04 May 2011

Lessons from the A to Z blogging Challenge

On Arithmetic
A lot of you probably know that I run (and those of you who don't - now you do). Unlike my fellow running burrowers (Hart and Leanne), however, I started running only when I was well into my late 30s. Though I love running, I am not particularly fast, even after making allowances for my age and the fact that I started late. But what I lack in speed, I make up in tenacity - if I start something, I finish it, somehow.

Which was what I did during my first (and only) full marathon. Less than six months before the race, my hypothyroidism had been diagnosed, and I had subsequently gone through a hysterectomy. A couple of weeks before the race, I had fallen ill again, and was struggling to even climb stairs. And yet, come race day, I pinned up my bib, laced up my running shoes, and lined up with three thousand others at the start line. Less than mid-way into the race, I realised I could either keep running, or finish the race - I couldn't do both. I chose to start walking. Two-thirds into the race, the road was thrown open to traffic, and I got off the road and onto the pavement. People all around me dropped out, but my feet took on a life of their own and refused to stop till I crossed the finish line.

On Bucket lists
This year's A to Z Challenge was no different from my first full marathon. My life was spiraling out of control when I signed up for it, but I hoped I would get some order into it by April. In the second half of March, I was thinking of taking a sabbatical from blogdom, because I could just not manage all the things that I was required to do. But before I could formally announce by break, April was upon me, and I decided to write a drabble "On Arithmetic", and take every day as it came. On April 2, I had no idea what I was going to write about, and wasn't even planning to push myself to think of an appropriate B post- but out of nowhere, a drabble "On Bucket lists" floated into my brain, and almost wrote itself.

The rest of the month was no different. On most days, till lunch-time I would not have any idea what I was going to write about, but by evening, an idea would germinate, and the drabble would get written. Twenty-six non-Sunday days, twenty-six drabbles. None pre-scheduled. All posted before dinnertime. Almost all of them exactly 100 words on first attempt.

On Zero
It was only when I reflected on it after the month was over that I realised the magnitude of what I had accomplished. For no reason other than sheer necessity, I had converted myself into a reliable drabble machine. Whether it was an internal editor at work, or a writer who had exactly understood her brief, it was almost incredible that the first draft was always between 97 and 106 words long, and those few words took only a minute or two to get added or subtracted (or both simultaneously).

Which only goes to show that writing is a skill like any other, and practice does make you get better and better at it. If I could do it for the A to Z Challenge, I wonder why I can't do it otherwise. Maybe I just have to force myself into a chair for half an hour a day, Everyday!


Jan Morrison said...

wonderful...and if you're like me, you want to curl up in a ball and sleep for a month...

ViolaNut said...

I have yet to figure out how any of you do as much as you do. Right, I've officially been shamed into remembering to run tomorrow. Unless it's raining. ;-)

Chary Johnson said...

I failed abysmally. :( I just can't seem to focus on writing right now. *sighs* I can't wait for the summer.

Tina said...

I like the running comparison. I'm a former runner, who misses it intensely. The part that I failed on with the challenge was the visiting of others. Which led me to this: Shannon @ The Warrior Muse and I are joining forces in another challenge. We're going to visit and comment at each of the participants, starting with the reflections post. We hope you'll join us!
Tina @ Life is Good