Many of you challenge yourselves with long-term blog projects, from daily urban sketches to a weekly short story series. As we say goodbye to 2015, let’s look at how a sketcher, a poet, a short story writer, and an essayist have met their daily and weekly goals.
Olena Bodnarchuk: a sketch a day
Olena Bodnarchuk is a sketcher from Ukraine and is currently studying graphic design in Germany.
My sketch-a-day project was a spontaneous idea that felt so good and inspiring that I couldn’t ignore it. A passenger on a train saw me sketching and asked, “You’re making one drawing a day, aren’t you?” The next moment, I knew what I’d be managing in the next 365 days.
I get my inspiration from daily life. I notice beauty in ordinary situations and watch people on buses or on the subway. At any moment, I can take out a sketchbook and start creating. And you don’t need special conditions to be an urban sketcher! (Although it’s good to be really mobile.)
It’s easy to keep myself on track because sketching brings me so much joy. What I love about this habit is that quantity becomes quality. It feels like a tiny step I make each day, which then leads to my development in the long term.
Yi-Ching Lin: 3 bite-sized posts a day
Yi-Ching Lin is a writer, poet, and photographer in New York City.
What do escaping a party, vacuuming on the holidays, taking on daylight saving time, and realizing you’ve run out of toilet paper on Monday morning all have in common?
It happens to all of us.
Writing is a good kind of stressful. Every morning, I wake up, and writing hangs over my head as I make breakfast and sit down to write. I am constantly three posts away from heading out the door — one photo, a list of five randomly selected words, and a piece of writing. While the first two arrive more easily, it’s the third that can keep me stuck to my chair. In fact, it’s sometimes the photo and the threewordsaday that help to get the juices flowing. You can call them my “tricks.”
The other “trick” to writing and posting daily is observation. Imagine collecting all the little things that happen in a day and binding them together as a coloring book, so when you sit down, you can flip open a page in your mind and color it in. Inspiration becomes turnkey.
Writer’s block is a real fake thing. It immobilizes, but doesn’t have to paralyze. Some words are just slower to come.
I write because Writing is a box under the category Creativity under the list Happiness that I have the luxury of checking off every morning. For nearly six years, I committed to writing and posting daily because on the days I didn’t write, I felt an itch of discontentment, and sooner or later, I realized it was because I hadn’t created something.
Writing with readers is better than writing without readers. To be honest, after I’ve checked the Writing box, I’m good to go — literally and spiritually. But, it’s the readers who somehow magically keep me connected. They are neither my motivation nor my inspiration, but they breathe new life into the words, and for that, I am enlightened and grateful.
I try to catch and respond to every comment. I don’t stress about “capturing the momentum” on well-read days, only about writing daily and appreciating those who take the time to comment.
Finally, writer’s block is a real fake thing. It immobilizes, but doesn’t have to paralyze. Some words are just slower to come. I write other words for the time being.
Andy Townend: a story every Thursday
Andy Townend, a blogger with a love of photography, writing, and poetry, is currently living in Brussels.
I created andytownend.com as a third space to experiment with writing and photography. I’m fascinated by the craft but considered creative writing a bridge too far. Encouraged by friends on WordPress.com, I signed up for Blogging U.’s Writing 201: Poetry, and subsequently, Writing 101. The camaraderie, engendered by the course organizers and my fellow participants, inspired me to let go and just write.
I set myself a tough challenge: I would write a serial story, dark | side | thursday. Each Thursday, I publish a new episode of exactly 500 words, accompanied by one of my photographs. The story is dark. It allows me to shine a light on some challenging issues to see a different perspective. I’m more than halfway through a 52-week writing project that I kicked off in May. It’s a liberating and inspiring experience.
While I’m using great writing tools to help me organize, plot, and collate my ideas, each new episode is often “shot from the hip,” a little like my photographic style. The characters, and the world in which they live, are fictitious, although I often hold a mirror up to real events, recent and from the past, when describing a place or emotion.
The story’s not over.
Michelle Ardillo: an essay a week
Michelle Blanchard Ardillo is a writer, Louisiana native, and language arts teacher in Washington, DC.
“Cajun Girl in a Kilt” is a nickname my husband gave me, born of my unique blend of personality traits stemming from having a Cajun dad and a Scottish mom. My site came about because in spite of wanting to be a writer, I had no idea how to actually become one. Even as a little girl I dreamed of being a writer, asking Santa for a typewriter one year. For 20 years I wrote legal documents, mostly lease agreements for tenants of shopping centers and malls, but the impetus for my “essay a week for one year” project came from a career change and eight years of teaching literature and writing to middle school students, making me want to focus on my own creative writing. A self-imposed deadline of midnight on Sunday was enough to awaken my competitive spirit, and I am proud to say that even during the most trying times of my father’s illness and death, I never missed a week.
A self-imposed deadline of midnight on Sunday was enough to awaken my competitive spirit . . .
Many of my essays focus on the culture, food, faith, and people of my Louisiana upbringing, but I also write about some of my lifelong obsessions like reading, the performing arts, and the British Royal Family, as well as more recent obsessions like making jam and poetry. My cast of characters includes my husband, two daughters, and my dog Puccini, but for inspiration I sometimes draw upon my most widely available resource: the developing minds and personalities of the pre-teens and teenagers I teach.
Do you plan to experiment with any projects in 2016?