By all means, let me know how it goes in the comments. Here's to releasing the negativity around our writing lives, so that we can love them more than ever.

... And if this has been valuable or exciting for you, spread the word!! Let's transform as many writing lives as possible this February!


Ready for the next batch of prompts? Click here!