Challenging myself to write meant writing every day and writing much more than a few poetic lines in my journal every morning. Long ago I read "The Right to Write" by Julia Cameron (http://theartistsway.com/) which introduced me to the idea of three morning pages every day. When I was still teaching I would do this sporadically, when the vacations gave me the time and energy to rise early and write whatever was on my mind or in my heart. I knew instinctively that the practice of "dumping" all of the emotions, problems, fears, and joys onto the page was like purging my mind of the bad stuff and letting me be free to fill the spaces with something new.
About three months ago, I found a website called 750.com. It's a place set up for you to do your morning pages online. You can put in a password to keep everything you write absolutely private, which is a good thing! But the website keeps track of the number of words you write and how long it took you to write and even what the weather was like while you were doing it, as well as some really interesting ways of analyzing what you wrote. But I soon discovered that 750 words (three 250-word pages) was just not challenge enough for me, so I added another 250 every day. Now I'm on a 60 day streak, looking forward to it every morning, and rising at 5:30 a.m. to have peace and quiet to start my day.
While I love typing madly away and seeing the word count rise, I missed the actual pen on paper feel to it! I always love to buy those cute journals and colorful spiral bound books to write in. The color of my pen changes by the season or the mood of the day as well. (Today I'm in a particularly pink mood.) So I was happy when one of my regular blog authors started a "Write for 15 Minutes Every Day in August" Challenge. I said, "This would be a great thing for me to do in my little journals." After I write my 1,000 words online, I go to 'Mad Woman in the Forest' (http://halseanderson.livejournal.com/), read her prompt, and write by hand for 15-30 minutes depending on how engaging the day's prompt is.
Then I said, "As long as I'm doing all this, why not be a glutton for punishment and sign up for the "Book in a Week" Challenge (http://book-in-a-week.com/). On this website you set your own goals and check in each day to report your progress. My initial goal was seven pages a day or 49 for the week. I'm proud to say I ended the week with 73 pages!
The next Book in a Week challenge isn't for another month, so I will just have to keep writing about Georgia and Grace, two southern belle sisters, who discover a dead man in their kitchen. I'll let you know how it turns out!