Congratulations to Patricia Moyer for Winning the December 2015 Barefoot Writing Challenge! (Your $100 prize is on its way!)
The Challenge was to write an essay that answered this question:
Tell us about one thing you did this year or one step you took toward making your Barefoot Writing dream a reality. And if you’re already seeing payoff, tell us about that, too!
Patricia shared a fresh take on a writing habit all writers are encouraged to develop. Even better, she told us about the unexpected benefits she’s received since starting this process. Enjoy her winning submission:
A New Spin on a Daily Writing Habit
Stephen King said in his book On Writing, “ … to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”
Reading is not difficult for me. But writing can be. Unlike reading someone else’s polished copy, writing involves the messy, creative struggle to say something others find valuable. Reading may be 50% of King’s formula for being a writer but it’s a little unbalanced. Writing is far more important, time-consuming, exhausting, and it is … well, it’s just harder.
And, like many writers and artists, I struggle with self-doubt with such thoughts as: Do I have what it takes? Are my skills good enough? Do I have enough experience and samples?
So, about a year ago, I gave myself the challenge to write every day.
And, like most challenges, it was easier to say than to actually do.
Quickly, I learned not to worry about how many words a day were important or how much time to spend. With all due respect to Stephen King’s 2,000 words a day habit, I found time and word counts too limiting.
I also don’t define what constitutes “writing.” I have dictated ideas, sentences, paragraphs, and pages into my voice mail when traveling. I sometimes just caption a great photograph or actually craft the greeting when sending a card. It was slow at first and, of course, life’s distractions made it difficult to keep to a daily writing goal. But writing most days and forgiving the few failures kept me on task.
So, what has my daily writing goal accomplished? Every day I write is one more day of relevant, marketable experience. I’ve gained confidence as I finish client assignments, spec pieces, articles, and even homework from various writing courses.
It also has given me a fairly dense portfolio of diverse, eloquent writing samples.
Writing every day has also changed my internal conversation. I’ve become more positive and confident. I find that daily writing practice is just like regularly doing push-ups. You just can’t help but get stronger.
When I started, I didn’t have enough clients to fill a daily writing habit. So I had to dig for ideas. Without too much trouble, I realized there are writing prompts everywhere. Just the interview questions in each issue of Barefoot Writer are fantastic prompts for a writing journal. The contest question is also an obvious writing exercise. I rewrite small news stories, answer blog posts, describe my daughter’s soccer game, and sometimes I just freewrite.
And now I can say that this year I have more clients and have made more money than last year. Am I living my Barefoot Writer’s life fully? Not yet. But I can see the way to get there much clearer. Until then, I’ll just keep writing. Every day.