21.5.800: i survived 21 days of writing, etc!

Trying to outrun the 21.5.800 challenge...

Today is the final day of Bindu Wiles’ 21.5.800 blog-a-thon. This morning, I wrote my final 800 words. Although this doesn’t feel like the end of something ~ it feels like the beginning.

I’ve been pretty quiet about the whole event, and I haven’t been too active in the #215800 Twittersphere. But I’ve been following the action and working diligently on my writing (daily, 800 words) and meditation (5 times/week, 10 min before bed) practice.

The Writing: I’m pleased to say that I really upheld my commitment to this. I only missed 4 days. I didn’t always write 800 words, sometimes due to time or interruptions. But I’ve ended up with half a notebook filled with reflections, lists, letters, scenes and memories. I stayed with my original commitment to write about my relationship with my brother, and the impact of his recent death. This daily writing practice was the perfect place to channel my sadness and anger and confusion. The notebook is messy and all over the place. I’m kind of scared to read through it. From what I remember, there is no consistent voice, point of view or tense. It alternates between first and third person, past and present tense, memory and fabrication.

Now comes the fun part: I’m going to go through it with a highlighter and coloured pens, and try to find the nugget of the story. I’m going to override my fear. I’m going to start to craft a short story or essay (still haven’t decided what form the story wants to take). I find first drafts to be painful and laborious. The real art is splicing ideas together and playing with language. What I have is approximately 12,000 words, building blocks, raw material to be sculpted and shaped.

The Meditation: This practice wasn’t as successful. I actually haven’t sat at all for about the past week. My attempts were erratic and inconsistent. At times I just completely forgot. I do want to try to persevere with meditation, and this experience has confirmed that I need to seek out a teacher or community. I need support, structure and theory, I think.

The event has been extended for another 10 days, but I’m going to  bow out at this point. I’m tired. I’m kind of glad it’s over. I have a lot of work to do this week, and I’m going on vacation next week. Most of all, I’m excited about digging into that notebook and excavating the gems that have been uprooted.

What I’ve learned from this is a really interesting and effective structure for creativity. I’ve learned how to write without expectation or perfectionism, and to write with the only goal of committing words to a page. I’ve learned how to quiet my editor’s mind and write freely without inhibition. I think this is something I’d do for other projects in the future, to take 21 days for creative exploration and brainstorming, writing a daily quota on a specific topic.

And on a deeper level, for which I don’t even have the words to articulate, healing has taken place, decades of sadness and anger have been reconciled. I felt it happen.

Gratitude to Bindu Wiles and the whole inspiring community (over 500 blogs!) that has sprung up around the 21.5.800 project.

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  1. Amazing entry Roseanne. I might try the writing bit. I need to free up expectations around that, as well, and just get stuff down.

  2. You rock my world, ladyfriend. I, too, want to start a meditation ‘practice’ and am finding it difficult to self-start. Let’s get on it! Incredibly inspired!

  3. Congratulations. Sounds so valuable.
    I love how you are looking at the meditation piece – looking for what structures could support you in making it a regular habit – rather than being judgmental about it not happening. So very sane!
    It’s interesting – how writing is such a marriage of discipline and inspiration. For me, there’s no doubt that inspiration is a key element, some of the time if not all, but without my making a little square sandbox for inspiration to play in, it doesn’t come out. That sandbox is the daily practice, the rules, the schedule, the sitting still while wanting to procrastinate.
    Congrats again on your journey and I wish you lots of richness in the highlighter/sculpting phase!

  4. Yay you!
    I just signed up for the ten day extension, because I missed the beginning of this, and was really quite worried about the 800 word thing. So far, so good though. It’s not as hard as it seems, with a little application of discipline. I wonder if blog comments count?

  5. congrats, love! not an easy feat to accomplish! 🙂

  6. Congrats on making it through your challenge. It sounds like you got a lot of valuable material on both sides of the challenge, so it was productive. Enjoy your essay/short-story writing!

    On the meditation side, I started using some of John Kabat-Zinn’s CD’s and that really helped me along. Hope you find a path there!

  7. Congratulations lady! For getting through the challenge and for being brave enough to write this blog post. Hug+kisses!

  8. You are an inspiration, Roseanne! Congratulations!

  9. Congrats! Writing every day is not easy, and it’s awesome you kept it up. I’m on the same page with you on meditation. My home practice slips away without the weekly reminder of a group class, but I’m glad you’re committed to persevering!