Another Round of Writing Challenges and Continued Growth

Well, here it is November 1st, 2016 and I’m sitting in my writing room letting the sunshine stream in while the sounds of construction come in from the street out front. It’s supposed to be a beautiful day with highs near 75 degrees here in Oak Park, less than a mile outside of Chicago, IL. I’m feeling very lucky right now because many years on this date I’m facing lead gray skies combined with chilly temperatures and dampness that seeps into my bones. Today I’m also starting my first two month writing challenge as I continue to attempt to change, grow, and become more than I was yesterday. In the past I’ve done a one month essay challenge, in July of 2015, and just this past August another dedicated to fiction, both times with a goal of hitting a minimum of 750 words per day.

This time my plan is to simply write those 750 words per day and not worry about the genre; instead I’m going to permit the day to dictate what I work on. Hopefully this will lead to an interesting mix of essays, fiction, poetry and whatever else might come out as I listen to the voices in my head that choose to speak on any particular day. I’m also keeping the door open to altering my goals over the next two months while maintaining the one constant rule: no less than 750 words per day. From that perspective I might find a particular piece that calls for more development, more attention, or whatever, and run with it for several days, building it as I go.

I’ll still need to come to grips with sifting through the pages, building a revision and submission process, and pushing through to completion of the process through publication: finding homes for my work other than my hard drive, blogspot, or desk drawer. Eventually I want to produce some book length manuscripts and actually see them come to fruition, but I’m still laying the foundation for that as well as searching for concepts to run with. This two month challenge is another step toward that long term goal, and a way to ensure that I keep the sentences flowing forward as I shuffle closer to it.

I’m also planning on keeping my musical pursuits moving which is definitely in keeping with my ADD. I tend to do best when I’m juggling several projects, some of which are on my own while others are collaborative. I write best on my own, but I perform best in a group setting. In that vein I’m currently working with a semi-acoustic trio playing guitar, and also playing bass for two other groups, a rock cover band and a blues rock band. Additionally I haven’t given up the ghost on my solo work, all of which, through the four avenues, I’m hoping will generate some income while I’m moving forward with my writing. I believe I can get done what I need to in terms of preparation for rehearsals and gigs during my afternoons while devoting my morning bandwidth to writing.

It’s easy to see that this could end up generating tons of work and create time crunches as well, particularly when added to the changes I need to make in my diet and exercise patterns. The fact of the matter is that I feel better about myself when I’ve been productive as a writer in a way that I don’t from my other activities. As a musician I get satisfaction from performing; it fulfills a very real need and when I haven’t been performing I find much fodder to feed my bouts of depression. It’s something I’ll need to do probably for the rest of my life, or until I can’t carry the equipment anymore. Writing, however, is different in that after I’ve written I feel that I have created something with the potential for permanence and the possibility of concrete communication. The two fields are not mutually exclusive, writing and music, and I am finding that I am getting greater clarity about what I want to do musically over the long haul as I am getting the same with my writing, but that’s a topic for a different essay.

The sun is still shining and the construction crew is still working out front. The Tuesday 10am testing of the local tornado sirens just kicked in, something that used to give my daughter pause while seated in her classroom. I’m sorely looking forward to the completion of the street project, replacing the sewer lines, water lines, curbs, parkway sidewalks and street surfaces. They’ve been working away at it for two months now and have about four to six weeks of work left to do. Once that is done I’ll have my beloved peace and quiet back, but until that time I’ll simply have to keep myself focused and appreciate the sunlight as we head into late autumn. Here’s to the next two months of music and writing! Cheers!


2 thoughts on “Another Round of Writing Challenges and Continued Growth

  1. You’ve inspired me Chris. When I first retired I wrote for a couple of hours each day with intent, finishing numerous essays and 54 chapters of a book about our experiences during the year a Japanese mother and her 4 year old lived with us in 1999-2000. I worked at editing and shared some of it with a very few family members and friends. Once I realized it wasn’t good enough to publish, I just quit it, leaving it unfinished. Once we started spending time out here, I completely quit writing, just assuming that full retirement meant no more personal growth except for grandparenting. I’m going to start to spend time purposefully writing again. Thanks. Barb ps I tried to post on your blog in response to the essay but it said “not at this time.”



    1. I’m glad to provide positive inspiration! I’m finding that one way or another writing assists me in keeping my brain moving, as well as provides me with an underlying purpose, in a way that others things don’t. I have found that I really need to impose some form of structure on doing it otherwise it doesn’t happen. That’s one of the reasons why I try to be as public with the writing challenges as possible, because it makes me accountable to others as well as myself. If I miss a day, it shows on my Facebook feed which I would find to be displeasing, and since I am an honest sort by nature I’ll admit it if I make a hash out of it. It probably annoys some of my friends, but I’m not going for the “hey, look at me” aspect. The accountability factor is what keeps me moving.

      I’m not sure how long it takes to show on the posts. I think I have to look at it on WordPress before it will show.

      My mom retired from writing at about 63, and reportedly doesn’t miss it. She’s going to be 80 next July, which I’m having some difficulty wrapping my head around. She always spoke highly of your skills as a writing instructor.



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