Day 365 – That’s a wrap

Day three hundred sixty-five of my 365 Day Writing Project.

That’s right – Day 365.

Here I am where I began one year ago. When I think about it over the span of 365 days, I realize how far I have come. How different a writer I am at Day 365 compared to Day 1. I owe much of my growth to this project, which was a challenge since the first day. As I have found in other areas of my life, most challenges are worthwhile. This was no exception.

I knew from the outset that a blog devoted to a year-long writing project would be bland or at the very least lacking excitement. It was never about some gimmick to attract an audience or get attention. It was always about my development as a writer and forming life-long writing habits I know are essential to reaching my goals.

It was difficult to put myself out there while doing something that was so important to me. Each blog post was published in a swirl of mixed feelings about sharing my journey publicly. But I knew I needed some accountability to keep focused. Whether or not they were aware of it, my followers kept me on track and I’m grateful for that.

I’m thrilled to say I’ve accomplished what I had hoped for, and beyond. Writing used to be something I did once in a while. It passed through my thoughts as, “Maybe I’ll write about that someday.” But since I developed the discipline to write almost every day over the last year, my daily thoughts about writing are, “I’m going to write about that.” And then I do. Sometimes I write at that moment and other times within a matter of hours. But I write. I learned to take notes every day. I learned to outline ideas. I learned that I don’t have to actually be writing a chapter of my book to be working on and improving my writing. I can write a paragraph, a sentence, a list. As long as my creativity is being exercised, that is all I need to be doing.

Above all else, I learned over the last 365 days that I am a creative soul. I’m not sure I really knew that before. So while this year-long project has come to an end, I’ll still be writing and learning. Most importantly, I’ll be letting my creativity soar.

Writing. It is what I love to do.

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Day 363 – Almost one year

Day three hundred sixty-three of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Wow, I cannot believe I am two days away from one year since this project began. I just returned from vacation – a lovely break from reality, work and family obligations and everyday stresses – during which time I did very little writing. I thought about it a lot, but having afforded myself the opportunity to let go for the first time in many years, I decided to Really. Let. Go. And it was bliss.

Now that I am back I am ready to jump into writing again. I’m quite excited about it, especially since the timing of the end of this project is serendipitous. It is now time to expand my blogging horizons. I am ready to devote this blog to nothing in particular, and everything in theory. With the 365 Day Writing Project about to end, I feel inspired to have the freedom to just write what I want to write. And so I will. Soon.

Day 343 – The importance of the “where” in writing a story

Day three hundred forty-three of my 365 Day Writing Project.

I have been working on my second book (fiction) for a couple of months now and while I am certain about the “who,” the “when” and the “what” in the story, I am completely undecided about the “where.” This is ridiculous to me, since the “who” and the “what” aspects are typically more complex. The “where” should be the easy part. For whatever reason, I keep changing my mind. So far, I have flip-flopped between three different states. And maybe starting in one state and ending in another. Or maybe three or more different states. See what I mean?

My indecision – while in the middle of writing the book – has led me to the profound understanding of how important the “where” actually is. Where the story occurs not only dictates scene background, it also dictates the voices of characters, cultural characteristics, experiences of characters, weather events, climate in general and countless nuances along the entire spectrum of details. As is the case in life, in a piece of writing the “where” touches everything.

To be undecided about location puts the writer in a position of writing sections she knows will need to be changed. Some of the writing thus becomes a string of contingencies. If happening in location A, it will be this. If happening in location B, it will be that. For instance, I wrote a colorful memory from my main character’s childhood that involved sweet grass. In the location I was imagining at that time, it worked. But if I change the location, it will have to be omitted if sweet grass is not indigenous there. This would be a minor change. However, major changes throughout the story might also have to be made.

For instance, a key thread in the plot centers around the protagonist’s ongoing efforts to flee the political and religious views of her upbringing. They are conservative, hard-core Christian views. This works very well in a location such as Alabama, but not as much in a place like Vermont. If a change in location means changing or omitting this thread in the story, well, then I’m changing my whole outline and likely resigned to writing a very different book.

The longer a writer remains in static indecision the more muddled her creative process becomes. Choose the location of your story at the same time you outline the “who,” “when” and “what.” And do your best to stick to it or you’ll end up changing far more than you anticipated.

Trust me, the “where” touches everything.