It is amazing that I am Month 6 of A Year of 30-Day Challenges. It feels like just yesterday I made the decision to dedicate each month to a new goal or challenge. This month, I am going to tackle a neglected task.
It started out well. I watched a few YouTube videos, checked out a book from the library, and practiced my stitches every evening while relaxing and catching up on Netflix. And then my world changed in a significant way and I confess I put my knitting needles down and didn’t pick them up the rest of the month. I would say I went at least half the month of December barely even looking at my knitting supplies.
You see, I was offered a great position in my son’s homeschooling organization (Classical Conversations) to direct and tutor a group of 7th graders. The offer came out of nowhere and sent me reeling. It is a very positive change and I am thrilled about it but it required a lot of planning, studying, and mental energy to prepare for the Spring semester. Throw in all the holiday festivities and by the end of the day, I could barely even read a book, let alone practice learning a new craft.
I am not ashamed nor do I feel guilty about not completing this challenge.
Life threw me a curveball and I just adjusted in order to catch it. It’s totally okay and I know I can pick up those knitting needles anytime I want especially now that I did learn two new stitches during the first half of December.
Also, because of this sudden change and redirection of my mental energy, I am late posting about January’s (month 6) challenge. I am only late posting about the challenge. I have actually been working on the challenge since the beginning of the month. *smiles*
In January, I am going to Tackle a Neglected Task.
Do you have a task you have wanted to complete but it always gets pushed after other things that take higher priority, real or perceived? Does it annoy you because you want to finish this thing but it just doesn’t want to happen?
Oh, I know that feeling all too well. I wish I could give you an awesome five-step process for how to complete that task. That would make for a great blog post that could potentially get a lot of shares and social media attention.
The truth of the matter is there is no multi-step process for tackling a neglected task. You just have to do it. You have to put a stake in the ground and say it is going to happen now, come what may.
January is my stake in the ground for my chosen neglected task. I will finish this project in January or at least have it mostly finished before the month is up.
Is there is a task that just won’t leave you alone because you know you need to get it done? Join me this month and get’er done!!
Well, I promised my husband I would read one of his all-time favorite books YEARS ago. Do you hear me? I said would read this book YEARS ago. YEARS! But, I never picked it up.
This particular book is a futuristic sci-fi book and sci-fi is totally not my jam. I don’t like sci-fi books or movies. The closest to sci-fi I’ve ever enjoyed is Marvel movies and I am sure most would say those aren’t even sci-fi.
I made this promise so long ago and yet it has always been in the back of my mind. I always want to keep my promises and especially to my husband. He loves this book and wants to share it with me. So, why not? I can push past my dislike for sci-fi and read one book to honor my word, right?
I hope to have the whole book read by February 1 so it will be behind me and I can read other books that are piling up beside me. I know I can do it if I just prioritize reading each evening. And then I can check that box and not be pestered by the need to tackle a neglected task.
Want to join me? Leave a comment or shoot me a message about the neglected task you want to tackle. We can support each other!!
This blog post is a bit late for announcing December’s 30-day Challenge. It’s for a good reason, though. Before I discuss this month’s challenge, let me tell you about November’s challenge.
November was National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. For those who are unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, it is an international event where writers challenge themselves to write a full novel in thirty days. To be considered a “winner” you have to write 50,000 words of your novel within those thirty days and then verify the word count on the NaNoWriMo website. That comes out to 1,667 words every day at a minimum to finish on time.
I am happy to say that I am a WINNER of NaNoWriMo and I finished three days early!!
I can confidently say that this challenge, so far, was the most exhausting physically, mentally, and emotionally. I was always pretty spent at the end of writing sessions each day, not wanting to do any work or even talk to people.
I did not write a consistent 1,667 words every day. Most of the days were at least 1,667 words. There were a few days when I didn’t even open my laptop for the whole day. After the low word count days, I would attempt to write extra to catch up. There were a few days with well over 2,000 words. And the last two days of the whole challenge were both over 4,000 words just because I was ready to be done and pushed to finish a few days early.
I went into this challenge as what NaNoWriMo calls a Pantster. That means I was flying off the seat of my pants and started the month with nothing. When I sat down to write on November 1, I had no outline, no characters, no setting and no plot. I barely had a starting line.
It was scary looking at that blank page not having an inkling of how I was going to pull 50,000 words out of nothing.
Somehow I did pull 50,000 words out of nothing. All it took was letting go of perfectionism and allowing my creativity to take center stage. Instead of writing my main character, it was like allowing my main character to write herself. I didn’t know from day to day what was going to happen next Sometimes I would have an idea of where I was going or where I wanted to go but there were often side trips that were hard to control. My main character had a mind of her own and did what she wanted.
I am still in a bit of shock that I wrote a novel in November.
Finishing this book was quite healing for me. A common theme I struggle with is not feeling good enough or successful enough or even capable of doing big things. It didn’t help that I had to bail out of running the marathon on November 2. Despite my hard work and precautions, my hip did not hold up well to training at all. I got up to running a half marathon (my third) and my hip started to deteriorate. It would hurt even on simple 3 mile runs. So, I knew getting up to 26.2 miles was pretty much out of the question. While I couldn’t run the marathon I still fulfilled a lifelong dream and that is pretty darn bad ass.
What’s next with my book?
The first thing I did was go to our local Office Depot and got it printed and spiral bound. I want a print copy for editing.
I’m going to let the first draft marinate or sit for a a couple weeks, maybe even a month. I won’t look at it during that time.
Come January, I will start the editing and revising process. It goes without saying that what I wrote in November is not even close to being ready for publication. You could call it Draft 0. There is a ton of work to be done and I am pretty confident my final book will be well over 50,000 words. I even have 3 pages of notes in the back of my printed draft for character ideas, plot points, etc. that need to be added.
Once I am somewhat okay with the editing and revising, I will send drafts off to friends and family to read and edit and offer suggestions. I don’t know how long this process will take.
I will repeat the editing and revising process for as long as I need to. And then….
I will start figuring out the publication process. Do I go the self-publishing route or traditional route? Do I seek out an agent? I don’t know and I am not worrying about that right now.
I once heard that the typical novel takes two years to go from writing to publication. I am in this for the long haul. I just finished month one of twenty-four.
With all that said, I need a break. I need something compeltely different than writing a novel to occupy my brain.
Learning a new craft seems more cozy to me and perfect for the shorter nights of December and the Christmas season.
The craft I chose to start learning is knitting.
I have been a crocheter for many years, picking up projects here and there and thoroughly enjoying the process. But, I’ve never really learned how to knit. I’ve always said I’d love to learn how to knit but never really took the leap to do so.
Here is my opportunity to learn!!
Turns out I already had some knitting needles from times when I said I would learn but never did and I had a few skeins of yarn from past crochet projects. so, this challenge requires no purchases whatsoever.
I am using tutorials on Youtube to teach me the basics. I particularly enjoy this channel. This fellow breaks down the process so well and he is easy to follow along with.
My plan is to practice knitting for at least ten minutes a day. I have no doubt that most days will be more than that.
I have a basket by the couch where I usually sit. I keep books and notebooks in there and it is the perfect home for my knitting supplies making it easy to pick it up whenever I sit down.
I have no grand plans for what the end result for the month will be. Right now I have one piece that is just a mish mash of stitches as I am learning them. Once I feel more confident in the most basic stitches, I will consider a formal project.
This month is all about rest all the while learning something new. I already enjoy the nightly ritual of playing with my yarn and needles. It doesn’t matter if I do ten rows or just two. And with the busy of the Christmas season, I believe this is the perfect challenge for me to help me rest and come back to myself.
What crafts do you enjoy?? Is there a craft you want to learn but have never taken the opportunity to learn? Why not start learning now? It only takes a few minutes a day to learn something new.
I can’t believe that I have finished 3 months of the Year of 30-day challenges. That is one-quarter of the challenges I committed to tackling at the start of this big challenge. I guess you could call it a Challenge of Challenges. The big challenge is to finish the full year and the little challenges are the individual monthly 30-day challenges.
My goal was to put my phone down and pick up a book more often. At the start of this challenge, I found myself in a position of defaulting to scrolling on my phone especially during the evening hours. I didn’t even notice I was doing it most of the time. It was just something I could do when relaxing at the end of the day and it required minimal mental energy.
The problem was that I knew that scrolling on my phone was not serving me well. Oftentimes, I would end up in a worse mood than when I started. I would sometimes fall into the comparison trap or I read some political discussion that got me riled up or I even allowed myself to engage in some debate and that never goes well.
At first, I thought I would pick a goal number of books to read in October. Because I am a recovering perfectionist I knew setting that kind of standard could go badly.
So, I simply challenged myself to scroll less and read more.
That’s it. Simple. In the evening, instead of scrolling I challenged myself to read more.
How did it go?
I read two books to completion and started a third one.
When I started the challenge I envisioned having read a lot more than that. But, I still consider this challenge a victory.
Victories from Month Three: Scroll Less, Read More
I now carry my Kindle in my purse whenever I leave the house.
I now expect to read just about every night before bed.
There were quite a few nights when I actually fell asleep in bed while reading a book. I wasn’t scrolling or watching YouTube or Netflix. I was reading. Win.
I challenged myself to read a certain number of pages or percentages in the Kindle and most days I met that goal.
I defaulted to reading my Kindle when waiting on my son to get out of activities or at appointments, etc. (Have you ever looked around a doctor’s office waiting room? It actually felt good to be the only person not staring at my phone for once.)
My “To Be Read” list grew quite a bit and I’m excited to work through that list.
I don’t feel “accomplished’ at the end of the day if I don’t spend some time reading.
What did I learn?
I still need to keep working on scrolling less. I confess there were some nights I never picked up a book. I was so tired and it just seemed too hard. Even so, reading a few pages of a book would have still done me more good than scrolling on my phone.
I need to read more novels. I love reading fiction. LOVE IT. But, I’ve been reading a lot of business/self-development/leadership books lately. Those are all wonderful and have helped me so much. But, I also need to allow myself to just retreat into a good story. I think having a leadership book and a good novel going at the same time is a good pace.
I need to get away from Holocaust-themed books. I majored in History in college and focused my studies around the Holocaust. I’ve always been fascinated in that period of history. I STILL read a ton about it. The problem is that, for obvious reasons, these books can really pull me down.
How did you do with the Scroll Less, Read More Challenge? Comment or shoot me an email and let me know what you read!!
On to Month Four!!!
Can I just say that this challenge is the MOST frightening? I thought the BE SEEN Challenge was going to be the most frightening but I was wrong.
The goal is to write a novel or at least get a good running start on a novel in the month of November. You are supposed to write 50,000 words by the end of the monthIt comes down to 1,667 words a day to stay on schedule to get 50,000 words done by the end of November 30.
If you submit your novel on November 30 and it does meet the 50,000-word requirement then you are considered a NaNoWriMo Winner. There are not prizes except the pride of accomplishment. You can buy yourself NaNoWriMo swag as a reward if you want.
I know full well that I won’t have a publishable novel at the end of NaNoWriMo. Most published novels are around 100,000 words, twice the amount of NaNoWriMo novel. The whole point is to push through fear and doubt and do something I’ve never felt possible. Who knows what will come from it!!
I have NEVER been one to write fiction. EVER!!! Do you hear me? I want to make sure those in the back can hear me. NEVER EVER have I been one to write fiction. I dream about writing novels but the idea scares me and so I have never done it. Till now….
The daily word count scares me. One thousand words a day does not bother me but adding 2/3 of that count to every day of the month does scare me. That’s a time and mental energy commitment.
It’s NOVEMBER!!!! We have a lot of stuff going on that month. In fact, we are leaving on a camping trip on the 2nd day of NaNoWriMo. I was laughing with my husband I would be writing on my laptop by the campfire and in the car when driving home. Then there’s Thanksgiving!! I usually don’t think about writing on Thanksgiving. We’ll be traveling to see family so I’ll have to account for my 1,667 words a day all while visiting family and eating delicious food.
I will be completely vulnerable right now and say I am entering this challenge as what NaNoWriMo called a “Pantster.”. That means I am pretty much going to be flying off the seat of my pants throughout this whole challenge. I have no idea what my story is going to be about or who the characters are or whatever. I have the first line and that’s it. This goes back to the perfectionism thing. I know that if I plan too much leading into this then I will find something wrong and will most likely shut down and not finish. So, the fun of this challenge will be letting the story write itself. (Spiritual alert: I strongly believe that God wants me to take this route to help me shed my perfectionism. He assures me there is a story worth writing and it will happen if I trust Him as I write.) Even as someone who isn’t terribly organized in general, taking this route is still scary.
What habits will I employ to get through NaNoWriMo?
My writing will focus on the novel for all of November. Getting my 1,667 words out each day will probably use up all my writing “words” for the day and that means I may or may not get other blog posts out. I hope to get at least another blog post out mid-month but we shall see how it goes.
I plan to write first thing in the morning. I will get up, eat breakfast, have my devotional time, and get to writing. I know that as the day goes along the chances of me writing will go way down. The best time is first thing in the am. Then I can ride the high of getting it done early.
I will use Cold Turkey Writer. This computer app blocks out EVERYTHING on the computer for a designated amount of time or word count. If I set it for 1,667 words then the whole screen is blocked out except for the writing program. I can’t scroll social media, check email, or read the news until I”ve written my words.
I will set writing goals and incentives. When I hit a certain number of words I will reward myself with something. I’m not sure what those will be quite yet but I know this will be helpful to stay motivated.
I will stay accountable on social media. I will post whenever I finish my words for the day. Twitter is the best place to keep up with my daily updates. My profile is here on Twitter.
“I wish I could read more books but I just don’t have the time. “
I have heard it or said it many times over. I long to read more books. I dream about the perfect reading scenario. Can you see it? It’s raining outside and I am curled up on the couch by a roaring fire with a warm blanket and a warm beverage as I adventure through an amazing world on the pages of my book. Or, I a sitting in an artsy coffee shop, sipping on my latte, as I read some deep, soul-searching book.
I have my daydreams about reading but the real-world truth is that most days go by without me ever picking up a book. I hate to admit the truth especially as someone who knows and shares the joys and importance of reading.
Here’s the truth.
We all have the same 24-hours in a day.
So, how do some people read stacks and stacks of books each year but some people struggle to read news headlines or even a single comic strip?
It comes down to making reading more books a priority and then creating habits that support that priority.
The good news is these habits are not hard to form and you will read more books too.
How to Read more Books Like a Pro: 15 Tips
1: Put Phone In a Centralized Location
Pick a good spot in your home or office where you can put your phone and keep it there. That way you don’t have your phone vying for your attention all the time. Leave the ringtone on and turn the notifications off.
Keeping your phone in a centralized location will help you not be distracted by constantly checking it. You will be in control when you choose to tune it. Being in control of your phone will help you read more books instead of unnecessary emails and random news stories.
2: Turn Off Social Media
We can all agree that social media is an insane time sucker. I will be the first to raise my hand when asked if social media eats too much of my time.
While keeping the phone in a centralized location helps keep social media in check, it doesn’t totally solve the problem. Social media needs to be turned off completely except for pre-determined times of the day. Otherwise, you can easily be sucked down the rabbit hole of social media with the flick of a finger.
3: Carry A Book Everywhere
Here’s a super practical one for you.
I have lost count of the number of times that I have been in a situation when I’ve had to wait an extended amount of time and so wished I had a book. It ranges from doctor offices to carpool lines to terrible stopped traffic.
In just about every one of those situations, I have thought to myself, “I bet I could have finished that book by now if I only had it with me!! Dadgonnit!!”
It is a very common sight to see people whip out their phones in these kinds of waiting scenarios. Why is that? Because their phones are always available!
What if we always had a book available instead?
You could carry a book in your purse if it’s big enough or you could just keep the book in your car so that it’s easily retrievable in the time of need. No matter how you choose to do it, You get to read more books instead of constantly scrolling through your phone.
4: Schedule Reading Time
Put reading time into your daily calendar.
Just like you need to schedule time to get your work and exercise done, you need to schedule time to read more books.
Treat your reading time like you would treat any important engagement, like a doctor’s appointment.
You make time for things that take priority in your life. If you want to read more books like a pro then you need to schedule reading time every day.
If you have kids, you may remember the bedtime routine or at least you heard people talk about the bedtime routine and you thought what a wonderful idea it was.
One aspect that is part of almost every suggested nighttime routine is to read a book to your child.
Adults need nighttime routines too. The ritual of it helps our bodies and minds settle down to a point where sleep becomes more productive and restorative.
Start winding down about an hour before your chosen bedtime. Include cozying up with a good book and some decaffeinated beverage. Before you know it, you will be feeling some heavy eyelids and you will be reading more books.
Note: There is one warning to this tip. Be careful what book you pick for your bedtime routine. If you pick a very engaging and adventurous book then you might end up staying awake for way too long.
6: Place Books All Over Your House
Put books in strategic places all over your house so that a book is readily available at all the right moments.
Try the bedside table, coffee table, kitchen table, home office desk, inside the car, and…ahem….by the toilet or bathtub.
By having books placed all over the house you bust the excuse of not wanting to go get the book you were reading.
You also create an environment that is open and friendly to reading. By living in such an environment your desire to actually read more books will go up.
Yes, audio books do count as reading more books. Why not?
Put Audible or any other audiobook reader on your phone and load it up with great audio books.
You can sign up with Audible if you want an easy way to get buy audio books or you can check audio books out from your library. Check to see if your library offers Overdrive or Libby. You can borrow audio books for your Audible app just like you borrow books.
Play the audiobooks while driving in the car, doing housework, or exercising. These are all great times to read more books.
You can even use your Alexa to pick up where you left off in your Audible app. I have done that quite a few times while I’m cooking. “Alexa, play ‘book XYZ’.” and I am right where I left off. Easy reading.
8: Use a Kindle (or eReader)
I have recently gotten a Kindle Paperwhite and I can’t tell you why I waited so long to get one. For a very long time, I was of the opinion that I needed to hold the book and feel the book to be truly reading.
Forget that hogwash.
I have been reading more books so much ever since I got my Kindle.
It fits perfectly in my purse so I always have a few books with me.
My Kindle syncs up with my Audible app so that I can be listening to the audiobook version and then effortlessly switch over to the ebook version and vice versa without missing a word.
I can easily switch between books with the flip of a finger.
Having Kindle has helped me kill the notion that I have to read a book to completion before I start the next one.
I can read my Kindle in the dark. All I have to do is dim the lights to a more comfortable glow for my eyes.
If you are a Prime Member on Amazon you can “borrow” awesome books curated by Amazon editors through their Prime Reading program. You can borrow up to 10 books at a time. And there is no limit on how long you can borrow them. This is a great way to add to your book pile without actually taking up space in your house.
9: Reading Apps
There are some other great reading apps you can have on your phone. It is better to just put the phone down but we do live in a time when phones are always around. Why not redeem that time with some good reading too.
Serial Reader takes those books (often public domain) and breaks them up into serials. You subscribe to a book and you get a notice every day saying that day’s serial is available. Each serial takes twenty minutes or less to read. Day by day, bit by bit, you will get that awesome class book read. And it’s free.
If you don’t have a physical Kindle, you can still have the Kindle App. For years I used the Kindle app for all my eBook needs. I have read countless books this way and most of them for free by taking advantage of sales and giveaways.
There are countless other apps in the Play Store or App Store you can check out to fit your needs.
10: Schedule Reading Dates
Are you an introvert like me? But, you still love to meet up with close friends and family members.
Schedule a reading date with your favorite reading buddy. Meet up at a coffee shop, bookstore, or library and read together.
This way you are being social and reading more books. It’s a win-win situation!!
11: Set up Reading Challenges
Are you competitive? Are you one to compete with other people or are you one to compete with yourself?
No matter your flavor of competition, reading challenges are a great way to get your blood going and read more books.
You can challenge your friends to read a certain number of books in a given amount of time. Or, challenge them to books from a certain book list.
If you like running solo then consider challenging yourself in the same way.
GoodReads puts on a great challenge every year. On January 1, you set a number of books you desire to read in that calendar year. Pick an easily achievable number of books or pick a stretch number. Whatever your circumstances are you can challenge yourself to read more books.
12: Join a Book Club or Start Your Own
Joining a book club provides group accountability and fun to reading.
It is no fun showing up for book club having not read the book.
Book clubs also provide a new level of understanding to the book as you discuss and hear other peoples thoughts on the book.
13: Track Your Progress
Keep a log of some sort of all your reading.
It is so encouraging to see your reading list grow and grow as you read more books.
Again, GoodReads is an excellent app for tracking your progress. Not only can you keep track of what books you have read you can also keep track of books you want to read as you find them. There have been many times I have been in a library or bookstore and I see a book I want to read. All I have to do is scan the ISBN number and it’s added to my want to read list.
14: Only Read Books You Enjoy
Please do not give into the notion that you have to read books just because they are classics or famous.
It is a simple truth that if you are not enjoying a book then you will take forever reading it. And that is not how you read more books. It is possible to even end up resenting that book.
Do yourself a favor and focus only on books you actually enjoy.
And it is perfectly OKAY to stop a book halfway through. Stop wasting your time and energy believing you have to always finish a book.
Reading is supposed to be enjoyed not suffered.
You have all the tools you need to make reading more books a priority this year. I know it can be hard at times. We are all busy but we also all have the same 24 hours a day. With the proper habits we can all shift our focus back into books.
First, I never felt like I had anything important to talk about.
So, a lot of the time I was flying off the seat of my pants. I know I usually have plenty to say but for some reason, I didn’t want to talk about those kinds of things on camera. Is it a good thing to talk about controversial stuff? Is it worth the potential backlash? That’s the big question.
Second, I was frustrated by the lack of interest or involvement.
Sometimes I would post on my FB page that I was going LIVE and no one who would sign on and watch LIVE. Nor did very many people watch the replays.
Why did that bother me and why does it concern me that no one watched? Was it because I find confidence or affirmation in other people seeing me and praising me?
What is the root of this issue?
I think what this BE SEEN Challenge showed me was that I really do hold on to other people’s opinions too tightly. The fact that my motivation to do LIVE videos started going way down when I saw no one was signing on days on end is very telling. The fact that my desire to write went way down is extremely telling. My desire to write and pour myself into this blog suffered quite a bit this month and I am blaming the BE SEEN Challenge.
I am not saying this past challenge was a bad one. It was a big WIN. I can see now why I felt prompted to do this challenge and why I was so hesitant to do it. Something inside me knew it could get ugly even if I couldn’t quite articulate the specifics of it.
Was the BE SEEN Challenge enjoyable?
No. Not even a little bit. I confess I would try so hard every single day to justify not doing my video. I would feel better after the video as done and think, “Well, that wasn’t so bad.” And then I would start thinking about how no one signed on. I would go back and see if anyone watched the recording. Most of my videos have zero views. Then I would go down the rabbit hole, wondering WHY no one signed on. It just got nasty from there.
(You are welcome to go back to my Facebook page and watch the full series. I have them labeled by the day. You can experience what I’m talking about. I am not embarrassed. This has been a good process and I’m willing to share.)
Was the BE SEEN Challenge worth it?
Absolutely. It showed me where I have some root issues that need to be sorted out. That is a good thing. It will be deep soul work but I have no doubt it will be well worth the hard work. My writing will be so much better for it.
Moving on to the October challenge: Challenge Number Three
October is the Less Scrolling, More Reading Challenge.
I love reading and I love reading a wide range of material. However, there is this nasty habit of scrolling on my phone when I settle down for the night. While I tell myself I should reach for a book, I almost always reach for my phone for that one last look at what’s going on in the e-mail, news, social media, etc. Next thing I know it is time for bed and I have never picked up a book.
I hate that I miss out on so much good reading because I’m mindlessly scrolling. Rarely is there anything worth remembering when I’m scrolling and not reading.
So, I have issued myself a challenge to do less scrolling and more reading in October.
I have gone through quite a number of scenarios of how to do this challenge. One was to challenge myself to a certain number of books and another was to make it more of a social media fast that focused on reading. Both are good options.
After last month’s BE SEEN Challenge and everything that I uncovered from that, I need a challenge that is a bit more open and less daunting. I also have another very big challenge coming up in November.
Here are the details of the Less Scrolling, More Reading Challenge (October: Challenge 3)
Keep my phone in one place all day. You could even call it “phone jail”. I will keep the ringer on but turn off all the other notifications.
Only use social media when on my laptop instead of on my phone.
Turn off social media apps on phone.
Carry reading material wherever I go via regular book or Kindle so that reading is available at all times.
Pick up my Kindle or book in every situation I would otherwise use my phone for entertainment.
Set aside specific reading time each day (ex. in the evening after dinner or while waiting for my son to get out of an activity.)
I don’t really have a specific number of books in mind I want to read this month. I just want to know how much I am capable of reading when the distractions are minimal.
I will keep up with accountability on my Facebook Page and Instagram. At the end of the month, I will report on what books I read and what I think of them.
I am pretty dang excited about this challenge.
I have been wanting to really focus on reading and this gives me the perfect excuse to do it.
How are you with your reading? Do you get plenty of reading each day? Do you wish you could do more?
Join me in the Less Scrolling, More Reading Challenge!!!!
It is time for Challenge #3 of the Year of 30-Day Challenges!!! This month is all about reading and how many books we can read when not scrolling on our phones.
PASTE It is time for Challenge #3 of the Year of 30-Day Challenges!!! This month is all about reading and how many books we can read when not scrolling on our phones.
Is It Even Possible to Write a Great Blog Post Without Losing Your Soul?
It is an all too common scene in my blogging journey. I sit down to write a great blog post and I can almost instantly feel the battle. There is tension between the desire to write what is truly resonating in my heart and to write what will be popular with readers and create a lot of page views and maybe even a little income.
I sigh and start writing. I am not immune to the pull of the world, to write what is popular and what I know will create the most page views. I also have this intense desire to write from my heart and to write what I believe I am supposed to write. The problem is that what I want to write is often not what is popular in the Google searches and the Pinterest Boards.
Thankfully, I have come to the place where I can do both. I can write a great blog post while staying true to myself. Do want to know my secret?
You can read all kinds of blogs about blogging. Blogs about blogging are definitely the thing to do these days. You can learn about traffic, seo, images, proper writing, social media, etc.
I can tell you that what people really really want from your blog is to hear from YOU. They want authenticity. They want vulnerability. Trust me, readers these days can smell fake from a mile away. They want real and they want the truth.
So, how do you write a great blog post that people will want to read while not losing your soul?
I have written quite a bit about the importance of a daily writing habit. I confess I am definitely not perfect at keeping this a priority. I slip away for a few days at a time or even a few weeks at a time. I can tell you that my writing suffers greatly when I am not writing on a daily basis.
Set a goal to write for a certain about of time or a certain number of words each day. Then sit down and just start writing. Write whatever comes to your mind. It does not have to make sense. It does not have to flow.
Just start writing….and don’t stop until you are done for the day. Stop when you reach your goal or just keep writing if you are really on a role.
Why in the world did you even start this whole blogging thing anyway? Lord knows blogging is not a get rich quick scheme. It can take a very long time to be really noticed. Not only that, blogging is HARD. There is a big learning curve and it is a job that never sleeps.
There has to be a really big reason for doing something so hard. That reason is your WHY.
What is that WHY?
Is it to spread an important message that is weighing heavy on your heart?
Do you have a cause that is super important to you?
Do you want to make money to help support your family?
Do you want to make money so you can donate to a very important cause to you?
If you stay in touch with your WHY and you remind yourself of it daily, it will come through in your writing. Your voice will be heard and your message will be told.
To Write A Great Blog Post is to be Focused
Turn off the gosh darn social media and other distractions. Turn it all off when you are doing your daily writing and when you are writing your blog post.
I am easily distracted. I’ll be writing right along and then I randomly click over to Facebook or Instagram or Twitter or YouTube. Next thing I know I am indulging in cute puppy videos or reading the comments on some overly funny or controversial post. I fall down the rabbit hole and when I finally climb out of the hole who knows how much time has been wasted. My focus is gone.
Focus is one thing but if I allow myself to go down some rabbit holes I end up losing my focus on what’s really important. My emotions get all riled up and there goes my focus, my voice, and my message. I get wrapped up in other people’s business and lose the importance of what I was trying to write.
Stay focused. How do I stay focused?
Promise yourself to STAY OFF social media, news sites, cute puppy/kitten sites, etc. Just Say No.
Promising yourself doesn’t work? Okay. Install a time management blocker program on your computer. These type programs block unnecessary programs and websites during pre-determined times of the day. Even if you can’t help clicking over the program blocks the site and you can’t get access. You can find all kinds of free programs that serve this purpose.
Can you hack your way past all the blocks of your blocker programs like me? Okay. Go Nuclear.
Install a program like Cold Turkey Writer. I am writing this blog post right now through Cold Turkey Writer. Y’all, this program is epic. CTW literally shuts down everything on your computer for a certain amount of time or until a certain number of words are written. I have tried to hack out of this program and I can’t. I’m stuck. I’m stuck as I write these words. I currently have the program set to 30 minutes. I won’t be able to do anything else on my laptop until those 30 minutes are over. I might as well be writing this post!!
A great blog post is one that written from a place of vulnerability. How do you get your message across? You get it across by being vulnerable and telling your story.
Have you noticed how much people love stories from people who are willing to tell everything, the good the bad and the ugly? That’s because people like REAL.
Being vulnerable will help your special and unique voice come out. Being vulnerable will give credibility to your message. Being vulnerable will help keep your WHY alive.
I have learned through experience that when I close the doors to my vulnerability my writing suffers greatly. It becomes fake and cold and doesn’t even flow. You can sense the lies through the page. I eventually lose the actual desire to write and oftentimes stop writing altogether.
Once I allow the doors to open and I am willing to enter the arena put myself out there, my writing takes off. I can’t keep my fingers still. That calling to write comes back to life.
Always be appropriately vulnerable with your audience. Be a person who struggles and celebrates. Allow your readers to enter into your world. Show them the real you. be real and true. And your readers will thank you for it by coming back over and over again.
A Great Blog Post Does Not Check Itself.
I know that one of the most frustrating parts of writing for a blog is making sure everything flows and reads nicely. If the writing is poor then readers will pop right off your site in one flick of a lamb’s tail. Trust me I know about this. I am that reader.
Even if you do your daily writing, remember your WHY, stay focused, write with authenticity and vulnerability, your blog post still needs to be readable. Punctuation, grammar, and flow all have to be considered carefully. It all matters if you write a very formal post or a very friendly and casual post.
That’s why I have become best friends with Grammarly.
Oh my goodness. Grammarly saves me day in and day out. You can install Grammarly on your computer, as a Chrome Extension, and on Microsoft Word. I have it set up for Chrome and with Word.
Grammarly is like having a proofreader and editor in your back pocket. He is with you every time you sit down to write. You can choose to pay attention to his corrections or ignore them.
I am a pretty good proofreader and editor in my own right. I was raised by an English major and a professional proofreader who never let bad writing leave the house. I am also not perfect and I always need help.
Grammarly proofreads as I write. I can see my mistakes as I go along. I can choose to fix right then or I can choose to fix all the mistakes when I’m done writing.
Grammarly forces me to think about how I am writing. For example, Grammarly hates passive voice. Well, I shouldn’t be using the passive voice anyway so I am grateful for the reminder.
I confess I can be a rather lazy writer. I just want to write my heart’s thoughts and push publish. That isn’t fair to my readers and that isn’t fair to myself. Grammarly does not allow for lazy writing. If I am being lazy about it then Grammarly will let me know, politely.
Just remember, though. Grammarly does not do your work for you.
You will still need to read your writing and make your own adjustments. Grammarly makes suggestions, albeit good ones, and you can choose to use them or not.
Grammarly does not and can not know my unique voice and funny little sayings. That’s okay. It isn’t fool-proof and doesn’t claim to be. Grammarly is a breath of fresh air and a trusted friend. I can count on Grammarly to give suggestions to make my writing better. If I take the suggestion that’s totally awesome. If I don’t take the suggestion because it really doesn’t go along with my voice then that’s okay too. We’re still friends. Grammarly can handle the rejection.
You CAN do this!! You have the tools to write a great blog post that people want to read without losing WHO you are.
Writing a chapter of Scripture a day has been a wonderful and challenging experience. I found a groove that worked well for me. I put a bunch of college-ruled paper on a clipboard and kept it on my desk at all times. The YouVersion Bible website stayed open on one of my monitors. (I have a laptop on a stand and connected to a bigger screen so that I don’t have to squint quite so much when I’m working at my desk.) This arrangement allowed for me to easily come to my scripture copying whenever I wanted.
I think it goes without saying that finishing the write a chapter of scripture a day challenge was not a perfect finish. I did miss some days. At first, it bothered me and then I reminded myself how I said to give yourself grace in this challenge. It was okay. The beauty of having my paper and pen ready all the time is that I can always return to it whenever I want to.
Lessons Learned From Scripture Copying Challenge
The most unpleasant thing that came from the first challenge is when I realized on some days that I hadn’t even started writing Scripture until the afternoon. My first thought was almost always, “Darn! I haven’t started yet. And I still have so much left to do today!!” I kid you not. I’m not proud of it. When I had these thoughts I would force myself to stop and consider why I was having those thoughts.
And then I would remind myself that time spent in the Word is ALWAYS worth it no matter how busy I may feel. And then I would put everything else that needed attention aside and copied Scripture. It was tough. Sometimes I felt like a spoiled, entitled child. “But, I don’t waaaannnnnaaaaaa……!” I saw some of the ugly in me and that is what God wanted me to see. I am so grateful for His grace and forgiveness.
Where will I go from here with this challenge? I have learned that I do love copying Scripture by hand. I have even had visions of writing the entire Bible out by hand. But, I have also learned that I need a much more manageable pace. I will continue to keep my clipboard on the desk and write down verses as I have this whole month. I will take it one chapter, one book, at a time. There won’t be a number of verses per day goal but a goal to write something each day. Creating a solid habit of writing Scripture out by hand has proven extremely beneficial for me. I love how it slows me down and it grounds me in this crazy life, even when I don’t catch every word I write down.
Have you been doing a Scripture Writing challenge? If so, comment and let me know how it has been going.
Address an area of my life that I know could use major improvement but I’m either too lazy or too scared to work on it.
Force me to dig deep in mind and soul to finish it.
Be something new or it can be something I’ve attempted many times before with little to no success.
Require that I drop the ego, be humble, and be teachable in order to gain every bit of goodness and insight out of it.
I knew I chose a good challenge that fit the above criteria when I noticed how I was horribly procrastinating writing this post. It has been epic procrastinating. It seemed like EVERTHING was way Important than writing this post. I would tell myself, “Tomorrow. I will write it tomorrow.” Yeah, okay. Tomorrow never comes. I am really, REALLY good at giving myself excuses.
A few days ago, I found myself justifying not writing, and committing to, this post and I forced myself to stop and question my reasoning. I knew I was afraid to write this because I was afraid of the actual challenge. And for that reason, I KNEW that this has to be my next challenge.
So, what’s the second 30-Day Challenge in the Year of 30-Day Challenges?
Here’s the thing. As much as I love to write and have my words read I really do not like being on camera. I’m not a big fan of having my picture taken nor do I like being filmed. I confess I am the mom who is always the one who takes the photos but tries to bow out when someone else tells me to get in the picture. If I see someone filming I will go hide in a corner.
I guess you could say I like to hide behind my keyboard and computer screen.
For most of my childhood, I was called “shy.” That was said about me and to me. And those are words I took as truth and I internalized them. For that reason, I struggled in social situations.
Words have power. Words that are said to us can become who we are if we let them. Not knowing better I did indeed become what was said to me. It wasn’t just that I am shy. Words such as “ugly, “not worthy,” “dumb,” etc. etc. etc. You get the idea. For all those reasons I have avoided being seen.
That needs to stop.
I am worthy of being seen.
I am worthy of being known.
So, here’s the challenge I am giving myself for Month Two of the Year of 30-Day Challenges.
I will take the weekends OFF to recuperate. That is unless I have something special I want to say.
I’m not really sure what I’m going to say. It will probably be whatever is on my heart that particular day.
I am not sure about specific times of day that I will go LIVE but I will most likely do a small post alerting everyone.
This challenge is all about pushing through the barriers I have for actually being SEEN and not just read.
I welcome anyone and everyone to join me in this challenge!!!
You can choose to go LIVE on your FB page, personal profile, Instagram, etc. If that is too much then maybe consider taking a selfie each day and posting it. (You could use the hashtag #beseen). And if being seen on social media is too much where you are right now, and that’s okay, then maybe take a picture and send it to a friend or even me!! You choose!!!
Let me know if you want to do this with me!! I’d love to have some company!!
The BE SEEN challenge is all about, well, being seen.
Why be seen? Because you are WORTHY of being seen. You, and I, matter!!!!
I also need to be reminded of this sometimes and that is why I’m doing the BE SEEN challenge.
Sometimes your Bible Study needs a little sprucing up. Maybe you want to try something new. Have you seen all the Scripture Writing Resources and plans on Pinterest? I have come to really love and enjoy the process of copying the Bible by hand. Sometimes I follow a plan provided by someone else and sometimes I just write my way through an entire book.
Here I provide a large collection of Scripture Writing Resources to save you time and effort in finding the perfect plan to start your journey. You will see plans for writing out entire books of the Bible, topical plans, and general knowledge articles on the practice of Scripture Writing. Bookmark this page and come back when you are ready for the next plan! Enjoy!
I confess I got up on July 30 a little bit on the anxious and hesitant side. The thoughts kept coming that I was such a fool for signing myself up to do this HUGE challenge of my own creation. Not only was I about to embark on a time-consuming journey of handwriting Scripture one chapter at a time for at least 30 days straight but I was I was also committing to do eleven more challenges. What in the freakin’ world am I doing to myself? When I went to bed on Sunday I was so close to throwing in the towel and backing out of the whole thing before I even started.
Then I was reminded that the whole point of this next year is to pick areas of my life that need work and dedicate a month (or 30 days) to intense focus in that area.
Confession: A big area that needs work is my tendency to start big projects and never completing them. You could say this whole year is about addressing that one big area in my life. In fact, I am currently reading Jon Acuff’s book, Finish, to address this very thing. I’m so glad I found that book because it is offering relief knowing I am not alone in this tendency and it is offering direction on how to move away from it.
What are my initial thoughts on the Hand Copying Scripture Challenge after one week?
Writing a full chapter of Scripture in one sitting is a bit too much. My hand cramps up and the words eventually start to run together.
What I have found to work very well is to write about five verses at a time.
I sit down and write five verses and then I go and do something else.
At first, I thought this would mess up the devotional side of the practice.
In reality, I am finding that breaking the chapter up throughout the day is proving to be amazingly comforting.
Breaking the chapter up means I get to return to Scripture at various times throughout the day. I don’t have one devotional time in the morning. I get to meet back up with the Word all day long.
It should go as no surprise that oftentimes I find myself returning to my seat to copy Bible verses when I need it the most.
Breaking up my writing time into five verse increments allow for random schedule changes. It is much easier to get it down when things don’t go as planned.
I guess you could say the first week of writing the Bible out by hand has gone well. There have already been some surprises but overall they have been good surprises.
But, why would someone want to embark on a journey to hand copy Scripture when there are already countless Bibles out there in print and on electronic devices?
Well, there are plenty of benefits to hand copying scripture that make it well worth the effort.
Practical Benefits of Hand Copying Scripture
From a personal point of view, I remember that when I was in college I found that handwriting my notes was key to my performance on my exams. I would handwrite all my notes during the lectures and then I would rewrite them, usually in many different colors, while studying for exams. While this process was seemingly laborious, it proved to work quite well and I usually did quite well on exams when I followed this process. There were times when I did not want to follow this process out of laziness and as expected, I never did as well on those exams.
My personal experience seems to be supported by science. An article in Lifehacker talks about a part of the brain called the Reticular Activating System that is engaged by handwriting. It says, “The RAS acts as a filter for everything your brain needs to process, giving more importance to the stuff that you’re actively focusing on that moment – something that the physical act of writing brings to the forefront.” Basically, the act of handwriting is triggering your brain to wake up and pay attention to what you are writing. In so doing you retain the information much better.
Anti-Aging For The Brain
The process of handwriting basically provides a workout for the brain. Physical exercise provides anti-aging benefits for the body as a whole. So, it makes sense that exercise for the brain would have the same benefits. By utilizing a combination of motor skills, memory, and cognitive processing, handwriting exercises the brain in a way that a keyboard does not.
Writing By Hand is Meditative and Forces You to Slow Down
There is a rhythm to handwriting once you get moving along. That rhythm can be very meditative and contemplative if you allow it to be and in so doing you can quiet your mind and find peace in the process.
Hand copying Scripture, handwriting in a journal, or even copying down notes from a book forces you to slow down so that you don’t miss any important details. In a world that is constantly moving at a warp speed, it is definitely beneficial to our minds and emotional states to slow down even if for just a few minutes a day.
Since you are already engaging your brain in more ways than just reading, hand copying Scripture helps you meet with God on a new and different level. You are reading the words of the Bible, processing them in your mind, and then tangibly interacting with them as you write them down on paper. You can notice nuances in the Scripture as you slow down your reading and gain deeper insights. In so doing, you retain what you read for much longer in your mind and in your heart.
Deeper Appreciation For God’s Word
By spending more time reading and processing God’s Word through hand copying you can’t help but gain a deeper appreciation for what’s written. You are spending so much time with the words allowing you really think about the context and the meaning of those words. All that time spent writing also grows your respect and deepen your love for God’s word. And as your appreciation for God’s Word deepens your daily life is changed in all areas.
By developing a daily practice of hand copying Scripture you leaving a legacy of faith for those who come after you. Imagine your children watching you as you diligently copy the Bible by hand. They are seeing you spend precious time in this huge undertaking in so doing they are seeing how important your Faith is to you. You are also creating an actual copy of the Bible bit by bit in your own unique handwriting. Imagine how precious a handwritten copy of the Bible would be to your loved ones after you passed away. You aren’t just deepening your faith through copying Scripture; you are creating a legacy of Faith for generations to come.
Have you created a habit of copying Scripture? What books are you copying? Or, what topics are you focusing on? Tell me in the comments!!
The goal of the Handwriting Scripture challenge is to copy a full chapter of your choice every day for the duration of the 30-day challenge.
I have decided to copy Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, and Philippians and you are welcome to join me in that focus. You are also welcome to pick whatever books and chapters you believe will benefit you the most. You could focus on specific books like I am or focus on topics that you want to learn more about.
Make sure you download the Habit Tracker and Chapter Tracker I provide for this challenge
As we get started handwriting scripture together I thought it would be appropriate to share the best tips for getting the most out of this practice.
Choose Special Materials to Make Handwriting Scripture Special
Pick out a nice notebook and a nice pen that you can dedicate to this challenge.
The actual materials ultimately don’t matter. What matters is that the materials are items that will make your practice more special.
Go ahead and buy a new journal and a new pen if you have space in your budget to do that.
Since I really don’t want to spend extra money for this year of 30-day challenges, I just grabbed a 3-ring binder from our homeschool stash and added some college-ruled paper and dividers. I also grabbed some colored pens because writing in multiple colors brings me such joy.
Make it special and meaningful. You are going to spend a lot of time in that notebook. Make it approachable and comforting
What are you going to use for handwriting Scripture this month?
Pick a Quiet and Comfortable Spot
Choose a place in your house that you can return to each day that is quiet and comfortable.
I have chosen to sit at our breakfast room table while I am handwriting my chapter each day. While the couch is super, duper cozy I know that I won’t be in the best position for good handwriting. And to be honest, I will also be tempted to lie down with my favorite blanket.
The breakfast room table is perfect because the room is well lit in the mornings and I have plenty of space to spread out all my materials, including my mug of coffee.
Consider keeping all your handwriting Scripture materials in that spot every day so that you don’t have to go looking for them when your time to copy comes.
Where will you be handwriting Scripture? Dining room table? Desk? Couch?
Make a Daily Appointment
Pick a time during the day when you know you can be consistent in your daily Scripture handwriting practice.
Once you pick that time, create an appointment in your calendar.
Treat that block of time as seriously as you would treat a doctor’s appointment. I don’t know about you but I rarely miss a doctor’s appointment. They can be so hard to come by that I don’t miss one unless there is a serious reason to cancel.
I give my workouts the same treatment. I create uncancellable appointments in my calendar and rarely do I miss those workouts.
If I can treat my workouts that seriously then I know I can do the same when it comes to spending time in Scripture.
I am choosing to do my copying in the morning right after breakfast. More times than not my husband has left for work and my son hasn’t quite gotten out of bed yet. The dog is walked and the house is nice and quiet. I can spend time in the Word before the rush of the day gets started.
What is the best time for you?
Slow Down and Take Your Time
I know that time is a precious commodity for most of us.
But, I can’t stress enough the importance of taking as much time as you can to absorb every word that you are writing.
Slow down as you are writing. Read and re-read what you are writing.
Confirm that your copying is accurate to the Bible you are writing from.
While the surface goal of this challenge is to write a chapter every day for 30 days, the ultimate goal is to spend time every day deep in God’s Word.
Enjoy the process. Savor the practice.
Don’t get caught up in having to power through so you can check that box.
Check your heart.
And that leads us to the next tip.
Give Yourself Grace
I know this challenge is going to be, well, a challenge.
In our busy and technological lives, handwriting Scripture can be hard. Throw in handwriting a full chapter every day and it got even harder.
I am not embarking on this challenge lightly.
It is going to be hard. I can foresee the first few days of this challenge being pretty easy. I’ll be excited with anticipation. I’ve planned for this, by golly!
And probably by about Day 5 or so, it will start getting hard and each day after that will get progressively harder. The weekends will be the toughest because I will be out of my weekday routine.
Listen, I understand if life happens and you miss your appointment. There’s grace.
If all you can do is a few verses one day, there’s grace.
If all you can do is read or listen to the chapter, there’s grace.
I am doing this challenge because I know I need some hardcore time in the Word and I know I learn best when I write things down.
Why are you doing this challenge?
Finally, PRAY Before You Start
When you sit down to start handwriting Scripture take a moment to close your eyes, take some deep breathes, and slow down your mind. Pray for God’s guidance as you are handwriting His Word.
Be present and listen.
Pray so that you can be in a good place to hear and learn from the words you are copying.
I do believe that you would benefit from handwriting Scripture even if you were in a tizzy as you did it. That’s how awesome God’s Word is.
But, if you want to zap all the goodness out of this practice you want to be in a good place mentally and ready to receive.
Are you ready?
Grab your Bible, notebook, pen, and a good attitude. Let’s get started on our journey to write through the Bible.
You can follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for more updates as I do this challenge. And don’t forget to grab your freebies to help you along the way and receive weekly encouragement in your email inbox during this challenge.