Whenever someone joins this Writer’s March, I ask for an exercise that they’d like to
share. This year, several responses had less to do about one-time things and more about the daily writing people do to help form good habits. Reading these changed the way I think about exercises. I always thought they something you did when you were stuck or wanting to get started, something that changed every time. I hadn’t considered the way we could turn the exercise into something that “unsticks” us on a daily basis.
This morning, as we ate breakfast, Randi told me about how habits are formed. I’ve written about this before, but I hadn’t thought of how those habits are related to the processes of our brains. As Randi explained, rather than thinking about the left and right sides of the brain, think instead of the front and back. The front of the brain processes information that is new. That new information, if repeated often enough (30 days, ahem!), moves to the back of the brain to form habits. Once things are habits, they become easier to do because we no longer have to think about doing them. On Sunday, she’ll offer more insight on this (specifically on how to break the bad habits), so I don’t want to give it all away, but here on Day 3, I thought it would be cool to see the habits that are already in place. These are things the rest of us might steal either for the entirety of March or just for the day:
XXXX has an “exercise” she completes every day:
This isn’t a writing exercise but rather a journal-writing challenge for the year. Every day, I’ve been writing a paragraph called “Headlines” (news of the day, ugh), one called “Natural” (observations of the natural world), and “Personal” (moi!). My intention in writing these paragraphs is to stay aware of the world around and within me.
Chris Strickling’s “exercise” is a weekly affair:
I do a 500 word piece every week that attempts to capture and fully convey an experience, a moment in time, a need, an offering. I have 8 of them now, hoping to compile them into a book-length project of 365. I call them “the 500s.” I love writing these because the brevity puts a lot of pressure on the text and that makes me cut right to the core of what it is that I am trying to say.
Finally, I thought I would also offer up my own. And just for consistency sake, let’s make it in quotes!
Last year, I tried, for the first time, a 100 day challenge. Much like Writer’s March, but
longer and more involved. It was exhausting at times, but I made myself one promise: no matter how I was feeling or what the day was like, I would sit with my book for as long as I could. Sometimes, that “long as I could” was only 5 minutes. Other times, it was several hours. By the end of the 100 days, it was the 5 minute times that felt most important – they taught me that there was always time, even if just a little.
I’d love to hear what other things you folks do. Leave a comment below, if you like!