Ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple ‘I must,’ then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse.
Dear Creative Troublemaker,
I know you’ll like this party and I would love for you to join me. But if you don’t have time to read the What, How, Who, Where and Why-You, explained in detail below, here is a quick 2 minute summary, so you can cheat (and tell) — but only if you promise to come back and finish the whole meal.
COULD WRITING BE YOUR PASSION OR AMONG THE TOP MUSES THAT MAKE YOU COME ALIVE?
If you already know it is, do you have any creative writing projects that your heart is dying to complete, yet your mind always ends up postponing for later, until later turns into tomorrow, and tomorrow into sometime soon and sometime soon into maybe one day, and maybe one day into possibly never?
Do you often feel like you are chasing your own tail and, at the end of the day, even when you manage to do everything on your list (and your neighbors’) you still haven’t touched — let alone practiced, your most burning passion?
Here’s the simple, painful truth: Life is always too short and it is slipping through your fingers. The point of you is not to just survive your way through this human experience but to be fully and abundantly alive. And you can only reach this aliveness, when your heart, mind and body are creatively engaged in practicing you passion.
The world has taught us how to survive and we’ve become so great at it, we have replaced the picture with the frame. The problem is, our life support does not equal our life. In order to regain the point of living, are you — or should you be pursuing your deepest desires with utmost intensity? Are you creating, every day, the life you actually want to live or do you keep postponing your aliveness for when you “have more time”?
If the answer is Not quite living but not fully dead yet — the next vital question would be, How can you reignite your creativity, in your own imperfect life and circumstances, right here and now, wherever you’re at? How can you turn your life into your greatest work of art? And if you are already living like a work of art, then how can you get more of it?
See, we don’t ever get enough aliveness, just like we don’t get enough oxygen to stop breathing. It’s a constant creative evolution, a gradual becoming. For all the love and beauty you inhale, there’s even more to pay back and exhale into the world.
Henry David Thoreau pointed out that most people live lives of quiet desperation. The best way I know to avoid being these people is by rebelling against everything that robs us of our creative passion and hunger for life, with even greater displays of creativity.
As someone I know once put it,
HOW CAN CREATIVE WRITING BRING YOU BACK TO LIFE?
Writing is the ultimate form of creative rebellion, because it questions and deconstructs a stagnant reality by creating a new, more breathable one through words and stories.
Stories are the currency of thought. At the bottom of everything we believe about life, there is a story. As such, all we do as human beings, one lifetime after another, is tell our stories and listen to others’ stories about themselves and about the world. Writing puts these stories in a more palpable format, operating as a mirror, through which we can better observe our lives.
Writing is healing, life-changing, revolutionary. It gives us back the reigns over our life and restores our creative right to a fuller, more abundant existence. In becoming the story-tellers of our own lives, rather than helpless characters trapped in books nobody wants to read, we regain our intrinsic power to shape our reality into a more breathable version, and thus affect the course of the world.
SO, HOW DO WE RE-PRIORITIZE OUR CREATIVITY AND TURN OUR FOCUS FROM SURVIVAL TO ALIVENESS?
How can we put this life-saving writing practice among our top daily priorities, so that we can begin to taste the fullness of life? So that we can stop being the secondary characters in someone else’s book and become the protagonists and writers of our destiny?
There are many ways to go about it. But here is a practical, hands-on creative exercise to get us started, or light back our missing fire.
Troubled Writer, meet the Write Yourself Alive FREE 30-Day Writing Challenge, during which you will write every damn day, first thing in the morning, right after your physical morning routine or anytime BEFORE you go about your daily work and activities, from 15 minutes to 3 hours (for as long as you can hold it).
Thirty Days of Focusing on Your Passion, of highlighting it, examining it, bleeding through it, practicing it like your life depended on it (because although you may not see it yet, it does). Thirty days of turning your writing into a priority, rather than merely an option, a hobby, a wasted gift, a closeted dream, a nightmare, or any other shapes survival has shifted your heart into. Thirty days of exercising your creative muscles along with hundreds other creators all over the world…
Does this sound good to your tired heart? Would it gently kick your inactive, bored, stressed out or blocked writerly ass? Is your creativity excited or afraid or trying to find reasons not to jump head in?
That’s a good sign. Resistance comes from fear. And fear indicates a need not met, a sensitive point, a wound not yet healed, a desire unmet, a wish not yet come true. And this is exactly why you (yes, you) are cordially invited to the second, official WRITE YOURSELF ALIVE 30-Day Writing Challenge, starting August 1st, 2014.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
1. How long should I write for, each morning?
Whatever works for you in your circumstances. Anytime from 15 minutes to 3 hours will help. I suggest you set a specific duration and draw a sacred circle around this time each morning (as much as you can realistically allow yourself) and try to stick to it by all means — unless interrupted by the End of the World (asteroids, tsunamis, earthquakes, zombie attacks, the usual…).
2. What project / genre / piece of writing should I work on?
Any creative project that is currently gathering dust in your heart and agonizing a slow but painful death: a novel, poetry, an essay, an article, a memoir, journaling… whatever your heart is asking to be alchemized through, whatever will best facilitate your bleeding at this point in your affair with life, whatever feels RIGHT to your fingers and TRUE to your current adventure.
3. Does it have to be in the morning?
Yes, it does. That’s the whole point of this challenge: PRIORITIZING your passion. The way you start your day makes all the difference. Every night is a kind of death and every morning is a resurrection. The first thoughts and actions you create right after you wake up set the tone for the rest of the day and, to a great extent, they predispose your mood, beliefs about yourself and your life, levels of self trust and imagination.
Just like exercising your physical muscles first thing in the morning makes your blood flow, gives you more energy through the day, improves your mood and outlook on life and oxygenates your brain to help you make better decisions — so does exercising your creative muscles reignite your aliveness.
When put first, Creativity will lead the way through your daily issues, open your mind, unblock your imagination’s aorta, facilitate new ideas and open doors you never thought you had the key for.
4. But what if I don’t have the time?
Does anyone really? Time is a funny and evasive bastard. It’s an illusion, it’s not something you’re supposed to have (or get), but something you ought to MAKE. When all is said and done, time is all you have and all you are. An 80-year-if-you’re-lucky piece of time — that’s You.
I don’t know how busy you are. I don’t know how difficult your life is. I don’t know how fucked or dark or epic or bright your story reads. I don’t know you. But I do know YOU, I know US. Genetically speaking we are 99,9 % alike, and I know this:
It doesn’t matter what you accomplish, what you do and don’t, what you have or get, how others perceive you, how you perceive yourself…All your possessions, titles, achievements, they all turn to dust, if the wrinkles quickly forming on your face don’t have your true story written over them.
NOTHING matters if your heart is just a blood-pumping machine. NOTHING is real if your passion is not part of the deal. NOTHING has any worth, if your truth is not alive, burning bright inside it. “Your” story doesn’t mean a thing without your signature. NOTHING will free you from that cage inside your chest, if you don’t sing your song with every breath you have.
I am a firm believer in creativity as a global catalyst for change from the inside out, and I have seen it save too many lives to ignore — including mine. So I believe that a FREE, 30-day, do-it-yourself, with-what-you-have, right-here, right-now, Creative Writing Marathon will help you put your heart in perspective, reignite your passion for writing and any other creative endeavors or projects on your list.
5. Is this writing challenge for me?
Yes. Yes. And Yes. This writing marathon is aimed for every writer’s shape, taste, method, intensity, style or expertise. From amateurs to beginners to advanced to pros, there is a place for everyone. It is not a workshop, a course, or a conference. Wherever you’re at in your love affair with writing, this will help.
This is a creative, motivational, inspirational, group activity in which you can participate as much or as deeply as you’d like / are able to — or just enough to get you bleeding. The rules are to be customized by YOU at your own rhythm and depending on your goals, knowledge, circumstances, practice…
Just like in any marathon, there are all kinds of runners. The faster, more experienced ones who have already learned the rules enough so they can creatively break them in the best way that works for them, will benefit most from the motivation to finish that project they keep postponing and the reminders that writing is a lifetime romance, not a one-time night affair. They will renew their vows or get remarried to their craft.
As for the slower, less experienced runners, with lots of heart but not much craft yet, they will go from being infatuated with writing to maybe falling in a deeper, more substantial love and realize the gut and blood and commitment this relationship takes. They will benefit most from all the resources, tips, feedback, group support and interaction.
You can find yourself anywhere between these writing types. The point is getting or staying in shape. As long as you are running, you’re alive.
6. Can I share my work with other participants? Will I be able to have my work critiqued or reviewed by them or by a professional?
You are free to share your progress, creation, musings, posts, ANYTHING you are inspired to share with other creators, via our home-base Facebook group AND on any other social media platforms — we are using mostly Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
You may give or take any opinions about your work freely, as desired, or create any subgroups with people of your choosing, who are also doing the challenge and could benefit from a smaller group interaction or more in-depth critique.
However, being only a FREE writing challenge / marathon, official or professional critiques or reviews are not currently part of the offering. Just like a fitness challenge, this writing challenge is aimed to get you writing every day — and specifically created to experiment with our creativity and test how making of writing a priority, first thing in the morning can improve the quality of our lives. (Scroll down to read THE POINT and the variables we’ll be paying special attention to).
This 30-Day challenge is not structured as a workshop or more rigorous writing course and it will not provide you with specialized writing training. It will, however provide you with inspiration, overall group support, writing recommendations, goodies and resources.
Additional professional services, workshops and specialized writing events will be available separately, for those interested, after the challenge and through the coming months.
The goal of this challenge is to MAKE IT WORK FOR YOU, without any other requirements or conditions besides your willingness to try. Use this push to immerse yourself again (or for the first time) in your passion for the written word. Bring writing to you, to your life, your circumstances, your routine, your story.
WHAT OTHER CREATORS ARE SAYING…
Here are some of the echoes participants in our first challenge have left behind, on how this writing marathon has impacted their lives:
The 30 Days of Writing challenge inspired me to make the time and just do it. Without judgement, let the words flow. I will read, edit and spell check at a later date. It also connected me with similar writers who are talented, supportive and some yummy human beings to share with. And it was fun!!!
~ Melody Lima
Writing has always been a struggle. It was an all or nothing venture. Either I didn’t write or when I did, kids were neglected (hungry? Put the hotdog in the microwave!) and then there were those tumultuous on again/off again love affairs with procrastination.
In these past 30 days, I have started each day affirming the importance of my writing, telling myself that, no, I wasn’t going to get to it when I had time. I was going to write now. I was very clear that that was the purpose of this event for me. Not writing one to three hours a day, not achieving a certain goal, just telling myself my writing came first, my creativity came first thing in the morning, and telling myself that with action.
Interestingly, just the act of doing that made me more aware of writing opportunities throughout the day and I found myself taking them.
~ Demian Yumei
Loved the 30-Day Challenge. it is helping me focus again on the ‘product’/’production’/’factory’ – just making the art (process); just writing. Thank you so much for putting the challenge out, through the void, through the matrix! I am so grateful for having received the message — the fire. Awesome.
The experience, for me, encapsulated so, so much. It was a reminder, an eye-opener, a refresher, a disappointment, a small success, a quiet revelation, a bombshell of reality. I am so grateful for those who participated, shared, and gave feedback. People became brave through each other’s honesty. What a brilliant gift you gave us! Writing every damn day was one thing; your commitment, passion, consistency, writing, coaching, cheering, inspiring, interacting, READING, and dedication to see this project to the end (or the beginning as it were) was incredible. Thank you. At the risk of coming across as recherché, I think you may have saved a few lives yourself.
~ Carly Hitchcock
If the first meal of the day is the most important, shouldn’t the first thought be as well? First thing in the morning, as soon as you woke, you wrote 1 – 3 hours. Writing is always a priority, but for these 30 days it was ‘the’ priority. It was contrary to my regular nocturnal schedule, but it was worth it. It has transformed my process. It takes commitment, and then it takes control…. There is value in getting up and doing what you must do, what you love to do, and what you keep wanting to do. So I do it.
~ J.J. Lewis
The commitment to the 30 days and the place to share helped me in ways I am still processing. Visible results are a new blog, a poem published, new interesting friends, new pieces written that are unearthing some of my deepest realizations, I opted to take a couple of short writing workshops which have instructed & challenged me.
Mainly, I am facing the challenges that by allowing my desire to write to be a priority has strengthened and deepened my relationship with myself. I have battled with perfectionism and this commitment challenge has shown me there is no room in my life for this anymore. Connecting with you and all that you offer feels like kismet. I am a little breathless with all that has happened. And grateful for your bravery in stepping out with this to begin with.
~ Lisa Marguerite Mora
I just want to say thank you for the inspiration. Writing is one of the things I’ve always wanted to do. For years now, I’ve been frustrated with myself for not trying to develop my skills and for being too lazy to try and write the stories in my head. Today, I decided to change and push myself to write again. I was looking for topics on the internet when I came across this blog of yours and I feel very fortunate that I did. Your words gave me the encouragement that I needed. I don’t think I’ll be able to follow all the rules of the challenge, but I promise to always write. So again, thank you.
*READ the recap of our first Write Yourself Alive 30-Day Writing Challenge here: 5 Ways Writing Can Save Your Life.
To explore ourselves. To get to know ourselves. To understand ourselves. To rewrite and retell our stories. To reignite our passion. To change our life from the inside out, day after day. To practice creativity as a modus operandi. To honor our gifts. To prioritize our passion. To evolve from survival to aliveness. To LIVE just as we’ve always wanted: truly, deeply, madly, now.
As with any experiment, here are the main variables we’ll be testing on ourselves to calculate the impact that honoring our passion and starting our day with the practice of our creative superpowers will have on our lives. Throughout the 30 Days of Writing, pay special attention to the following:
- Your level of satisfaction with life. — Does it make you come alive and feel more optimistic about your life?
- Your mood and disposition through the rest of the day. — Does it improve your overall mood and help you handle the rest of your tasks with less complaints?
- Your well-being, if it makes you feel better physically. — Do the mental and emotional benefits of honoring your passion also extend to your body?
- Your overall productivity. — Does it increase? Do you experience less distractions — less need for mind-less mental snacks — if you nourish your creativity first thing in the morning?
- Your curiosity, perspective, imagination and critical thinking. — Does this practice open new doors in your mind? Does your mind expand in ways you couldn’t foresee or believe possible?
HOW TO PARTICIPATE
- If you haven’t yet, request to join our 30 Days of Writing Official Facebook Group, along with 400+ other writers. This space will be our playground. Here is where we’ll touch base with each other daily for inspiration, musings, insights, sharing, etc.
Additional & Optional — But Very Helpful Ingredients:
- Use the main hashtag #30daysofwriting + any of the following:
#writeyourselfalive #writeeverydamnday #justwrite with your challenge posts, so we can easily connect in the social media jungle.
- Sign up for my Write Yourself Alive email list to receive a FREE Creative Writing / Artistic Questionnaire at the beginning of the challenge aimed to help you understand the WHY behind your writing, and redefine your creative purpose.
- Follow the most recent Write Yourself Alive feeds on Facebook & Instagram for daily, ALL YEAR writing-only inspiration, news & resources. For additional creative resources, community, life tips, news & goodies, bookmark and follow the host & sponsor of this challenge – Creative Rehab + Rebelle Society.
- Help us spread the word to other writers in need by sharing ANY OF THE IMAGES CONTAINED IN THIS ARTICLE via your social circles or with anyone who might benefit from joining us.
GOODIES & RESOURCES
A) Aside from the group support, I’ll be writing all over your face in different kinds of ink and type-writing you with multiple writing resources throughout the 30 Days — such as articles, prompts, book recommendations, quotes, creative writing tips & tricks, and everything that I can manage to help you Write Yourself Alive.
B) A yummy writing-themed giveaway. (More details coming during the challenge.)
C) Help yourself to this additional writing inspiration to warm up for the game. A few whispers from the Writing Soul of the World, along with timeless wisdom from classic writing masters & teachers.
- “Writing, at its best, is a lonely life.” — Ernest Hemingway’s Nobel Acceptance Speech + Witty Tips for Writers.
D) The recommended MANUAL, inspiring quick read for this adventure, this modern classic and unputdownable Creator’s “Bible” should come with a cape. If you haven’t read it yet, you’re missing out: The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.
LAST BUT FIRST
Get your fingers ready to sing, your heart ready to bleed, your mind ready to be motivated, your creativity ready to get reignited and your writer’s ass ready to be kicked.
If not now, when? If not here, where? If not you, who?
Join our 30 Days of Writing Official Facebook Group, along with 700+ other writers and creators. This space will be our playground for the Challenge.
A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.
– Maya Angelou
ARE YOU THAT BIRD?
*Images (c) Bigstock