When I first discovered Jami Attenberg’s 1000 Words of Summer (on the day it began), I thought: this is just what I need. I had been trying to get back into a regular writing routine for the past month and failed miserably. I’d write 500 words one day, 400 the next. I’d skip a day or two, then somehow get out 800 words. But there was no method to the madness. There was no structure. And according to all the articles I was reading about working from home, I needed structure. A schedule.
I’m a woman who loves a good schedule. Schedules keep me focused. Schedules help me stay on track when I start to get distracted. But being home all day, every day, for months has affected me in ways I haven’t felt since I used to publish a fashion magazine from my home. Yet even then, I was allowed to leave my house and go anywhere I wanted, whenever I wanted.
Things are different this time around, and so I needed a challenge: a 1000-words-a-day kind of challenge. I needed to be held accountable; I needed to join the conversation. And so I opened Ulysses, created a new project just for this hashtag, and started typing.
One of my favorite things about #1000wordsofsummer was keeping up with everyone else’s progress on Twitter. It was nice to feel part of a writing group again, where everyone was working towards the same goal. It was nice to share our ups and our downs, our highs and our lows. In fact, this may be what I will miss about the challenge the most.
1040 words done! I’ve been thinking a lot about my writing process lately and decided to write about that today. Might turn it into a blog post someday! #1000wordsofsummer— Megan Portorreal (@meganportorreal) June 8, 2020
For the record, I am a handwriting kind of woman. I have kept journals for the past 17 years and seem to remember tasks best when I write them down on paper versus typing them into my phone. Handwriting works best for me for short passages, journal entries, or brain dumps. But when I am working on longer pieces, like essays, I like to type these first—it helps me keep up with the thoughts in my brain.
Plus, Ulysses has this very handy, encouraging Goal tool that counts my words quietly in the corner, my progress forming a slow, perfect circle. When it lights up green for hitting my goal, I always let out a sigh of relief. It’s such a rewarding feeling!
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NEW BLOG POST | After journaling for over 15 years, I have learned a lot about myself. Journaling isn’t only about self-preservation: it is also an opportunity to look back and see how your old decisions affected your life. ⠀⠀ Today on my blog, I’m opening up about the super personal, microscopic process of analyzing your thoughts, documenting the mundane, and remaining true. Now live on my blog, meganportorreal.com (link in bio) ⠀⠀ Do you keep a journal? How has it helped you over the years? What have you learned? I’d love to know!
One day at a time.
For the first few days of #1000wordsofsummer, I wrote extensive journal entries. These were almost akin to stream of consciousness and felt very satisfying to do. Normally in my bullet journal, my entries range between 200-300 words, yet here was an opportunity for me to dive a little deeper.
Typically, I feel hesitant to write super specific, ultra personal details in my handwritten journal because anyone can just pick it up and read it. But since my word processor is password-protected, I felt much more freedom to get more personal.
I wrote about things that were triggering me lately, about how life in quarantine has been affecting my mental health. I wrote about George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement, the protests and the posts, the allies and the racists.
When I needed to feel a little lighter, I wrote about my Animal Crossing: New Horizons adventures, about my bullet journal plans for July-December. And I even wrote more targeted pieces, including a blog post or two. I now have several drafts that just need some more polishing up before posting!
The experience was invaluable.
If there’s anything I learned during these last two weeks, it’s that writing 1000 creative words a day isn’t easy. I’m a fashion copywriter by day and sometimes I can easily write 1000 words in the form of email marketing and product descriptions without realizing it. But those aren’t words towards a personal project of mine, or a goal of mine, and I find it much more challenging to get those personal words out sometimes.
One thing I will definitely take away from these last two weeks is the scheduled time. I am proud to say I reached my goal of 1000 words each day in 2 hours’ time. However, moving forward, I think I will drop this word count to 800 words per day instead, which is my ideal length of a blog post. Maybe I’ll just write 5 times a week, Monday-Friday, and save the weekends for planning, outlining, or just some time to recharge.
At this moment, I am still furloughed from work, so I will eventually readjust this schedule to align with my workday. But for now, while I’m still stuck at home, I will continue writing each day, even if it’s just for me.
Do you have a writing goal that you try to hit each day? How do you manage it, avoid burnout, and stay motivated? I want to know!