“Just writing” – How a summer of writing is teaching me to do life better

This is one of a series of posts for my writing challenge, Minutes to a Better Book. You can read more about the challenge, and see all related posts here.  


 

 

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I Wrote an average of 2.5-3 hours a day, for ten days…

I’ve reached the 30-hour milestone for writing my books. I’m happy with the results:

  • An almost-finished manuscript of The Witch’s Uprising (TWU)
  • A longer manuscript than expected
  • Meaningful changes to character arcs and conflict
  • A completely posted Part One of TWU on Wattpad – You can read it here.
  • Rankings on Wattpad going up: 

    Instagram: @CurtisWritesBooks
    One of my Instagram stories. @CurtisWritesBooks

Other Results:

  • I was able to work through some writer’s apprehension I’d been having over the last few months.
  • My mental health is better, and I’m starting to balance my life. This was the biggest success.

(There are, of course, always more details. You can check out my public posts on Patreon if you interested.  All public posts are available here. )


Just Doing vs. Meeting Quotas: What writing without a word count made me realize…

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Why does it feel so easy to write, all of a sudden? Maybe it’s because I have more time this summer than usual, but the very task of writing feels so different when I sit down to do it.

The real answer?

Between work obligations and commitments to friends and family, it had been hard to find time to create, and when I found the time, I didn’t write well.

I was out of balance. I touched on this briefly in my last post.

My time is balanced now, and when I sit down to write, I’m just writing and enjoying writing. It reminds me of a Zen Buddhist idea of being fully present while “just doing” something.

On that note, I stopped using word counts.

Writing without them has helped me be more creative. For example, I focused last week’s time on crafting scenes, and I wasn’t worried about reaching a quota of words. My characters came to life instead of robotically moving through their conflicts.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been a fan of using word counts in the past, and why not? Word counts are useful. It’s nice to set a challenge. It’s nice to do a writing sprint every once in a while, but any method can become a crutch. The act of writing was no longer fun when I was just aiming at a particular goal.

I learned a valuable lesson this summer. By taking care of myself, my commitments, and my time, I was better able to enjoy writing – just writing. Setting aside blocks, without any arbitrary word count or quota to meet. Just writing for however long I can.

An hour. Two hours. Three if I have them.

I know I won’t have this much time forever. In fact, in a month and a half, my work-life balance will tip towards work. But after this summer, I won’t forget what I just learned:

-Make time for writing that doesn’t intrude on valuable family time and social commitments.

-Taking care of your mental health.

-Just write… Just write and enjoy writing. 

Before this summer, time was scarce, but more specifically, my imbalance negatively impacted the quality of my time. I was putting goals on a pedestal, and while goals are fine, experience has taught me that putting goals before balance leads to burnout.

Balance is important. This whole process makes me want to do a better job balancing my life…  I mean, who would want to miss a morning of this:

 

I hope you find a routine that works for you, and that you find a way to “just do” too.

Be well.

-Curtis


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Monday Recap – Last Week’s Wins

I’m smiling.  It was a productive week and a restful weekend. Here’s a recap of last week’s wins:

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Monday Recap – Last Week’s Wins

Home & Writing Books

I spent time with my fiancé, attended a student play and worked 5 hours closer to my 300-hour goal for writing my novels. This puts me at the 300-minute mark, which means I’ve hit the first level (copper) of the Minutes To A Better Book challenge.

Paper Palaces, Posting, and Site Changes

For the last few weeks, I’ve experimented with posting every day. While I see more visitors on this site, I want to make sure that the content makes sense for you. I created a poll for followers so you can give me feedback on how many posts I should do per week.  

I have also created a few new pages and changed up the top menu. They are getting a few hits from outside of WordPress, which is always nice.

Quick Links – New pages:

Let me know what you think! Like a page or two, if you want.


A Mock Schedule

I really enjoy posting every day. I feel like I don’t have to fit in all my thoughts into two or three posts. I can spread them out. I have tried to come up with a few structures for posting. Still, I’m taking a break from posting this week to focus on some other things.

Here is a rough and loose  idea of what content may come if I post every day:

SundaysFeedback! Polls (To stay open throughout the week) (Here is this week’s poll. Please vote!)

Mondays 

  • Last Week’s Wins –  a recap of the last week & a look at the current week 

Tuesdays 

Wednesdays 

Thursdays 

Fridays 

Saturdays 

If I don’t post every day, I would like to try creating two or three posts that combine the elements from above.  


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Noteworthy Posts from Last Week:

If you didn’t get a chance to see these, check them out!


What do you do on your own blog or site? Do you have a set schedule or preferences?

-Curtis

Like it_ (1)Instagram: @CurtisWritesBooks

Facebook: /curtisteichertbooks

Patreon: /CurtisWritesBooks

Twitter: @staghorncrown

WordPress: PaperPalacesBlog.com

7 Lessons I Learned From Hosting My First 7-Day Challenge, and What I’m Doing Next . . .

Today marks the end of the 7-Day Reading Challenge.

At least, it marked an end to the official days. . . Here’s what I learned from hosting a 7-Day Challenge over Twitter, Instagram, and WordPress, and what I plan on doing next.

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Seven Days of Challenging Myself

I spent the last seven days of my life reading for 20 minutes a day and posting to Instagram, Twitter, and WordPress about my reading experience. This was an attempt to start building a stronger reading habit while connecting with others about the joy of reading. You can read about the challenge here.

I thought that building the reading habit would be the hardest part. It was not.

The most difficult element of the challenge was keeping up with a consistent posting schedule across the three mediums. The process taught me so much.

Here’s what I learned:

Lesson # 1: Hosting a challenge is fun, even with a small number of people.

As of writing this post, the Instagram hashtag garnered about 26 public posts. This is a relatively small number considering what is possible during a challenge. However, this made no difference in terms of how fun the challenge was.

Some people are still continuing the challenge, and that’s unbelievably cool. Others are just starting, like this user, @blackbird_reads, who is creating a story highlight for the challenge.

I had the opportunity to connect with people I didn’t know, inside and outside of the challenge, simply because we were consistently reading and posting about our reading experience.

Lesson # 2: Social pressure helps me accomplish tasks.

Hosting the challenge gave it an extra edge, as I had the opportunity to see the process grow. I was pushed by social pressure to make sure I completed my 20 minutes of reading a day. Social pressure also encouraged me to post daily on WordPress and Instagram – a habit that I would like to continue whenever possible.

Lesson # 3: I can easily let social media consume me.

On Wednesday and Thursday, I found myself checking Instagram far too much, and I needed to check in with myself about how much social media time was healthy. I know I may sound old saying this, but there definitely is a limit to how much Instagram a person should consume before it consumes you.

Still, it wasn’t wasted time. Last week I didn’t even know what a theme or aesthetic was for an Instagram feed, and now I’m learning how to post more visually-appealing content.

Lesson # 4: On most days, I wanted to read for more than 20 minutes.

The reading challenge not only pushed me to read for 20 minutes, but it also pushed me to think deeply about my own reading. As a result, I took a longer amount of time to process my reading each day. For that, I am happier.

Lesson # 5: The most meaningful connections were with people over the smallest things.

Whenever someone told me about a new book, project, or ARC, I felt like we were building a small community around reading. I know that Bookstagram and other communities exist for readers, but this felt more personal. Maybe it was the size, or maybe it was the specificity of the challenge.

The smallest conversations somehow felt bigger, like we strangers were reaching across the internet and building bridges.

Lesson # 6: Hosting a challenge keeps you focused on a small set of tasks.

Hosting the challenge kept me focused on these tasks:

  1. Reading every day.
  2. Posting to Instagram every day.
  3. Writing blog posts every day.
  4. Asking questions every day.
  5. Becoming inquisitive about what works and reflecting for a few minutes on new things I could try.

Lesson # 7: Seven days is too short of a time to recruit people to a challenge. Which is why it will remain open . . . forever.

I only promoted the challenge for a week before it started, and I honestly have a very small following of people at this point. This didn’t discourage me when I started the challenge, and it doesn’t discourage me now. In fact, it’s rather encouraging. I’m keeping the hashtag open, and I will post regularly to it, just in case someone else decides to take on the challenge and #readwithcurtis.


What’s Next?

I organized all the 7-Day Reading Posts on a new site page. You can check it out here.

I’m going to post about my reading regularly to the Instagram hashtag #readwithcurtis , and I will update the #readwithcurtis site page when I write articles about specific books.

New Habits to Keep

  1. Reading regularly.
  2. Posting regularly to Paper Palaces.
  3. Posting to Instagram daily.
  4. Connecting with others daily.

I’m sure there will be days when this won’t be possible, but I think setting the intention is important.

A New Challenge

I’m planning a new challenge, just for me. It’s more of an experiment than a challenge. You can follow the experiment via this blog. Of course, you are welcome to join in too!

For the next season, I am going dive into my fiction writing. I will post about it regularly on my Instagram feed as well under the hashtag #MinutesToABetterBook, and I will, of course, create process posts here on WordPress. I want to see how quickly I can get to 18,000 minutes (300 Hours) of time dedicated to just writing fiction, specifically my books. Read more about Minutes to a Better Book here.

I’m would like to complete that writing time by the end of the summer. It will take many early mornings, and probably some late nights, but the story must be told.

-Curtis

Let’s Connect!

Instagram: @CurtisWritesBooks

Facebook: /curtisteichertbooks

Patreon: /CurtisWritesBooks

Twitter: @staghorncrown

WordPress: PaperPalacesBlog.com

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Want to try the 7-Day Reading challenge? Read more about the challenge here.

-Curtis

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