writing challenge reflections

Today marks the end of my 14-day writing challenge (though this post might not actually end up making it online until day 15, since it’s currently storming and the internet and things don't like that too much), and I can honestly say that working through these two weeks of writing definitely was a challenge, but it was also incredibly growing from a creative standpoint as well, which I’m thankful for. I originally decided to start this project because my creative reserves were basically empty, and I had recently had a good conversation revolving around the idea that sometimes simply stoking the fire of whatever you might be struggling with might be exactly what you need. So, instead of taking some time to think and brainstorm for creative purposes, I chose to force myself to write something, anything, for two weeks instead, to see what I could come up with, and it was surprisingly effective.  

Over the course of the 14 days, I found myself writing in a couple different genres and styles, which was stretching and growing from a literary standpoint, but I also found myself enjoying some of those styles more than I thought I would, especially given my previous experience and history with styles like poetry. Prior to performing this experiment, I always would’ve told myself that I wasn’t a poet and that I’d probably never write poetry, but my perspectives have begun shifting ever since I forced myself to write even when I wasn’t feeling like it. I think something about that internal pressure caused some of my ideas to seep out in forms they wouldn’t otherwise would’ve taken. At the same, I justified dabbling in poetry because poems could be shorter and maybe wouldn’t take as long as writing a longer piece of prose, but I ended up spending roughly the same amount of time composing the various lines and stanzas of my poems, polishing them until they conveyed precisely the messages I was aiming for. By the time I more or less ended my poetry phase of this writing challenge (though I will doubtlessly return to writing poetry, since I’ve discovered I actually really enjoy it now that some of my own psychological inhibitions towards it have been cleared), one of my friends pointed me to a quote saying that poets are poets because they enjoy the interplay between words, not necessarily because they think they have good things to say or because they’re exceptionally good at it, and I found that to be true while I was writing poetry. I definitely didn’t think I was a poet, adding that very line as a disclaimer to some of the pieces I published here, but I did take a certain pleasure in seeing how I could get the words to play off each other and how they sounded to the ear, and in the end, I suppose I did become an amateur poet through that, something I never would’ve discovered if I hadn’t taken part in this challenge to myself.

 

Beyond that, it’s been so rewarding to see where inspiration comes from for all the various pieces that I’ve written under the time constraints that come with trying to get myself to put out a quality or semi-quality piece of work every single day for a specified period of time. I think part of that comes from being able to prove to myself that I actually can write something, and write something good in a short period of time if I’ll actually be dedicated enough to finish it.

 

Finally, I would say that this challenge accomplished the one goal I set for myself when I first conceived of it: causing me to actually like writing again. In the weeks leading up to my creative dry spell and my decision to force myself to write no matter what, the mere act of writing had started to feel like a chore and I was dreading sitting down at my computer or with my notebook more than I should. Though I would still call myself a writer, I could hardly discipline myself enough to take the time to actually write something.

 

The first couple days of the challenge were brutal, because I still felt like I was dragging my heels through the metaphorical idealess swamp, but by the halfway point in the challenge, I was beginning to have more ideas than I had time or energy to write about, something that hasn’t happened in quite some time. More than anything, I rediscovered what it feels like to enjoy sitting down to write and to take satisfaction in creating a string of words that communicated an idea the way I wanted it to. And now that I’m at the end of this challenge, I think I finally like writing again.

 

At this point, I’m sort of just rambling, because there’s so much more I want to say about this writing challenge, ideas I could convey more eloquently if I had time, but it’s currently 9:41pm and I have to wake up at 4:30am in order to get to the airport, so I suppose this will have to suffice for now. Time is never really on a writer’s side it seems.

 

I’ll hopefully have some time tomorrow to reflect more on this writing challenge and/or perhaps write another nonfiction piece I was planning to write, but for now, I suppose I would just say that sometimes pushing through the creative blocks and the hard spots really is the best way to get back on your feet. I felt like I had nothing left to write, nothing left to give when I started this challenge, and now I’m reinvigorated with, at the very least, enough creative energy to keep me going for the near future *cue infomercial testimonial music*.

 

Funny side note: this piece is probably one of the least polished I’ve ever written; it’s basically stream of consciousness, but that’s sort of cool in a way. This piece is the written equivalent of a YouTube video, so if you ever wondered what it would be like for me to make one of those, it would probably sound a little like this post, haha.