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2021 Creative Writing Challenge Reflections

January 4, 2022

I like a good challenge, but this one surpassed my expectations. Firstly, I am immensely proud of myself for finishing the challenge before the end of the year. It was a very real challenge considering the time off I took while taking my writing class. Secondly, I am eternally grateful to everyone for discovering, following along, and showing your support for all of my crazy ideas. It’s fun and rewarding knowing that other people are enjoying things I am creating.

I’d like to share a couple of thoughts I generated throughout the year related to yearly challenges, to writing, and more generally to the creative process.

  • I was surprised at the joy writing brought. Even when I felt like I didn’t have time to do my weekly prompt, once I got into a flow state, writing made me feel better about life. I think finding something that brings you joy is important, and I was surprised about the amount of joy I found with this project.
  • The Flow state is real. I used to make fun of my husband because he’d forget to eat lunch when he was engrossed in a coding project, but I get it now. To get lost in a project is a magic I hope everyone gets to experience.
  • Make time to do things that bring you joy. Seriously, carve out time and make it a habit. I told my husband at the beginning of the year that I would be busy for at least three hours every Sunday, and that it was non-negotiable. He understood how important this project was to me, so he enjoyed watching movies and shows each Sunday and left me to my own devices.
  • Being creative is hard, so set yourself up for success. I created ALL my weekly prompts before the year started, which took some of the creative burden off myself each week. I tried to make the prompts varied, but obviously I picked topics that I thought would be enjoyable and/or challenging.
  • When I was a teacher, I always told my students to practice being uncomfortable with challenging information or assignments. There were several times this year that I pushed back at that notion with prompts I didn’t want to write, times I had no idea what to write, or when I wrote about difficult topics. It’s really hard to confront challenging things and it takes a lot of practice to be comfortable being uncomfortable. I feel strongly that we should be teaching our youth (and everyone else) the tools and strategies to do this successfully.
  • To my inner editor, I say “&^#* you”. There were so many times I wrote something and hated it in the moment. It wasn’t good enough. It didn’t make sense. No one would like it. I learned to take a deep breath and just walk away. Ninety percent of the time, when I revisited my work the next day, I was surprised at how much I liked what I’d written. Sometimes our writing needs time and perspective.
  • I haven’t told many people this, but when I was in middle school I really thought I was going to be a writer. I wrote in a journal frequently and I even wrote thirteen pages of my great adventure novel and printed it out in a cringe-worthy cursive font. My serious writing aspirations fizzled with over-analytical english classes in high school and college, but I still designed an independent study creative writing class for myself in high school and dove into scientific writing in college. When I first started thinking about leaving my teaching job I was scared because I didn’t know what else I would do, but in the back of my mind there was this little voice whispering, “You could do it, you could at least try it.” The voice kept getting louder and louder, so I created this challenge for myself. I told myself that if I actually finished it, if it actually brought me joy, if people seemed to like what I wrote, that I would keep going and see where the path might take me.

So here I am, on the path, and excited to see what comes next!

8 Comments leave one →
  1. January 4, 2022 10:17 pm

    Congratulations! How did you come up with the prompts and did you randomly select weeks for them?

    • mlwattsupp permalink*
      January 6, 2022 2:46 pm

      Thanks! I googled “creative writing prompts” and then scoured the websites that came up. I picked prompts that “spoke” to me in some way (sounded fun or challenging or just weird) and copied them down on notecards. So I had my set of 52 notecards made and ready to go at the beginning of the year. Each week I randomly selected one to write. It made it really fun and challenging.

  2. March 16, 2022 12:23 pm

    This is really great – really helpful hearing your creative writing processes! I would love to try this!

    • mlwattsupp permalink*
      March 16, 2022 9:02 pm

      I would highly recommend it. It was fun and kept me writing regularly! Each week was something new! Good luck if you do try it!


  1. Challenge Accepted | Writing with Cancer

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