On my birthday last year, 500 days ago, I started this blog. I had no idea what I was getting into.
I intended for the blog to be a simple record of the sculpture I was going to build from 16,252 pennies. I choose a penny to represent each day, gradually creating the sculpture, and for the record I would just write a few words about the day and the penny.
Within a couple of weeks, the blog had taken on a life of its own.
From years of not writing much, I had a pent-up demand. Stories of people, places, ideas, and just the joy of life came pouring out.
I re-discovered the joy of writing. I’ve written poetry and stories since I was old enough to write them down, but my years in journalism constantly cut off the creative side.
Now the writer I’ve always been is in charge.
Five hundred blog posts is quite a lot of writing -my posts average 400 to 500 words, so I’ve written more than 200,000 words just since July 2015.
That’s about the word count for three novels.
Writing every day taught me about writing stories. Two major points that I’ve absorbed:
- Make the story as short as it needs to be. If you can do it in 200 words, do so. If it’s 1,000 words, it might be two stories. Or not.
- Keep carving and carving and carving off the little pieces that are stand-alone stories. In doing so, you drill down into the details that bring the story to life.
Writing every day is great therapy.
Writing about painful events is catharsis – it makes it easier to put them behind you. Writing about problems is a way to think about them, and makes the problem seem more manageable.
Even in bad times, you’ll be glad that you have a record to look back on. Helps you realize how far you’ve come.
Writing a story that makes you look stupid is humbling, but then you find out that lots of other people do or think the same thing, and you’ve helped them.
The most wonderful feeling in the world is getting a comment from someone who says that you made them think differently about something, or made them notice something in their own life, or that they felt they were right there with you, or you made them feel better.
Writing every day taught me to think differently about my life.
The commitment to write every day makes you pay closer attention – a kind of mindfulness meditation – because you know you have to have something to write about for that day.
Sometimes the day isn’t about what it seems to be about. Sometimes you figure out what the day was by writing about it. Sometimes you don’t know what the day is about until the next day.
Often the day isn’t about the biggest “event” that day. It’s about a mushroom or a passing stranger.
Some days are like a Sudoku puzzle. You just keep filling them in until everything lines up, and when it does, you feel better and you can go to bed.
I might never get around to publishing a book, but this blog is just as good.
Today’s penny is a 2015, the first of these 500 days. I have 15,752 posts to go before I’m 100 years old. Then I can quit.