Three Years, Five Lessons

einsteinquoteThree years ago, I started the Impossible Words blog to bail myself out of writer’s block jail.  It worked, and has continued working.  This blog has made a big impact on the quality and the quantity of my writing.  Yet, I didn’t just learn how to improve my writing and keep myself inspired.  Over the years, I’ve learned some pretty significant things from my IW blog.  For instance…

It’s possible to turn limitations into opportunities.  All of the stories I post here are limiting in one way or another; if I’m not limited to words that don’t contain the letter A, I’m bounded by the challenge of using a pair of homophones in each sentence or using 50 X’s in just a few paragraphs.  No matter what the challenge, I am limited in the fact that I can’t write just anything.  At first, it’s a bit daunting.  There are still times when I think of a challenge and wonder, “Is that going to be too much of a struggle?”  But when I look back on it, I’ve written over thirty stories here on my blog (and 25 more in my book!), and I never would have written any of them had it not been for this blog.  My writing challenges aren’t the only limiting aspects in my life.  Though all of life’s limitations aren’t always as easy to overcome, it’s good to have a reminder that they often turn into experiences you wouldn’t have otherwise.

The things that challenge you can be a LOT of fun.  The idea of being “challenged” usually means more work, increased effort, and a whole lotta mental strength.  Just thinking about it is exhausting, honestly.  But any challenge, including the stories I write, often results in something worth being proud of—a sense of accomplishment, if you will.  When you know how it feels when the extra effort pays off, the hard work involved becomes something you really look forward to.

Variety is the key to continuously falling in love with what you already love.  You know that saying, “I love you, but I’m not in love with you?”  Well, that’s how I feel about writing when I have really bad writer’s block.  Each writing challenge I give myself here is so different than the last that not only do I beat my writer’s block, but “writing” becomes—in a sense—a whole new experience with every story.  Variety is what helps me to stay “in love” with the act of writing.

To do what you want to do, you’ll sometimes need to get creative.  Not everything comes easily.  We all know that, right?  Well, we might all know it…but it doesn’t make it any less frustrating when we have a hard time achieving what we want to achieve.  Oh, if only you knew how many stories I start for some of my challenges, only to delete them from my computer in a bout of irritation.  These are the times I sometimes think, “Welp, I’ve failed that challenge.”  But give me a couple of days to turn it over in my head, and I WILL find a way to finish the challenge.  Since I’m one of the most impatient people in the world, this has been a good lesson for me:  sometimes you have to take a detour to get where you’re going, but once you get there, that detour won’t matter anymore.

And finally…

It’s okay to be good at something, but not be perfect at it.  I used to be hard on myself when it came to my writing.  REALLY hard on myself.  By writing the stories I post here, I’ve learned that it’s not about writing something that is perfect; it’s about writing with a purpose.  My challenges are not meant to produce perfect stories.  They’re meant to keep me inspired, to help me grow as a writer, and to encourage me to see things from a different perspective.  As long as they continue to do that, I am proud of each and every word I write.

For those of you who write/blog, what kinds of things has writing taught you?

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