Living in the Write Now: A 30 Day Writing Challenge

Image via Tumblr

Image via Tumblr

Today, I started a 30 days of journaling challenge!! Something that has been done a hundred times, but never by me. I have attempted writing every day in the past, a la the route of Julia Cameron’s morning pages. The idea behind her morning pages is to increase creativity by becoming unblocked through writing. She swears by writing three pages first thing in the morning, by hand, without stopping, editing, or re-reading the pages. I really liked doing morning pages before but have had a hard time making it a habit. Hence doing a visible 30 day challenge to keep myself accountable. I am already cheating because I made two modifications. I wrote with my computer and I wrote in the afternoon. Busted! But as Cameron says “there is no right or wrong way to do morning pages.” (I think she was referring to the content, but I am a rule breaker baby!)

To get started, I cleared my desk space because I feel most relaxed and focused in a clutterless environment. I found a fun playlist on Spotify called Massive Writing Playlist courtesy of Jordan Harper, a person I have never met but could very well have passed in the streets. I set a timer for 30 minutes and started typing away.

Oh dear. You’ve caught me in a lie. I was typing, but I was so aware of how much time was left. I felt like I writing nonsense. I kept thinking about how I wasn’t supposed to judge what I was writing , but it made me feel even more aware of my judgement. I was annoyed that I kept writing “I went to the grocery store today” and “I’m writing”. I kept automatically hitting the backspace when I made a spelling error, which is probably one of the reasons Cameron says to write by hand. Tomorrow, I will switch to a physical journal. I also was distracted by the smell of pee (I’m dog sitting, and this cute but devious little mofo peed inside). To be completely honest, I paused the clock at one point. I had to put some perfume under my nose because the smell of dog pee was so distracting. I am going to become even more raw and vulnerable and say that I paused the clock a second time when the perfume was not working and I decided to light a candle called “Caribbean Market.” Talk about travelling with your nose.


When the timer rang, I had a little over two pages of stream of consciousness writing. I had expected to feel mentally relaxed, like after a good workout. I didn’t. I felt uneasy afterwards because I was being so judgemental of my writing. This is a really common reason people stop. Sometimes the fantasy of writing feels more rewarding than the actual act. I hate the irritated feeling of not liking something I am working on. I have had this feeling so many times and am learning to accept it as part of the process. I’m seeing words as steps. The more words I write,, the closer I am to getting somwhere. Like running into Jordan Harper.


Follow Up

My self-imposed 30-day writing challenge is over! It’s been over for a while actually, two months and some change if you really want to know what a procrastinator I am. Overall, the challenge went “not bad.” I didn’t create set times of when I would sit down and write which made it feel kind of like a chore because it was always weighing on me that at some point during the day I needed to get it done. In the future, I would set aside a regular time actually build it into my day. The whole point of this challenge was to clear some head space and feel a little more creative. I did feel good allowing myself to write without judgment. It was not always easy to let go of judgment. Especially on the days when I felt like I was just writing about really boring stream of consciousness things. But I like to think that I had to do that in order to declutter my mind and get to the good stuff. It’s especially a great way to get out of feeling stuck.

I think this challenge would also benefit anyone who wants to get in the habit of writing daily. The key is just to have in be routine so it becomes a habit. 

Tips for this challenge in the future

  1. Create a time to sit down and write, preferably in the morning or right before bed
  2. No electronics! Don’t even type on a computer
  3. Write in a Relaxing Space
  4. Write Whatever comes to mind, suspend any judgments
  5. Tell yourself “way to go girlfran” for taking positive steps in your creative life

- Bethanie John 


IRO