A Little Bit (Or More) Each Day ... Of What?
December 14, 2012 4:46 PM   Subscribe

Help me decide how to spend 5 to 30 minutes each day in 2013.

Last Christmas I received a "daily journal" jar loaded with questions and prompts for writing about my life. I began in January and kept at it. It has been a great project because I love writing and enjoy journaling. Though I'm busy, my schedule is pretty flexible. Now I have a 100,000+ word document, which feels like quite an accomplishment. But a year of writing about myself seems like plenty.

Perhaps the most important part of this project - the one I'm struggling to replicate - is the balance of routine (one response per day) and flexibility (writing more or less depending on interest or available time, writing whenever I can steal some time during the day).

I am considering writing something else. But I worry about replicating the balance. If I wrote a novel, for instance, a daily word count might be too constraining. But "I'll write every day" would be to easy to dodge with "I'll make up for it tomorrow." And there would be days when I'd legitimately want to spend the time researching and puzzling instead of writing. Too many such days could easily derail the project.

What other ideas do you have for daily actions where I could replicate this balance? Or, if you think writing a book will work, how should I set the parameters so I can keep it up for a year?
posted by reader-writer to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (13 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know if you knit or crochet, but I just saw a scarf with a bunch of different colors of yarn and the idea was you would knit a row each day to match the color of the sky. I guess it's less flexible but I thought it was a cool plan.

Maybe some sort of photo project to complement the words for this year?
posted by brilliantine at 4:50 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think writing a book could work, unless you're writing about a topic you don't know enough about and really have to research for your first draft. There are plenty of novel ideas that would need little to no research for the first draft. What you could do is write the first draft of your novel over the next year by writing one scene each day. Then your scenes are flexible in terms of length, but you're constricted to writing something each day. If you do need to do research, you could limit one day a week to research.
posted by DoubleLune at 5:01 PM on December 14, 2012

You could write short stories following a prompt- i think you can find online daily prompts.
posted by TestamentToGrace at 5:16 PM on December 14, 2012

How about learning to play an instrument? Or do something fun like hula hooping? Or if you are into arts&crafts create something every day, say paper origami/ornaments?
posted by travelwithcats at 5:19 PM on December 14, 2012

I would like to learn to draw, and I love my dog. So I am going to draw a picture of my dog every day in 2013, trying to improve my skills.

I don't know what people would think if, say, I disappeared and the police discovered the sketches in my house. "Spinster librarian disappears, leaves hundreds of drawings of her dog behind. Dog is being questioned, relatives are denying knowledge of her obsession. Details at eleven."
posted by Elly Vortex at 5:38 PM on December 14, 2012 [10 favorites]

Ask all your friends and family members to write down 10 ideas for you, and start a new jar with all of those.
posted by chickenmagazine at 6:15 PM on December 14, 2012

Are you set on writing or having a tangible, physical artifact as a result? If not, what about meditation?
posted by hapax_legomenon at 6:24 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's been my experience that having a daily word count or time limit for a novel is actually a really helpful way to make the whole task way easier to deal with. As long as I give myself permission to a) write garbage and b) write more than my word count, I'm more able to put out a higher volume of acceptable work with a word count standard. Can't hurt to try!
posted by windykites at 7:54 PM on December 14, 2012

You might start with writing a short story every day, and once you stumble across an idea you just can't let go after one day, transition to making that your novel.

If you aren't thinking about writing, you could do a multitude of things. Heck, you could even focus on a few separate things that each take a very small amount of time, such as doing 100 consecutive pushups, learning to juggle, improving your handwriting, playing the piano, or working on one of those artsy craft projects that you see with a million little buttons formed into the new york skyline, or something else that seems impossible unless you break it down into tiny little chunks.
posted by markblasco at 8:16 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

How about Keri Smith's Finish This Book or Wreck this Journal ?
posted by peagood at 7:51 AM on December 15, 2012

If you want to keep on with the writing, maybe try 750words.com? It's a reasonably achievable goal, and keeps track of whether or not you've done it every day.
posted by MsMolly at 10:25 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Stretch. You can't really make it up at the end of a week/ month but you can put as much or as little effort into each day as you'd like. It will literally make you more flexible, but it's pretty easy to do or fit in just about anywhere.
posted by raccoon409 at 2:51 PM on December 15, 2012

I'm going to take up cross stitching dirty words and insults to both get in touch with my inner femme and to deal with work stress.

Seconding stretching as good advice.

I'm bad at remembering things like this: putting on lotion and sunscreen. The "response" is that your skin gives back less freckles n shit.
posted by DisreputableDog at 9:11 PM on December 15, 2012

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