A year in writing

In an unusual departure for this blog, this post is about writing, not reading. You see, it is exactly a year since I started trying to write something every day. Wanting to get back into writing regularly and inspired by NaNoWriMo, I made the resolution last Halloween to try and write something every day in November. I achieved that (with certain allowances for what ‘writing something’ entailed, which I’ll talk about later) and kept going. Each day I noted down what I had written, whether one thing or more. Now, a year later, I can look back and see that I missed 20 days out of the year. I don’t think that’s too bad.

What trying to write something every day has taught me, shared for mostly gratuitous reasons:

  1. Give yourself leeway. Writing is hard. Making yourself write regularly is even harder. In my category ‘writing something’, I included fiction, non-fiction, poetry, letters to friends, job application statements, and the online shop listings I wrote for Oxfam. Partly, this was because at the start I needed to be able to only do one writing thing—a blog post, or going to my volunteering at Oxfam—in a day and still feel I had achieved something. Also, life gets in the way and it is good to think that any number of words is still progress. It means a bullet point in my notebook (so a ‘piece’ of writing) can be a few lines of poetry, or 4000 words of fiction. That doesn’t matter.
  2. Structure is not for some people, but is for me. Any ‘you should write every day’ advice is not helpful. It entirely depends on how you write, what you write, and what you do with your life. It worked for me because once I had settled into the routine, it just felt like something that had to be done each day, even if it meant I just wrote some bad poetry at 10 p.m. (as could be the case when I’d been at work all day).
  3. Not just fiction. I was massively helped in my endeavour by the fact I review proof copies of books via NetGalley. This means that for over half the books I’ve read this (calendar) year, I’ve written a review of them too. That’s a lot of pieces of writing to get under my belt with little creative effort. I also wrote something for Shakespeare & Punk and a number of non-review blog posts on here. This leads me on to my next point.
  4. Variety is good. I’ve done NaNoWriMo (twice). Whilst doing it, I was also writing essays as an undergrad English student. That variety was probably necessary. I could not have written so much this year without having a range of things to write: whenever I felt unable to write one kind of thing, I tried something else.
  5. You never know where it’ll end up. A year ago, I had a sporadically-used book blog and a dream of writing things I wouldn’t just post online. Now, I have a regularly-updated book blog and a published poem (watch this space/my Twitter for further updates on this topic, in fact). Every step, however small, counts.