Okay, since Mr. Goins has not delivered the writing challenge prompt for today, allow me to step in.
But first a word from our unnamed [but still gathering data on your browsing tendencies] sponsor…
Have you noticed that the only difference between ‘donut’ and ‘don’t’ is ‘u’?
And now back to our regularly-scheduled programming…
- Write about the time when you wanted to take over a class you were attending. Yes, include the parts about laying siege to the administration building. And when you planned to change your grade in the class you were failing. And the grades of anyone else who was willing to pony up for your newfound side hustle.
- Speaking of side hustles, write about a side hustle you would like to try. Yes, include the start-up costs, including the condo on Maui, the Lear Jet, and your sales conferences in Aruba.
- Write about the dossier you collected on your neighbors. No, not the slimy, distasteful stuff [that’s for a whole different writing challenge], but the ‘what they do that you should be doing but will never get around to doing, like painting their house during this millennium, and thus you hate them for making you look like a slothful parasite. Yeah, that kind of dossier.
- Write about the stuff you immediately look at when you enter a thrift store. [Some of you might need to first fess up that you even visit them.]
- Describe your ideal writing setting. Include the aromas Fresh-brewed coffee? Sea mist from nearby crashing waves? Both of those simultaneously? [Yeah! Way to dream!], the needed ambient noise, your essential writing tools [blender and recliner included].
- Tell about how you will celebrate the completion of the January writing challenge. Feel free to include climbing the steps of a local civic building, turning, jogging in place, and raising your arms in victory. [Just don’t tell Sly Stallone.]
- Share some predictions of the aftermath of the January writing challenge. Maybe your description of the ideal writing setting will send you on a shopping spree. Perhaps your discussion of the side hustle will lead to a few phone calls with off-shore realtors. It could be as simple as a new set of pens. [For me, it’s one of those multi-packs of Flair pens, which guarantee a result from the inspired scrawl sessions in the pitch black of 3:00 AM. I don’t care if these brainstorms are in hot pink, I just want them recorded.]
- Write a tribute to your writing life cheerleaders. Detail their qualities and those special moments when they lifted you up or drilled you with a solid dose of reality or treated you to a bacon breakfast burrito to launch you on your next project. [Yes, I know, ‘bacon breakfast burrito’ is getting pretty specific, but I want you to home in on their specialness.]
- Make a list of ten products or services you wished existed for writers [or for folks with other avocations, life circumstances, or community service obligations]. Come on, stretch that thinking and have fun. Seriously, don’t you think all of us writers—in the midst of an inspirational surge— need an on-call personal assistant to cook the arroz con pollo, toothbrush that annoying tile grit in the shower, and give Barkley his afternoon romp? [For me, it would be an editor of my first-draft tirades and a typist of the acres of material from my notebooks. Oh! And someone with discretion and taste to sift through that stuff once it is typed up. I haven’t yet come up with a title for that poor shlub.]
- Okay, so I’ve covered for Mr. Goins. If you haven’t already started your Jan. 27 challenge, there you go!
As for me, I just finished mine. [I hate ‘smug’, don’t you?]
Today’s 500-word topic: List your fears.
So I fear that I’m not going to finish this January 500 word challenge.
I fear that I won’t finish the projects I’ve started and that Jon Acuff will send out his procrastination police to drag me in front of a vicious, closed minded tribunal that will throw me into a dank, dark motel room on the outskirts of Bumwiddle, Wisconsin in the middle of winter and force me to finish all my started projects.
I fear that the entire state of Wisconsin will turn against me because I happened to choose their fine, cheese-laden state as the locale of my fictional town, as if to suggest that it represents the hickest, most outlying place in the universe, which isn’t at all true.
I fear that they won’t believe that I actually used a random number generator to determine the number of the state I would choose.
I fear that I will never get to eat cheese again because of my unfortunate choice of that fine state.
I fear that I’m running off the road, in a writerly sense.
I fear that I will never get around to watch Tim Ferriss’s TED talk on fear setting.
I fear that, because I’m not Scandinavian, I will never get around to Swedish death cleaning.
I fear that I’ll never make it to the rescue shelter and give another dog a chance at a life of no training, regular meals and walks and car trips, comfortable naps on the bed, and lots of love.
I fear that I won’t talk myself into buying that MacBook that I ceaselessly pine for in 84.6% of my posted writing.
I fear that anyone who reads this will lock in on the cheap, tawdry word-count-cheating tactic of repeating the words, “I fear that…”
In my attempt to nail that exact quote from the dad character about Swedish death cleaning and decluttering in general, I fear that last week’s episode of The Middle will never come up on another screen in Chrome. I fear that I’ll be watching these buffering dots
on ABC’s website for the rest of my life.
I feared that I would never climb out of the suffocating Internet rabbit hole/search for the above-mentioned quote.
I used a handful of kettle corn to snap me out of it.
So I fear that I will rely too heavily on kettle corn to solve [or salve] any future bouts with the Internet’s multitude of distractions.
I fear that you will all find out that I am listening to Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass while writing this. [Something magical about instrumental music and cranking out meaningless prose.]
I fear that I now have less than ten words to, as slave driver Jeff Goins, the evil mastermind behind this 15,500 word challenge, suggests: “do something with this fear.”
I fear that my math might be off.
I fear that Professor Goins may not accept ‘fear spewing’ as a productive first step in my attempt to “do something with this fear.”
Seems I’m getting a little text-fatigued lately.
At least that’s my piddly excuse for engaging in a short detour into the world of semi-useful graphics.
I figured creating these mailing labels for a colleague’s upcoming birthday was just the ticket. Jon Acuff, in his book Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done, which, no, I still haven’t finished, would label this little departure from more important projects, a ‘noble objective’.
[It just hit me…this post isn’t exactly a solid endorsement for his book, is it?]
Then again, it may just be a plaintive cry for help from someone who just can’t [or doesn’t want to] stay focused, because this book really is the real deal. It’s like he knows me. [I take that back. If he really knew me, he’d probably shake his head and see me as a lost cause.] Whatever the case, I like the book and I am learning, if not immediately applying, a lot.
You’re not just a writer of novels or blog posts or weekly columns.
You are a listener. You’re a storyteller. You condense thoughts. You cut through blather and deliver a message. You’re a narrator. You ask the right questions. You catch details most people glide right past.
There is a need for you and your talents.
This chapter is killing me!
A whine emanates from the other room. He knows…
A little he-and-I time wouldn’t hurt.
A deadly whimper-whine combination.
Stop right there! You know deep down once you leave that keyboard, there’s little chance you’re coming back, not even to turn things off.
Aim for a quick win, or at least a compromise. Set the timer for 20 minutes. You power through till the buzzer goes off and then Droopy-Eyed Ralph can get his walk.
Other anti-distraction tips:
…and for those with family members who can’t read ‘Do Not Disturb’ signs and who claim to not understand clearly-stated boundaries: http://www.diyauthor.com/distraction-working-home-when-you-have-pets/ .
Though there is something to be said for an occasional mindfulness minute or stretch break. [Not a bad idea, however, to warn others of your upcoming ‘private time’. They’ll thank you for that.]
Loved ones will block your progress.
Stand your ground.
Let them know that your work comes first and that guilt trips are counterproductive.
Then go ahead, drop everything, and yield to their every demand.
Find a new audience today for your latest chapter.
Yes, your border collie will do just fine.
Take note of when he:
- cocks his head [your protagonist’s actions strayed too far from her core character]
- lets his attention drift to backyard activity [your dialogue isn’t advancing the plot]
- growls [waaaaay too much exposition]