A Year of Writing

writing-with-penIn the busy run up to the new year, I always like to set aside some time to think about how the old year went and what things I would like to change or improve upon in the next. Like most people, better fitness is almost always on the list. However, this year, I also resolve to write every day in ways that are completely outside my comfort zone.

Since graduating from law school, I have been very interested in learning to be a better lawyer, and as a corollary to that, how to be a better writer. But, while my current job as a pseudo-judicial clerk entails almost non-stop writing, the subject matter of that writing is quite narrow. There isn’t a lot of opportunity for me to write outside of a fairly narrow range of legal writing. In many ways, the experience has made me feel that my writing has become stagnant.

Well, to develop any skill better, one needs to practice. And that is precisely what I intend to do this year. As I conceive it, the goal will be to write something with a more personal aspect to it, whether as a blog post about a news story that catches my eye, a diary entry regarding my day, or even a bit of fiction whenever an idea comes to mind. Three-hundred sixty-five days of writing. To enforce this goal, if for some reason I miss a day — and, having a baby on the way in mid-February, this is bound to happen — I will write “double” that amount the next. And if I miss two days in a row, I’ll have to double it again, and so on.

Of course, the reason I put scare quotes around double is part of my lawyer-like nature; what counts as double is relative when you don’t have a specific daily goal (i.e. number of words) in mind. Still, when it comes down to it, I’ll know in my heart what qualifies as double. And perhaps sometimes I will skip a day on purpose when I have an idea that I know will result in a lengthy piece of writing.

So with this goal in mind, some logistics:

Where will I publish the writing?

This is a great question, and one I haven’t fully settled on the answer to yet. Obviously, I’m giving Medium a try with this first piece. I also have my own website at seanflaim.com that I plan on reworking for the remainder of today (and cross-posting this first piece to). I have a tumblr (seanflaim.tumblr.com) that I might use. I’ll also look into other methods of publishing as I go. In addition, there might be times that I am writing something more personal for myself (think a diary about a personal issue I have that I’m not yet ready to share about) in which case I’ll post a note that I did write, including the general subject matter, but not publish the actual writing.

How will I get the time to write?

This question has a much easier answer: I’ll make the time. Generally the issue most people have with New Year’s resolutions comes down to the issue of time and motivation. Starting to do something with some sort of consistency, whether it’s exercise or writing, requires giving up what you were doing with the time before you set yourself to the task. In my case, I’m a voracious reader of news and can spend hours on Twitter each day. This is the low hanging fruit when it comes to opening up some time in my day for other tasks.

What do I hope to get from putting my writing out there?

Personally, I just hope to be able to expand my repertoire as a writer. If along the way anybody else wants to read my work, so much the better. And if there are other readers and you see something you find interesting, please reach out and let me know. Similarly, if you have any comments or critiques on anything, those suggestions are also appreciated.

How the heck am I going to come up with 365 days of ideas to write about?

I’m honestly not too concerned about this one. I actually have a number of ideas that have been kicking around in my head for the last half of this past year that I need to set my mind to and get started on. Also, I plan to start using the blank notebook I always carry around with me for those odd moments when a writing idea comes out of nowhere. And, since I’m allowing blog posts on news, etc., there is always something new and interesting out there that I can comment on. The key is to just get in the practice of exercising my brain and putting my thoughts down; if I can achieve that then I think that will also nudge my creative side into providing more intellectual fodder for me to work with.

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