One week. I have an idea and I think the entire community should try it for one week.

What’s this grand idea?

I’ll get to that in a moment.

First, a few questions . . .

  • Did you kick off the year with too much on your plate?
  • Do you often feel overwhelmed?
  • Not quite where you want to be with the story you want to write?

Maybe now’s the time to pivot.

Not just “I need to do this,” or “I have to do this,” but “I want to do this.”

Reconnect with the “why” that underlies your goals. Do something fun that’s a bit less stress than chasing word count.

It would be simple to say:

  • Set a goal. (Write a novel.)
  • Establish a plan or routine. (Write 85,000 words in 90 days.)
  • Stick to it. (Commit to the productivity cycles outlined in the 85K90 annual calendar.)

Sounds easy, right?

Well, it’s not. Because life happens. Things get in the way. We hit a block or a challenge. Before long, we find our best intentions have fallen short of the lofty goals we set at the beginning of the year.

Can I be frank?

Don’t quit. Recommit.

I have an idea and I think the entire community should try it for one week.

Will it move your manuscript forward by ten thousand or twenty thousand words? Nope.

Will it solve a plot problem? Maybe.

Capture a fleeting, inspired thought about your manuscript? I think so.

What’s this grand idea?

I’ll get to that in a moment.

But first, an assignment.

Become a student of five topics. Five items that are blocking you.

IMAGE: the word "homework" written on a calendar

If you decided to write a novel in 2019, what are the obstacles preventing you from writing?

Make a list. Write them down.

Isolate each item on the list and for the next three days, become a student of that topic. Analyze it. Drill down. Figure out what it is about that particular obstacle that blocks you from achieving your goals.

Is it time? Do you lack discipline? Do you feel you need to be “inspired” to write, and until inspiration knocks on your door, you’re not doing anything? Not producing?

Ask yourself:

  • What do I need to do?
  • What do I have to do?
  • What do I want to do?

If writing is something you need to do, have to do, and want to do, why aren’t you doing it?

If you feel you’re in a rut and you’re not where you want to be, let’s switch gears.

Try something new.

I have an idea and I think the entire community should try it for one week.

Here’s my pitch:

If you’re having trouble reporting to the page, carry the page with you—at all times.

Man holding piece of white paper in his hands.

For one week, for every moment of the day, I challenge the entire 85K90 community to carry a piece of paper with them wherever they go. Tuck it into your pocket, your sock, your shoe—the waistband of your pants if you’re not wearing pockets, socks, or shoes.

Whatever it takes, do it.

Piece of paper. On your body.

And why not? You’re adventurous. You’re a novelist. Adventure is at the heart of what you do.

So spend a week with a piece of paper somewhere on your body. Wear it to work. To school. To the laundry mat. The grocery store. Date night. If you’re going for a run, tuck a piece of paper between the laces of your running shoes. I’m not kidding. I’m 100% serious. One week. Carry a piece of paper on your body somewhere—not in a purse or tote bag. On your body.

Do it.

If the feeling strikes, and you want to write something on that piece of paper—maybe capture a thought or a phrase, a picture. A snippet of dialogue. Some plot points—do it. See what happens. What comes from making a commitment to carry a piece of paper with you wherever you go, might surprise you. You might feel better. Feel silly, but in a good way. Inspired. And it might become your saving grace. You might capture a fleeting moment of inspiration. You might steal a few moments to scrawl some words down. You might enjoy pulling that piece of paper out, simply to create swirling doodles around the edges while you think about your story while eating a sandwich during your lunch hour.

  • Use it to collect adjectives.
  • Use it to explore sensory details.
  • Use it to create a word bank that describes something in your novel.
  • Use it to draw the eyes of the monster, the slender neck of the maiden.
  • Use it to become a student of the five obstacles you listed in this week’s assignment. Use it to drill down and better understand what blocks you.

If you run out of space, get another piece of paper.

But always have a piece of paper ON YOUR BODY. For one week.

It can be small. Tuck it beneath your watchband.

And don’t forget a pen or pencil. You can find a spot for that, too.

Snap the pencil in half if you need to shorten it before tucking it between the laces of your shoes as you head to the gym. If someone asks you why you’ve tucked a golf pencil and a piece of paper beneath your watchband, tell them you’re writing a novel. Tell them it’s something you’ve committed to do in 2019. Tell them it’s something you need to do, have to do, and want to do.

And if you don’t want to tell them? Don’t.

Keep it a secret.

Pull your sleeve down. Tuck the piece of paper somewhere no one knows but you.

One week. See what happens.

And if you’re willing, I’d love to hear how it goes. Talk to me.

Final thoughts.

What do you need to do?
What do you have to do?
What do you want to do?

– Julie

Julie Valerie

Julie Valerie

85K Writing Challenge: Embracing the writing life by advancing the practice of productive writing from the first word to the first reader.

2 thoughts on “One week. I have an idea and I think the entire community should try it for one week.

  1. OK, I took my piece of paper to my yoga class. I think the only inspiration I had was it might be good to give one of my characters terrible back pain 🙂
    Aside from that, I like your suggestion of identifying the obstacles. Good insight to be gained there, I suspect.

    1. I was walking to my car with my piece of paper placed on top of a pile of things I was carrying. Wind blew that sucker right off. Had to set my items down to chase it down the driveway. Who knew we’d endure such difficulties! – Julie

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