Over the past few years, my writing habits have been–well, honestly, they’ve been nearly non-existent. Sure, I write for work, but who doesn’t? Even if you aren’t a writing teacher like I am, chances are good you write something during your day. Me, I write volumes of feedback to my students on their essays, and on a good day, I type more emails than a Russian internet scammer during American voting season.
About three years ago, I lived through a summer that saw more publication than I’d seen during the rest of writing my career. Three magazines accepted my short stories, and three of my poems were published within two months. I even had to turn a publication down because one of my pieces had been accepted elsewhere.
That never happens, in case you’re wondering.
Since that summer, I’ve had nothing published. One reason is I’ve been getting rejected by every place I’ve sent my work. There’s also the fact that I haven’t been submitting much of anything. I know, I’m disappointed in me as you are.
There are legitimate reasons I don’t write as much now: I work more these days than I did before, or at least my day-work is more mentally demanding than it was three years ago. Not that I’m complaining. I love my job. Twenty years ago, I couldn’t have imagined I’d be making a living teaching writing and literature. It isn’t the best living, but it isn’t the worst, either, and I’m happy doing it. I’m thankful for that.
But I miss writing regularly.
Back in July of this year, I started working the New York Times crossword every day. Crosswords have always been one of my favorite forms of relaxation and mental exercise, and I’m actually pretty good at doing them. In July, though, I decided to get serious and work each day’s puzzle until I solved it, no matter how long it took. Some days–Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, mostly–it takes me around twenty minutes. The rest of the week is more challenging. Sometimes I’ll sit in my chair with my phone in hand (the NYT puzzle app is my best friend), struggling over cryptic clues for one or two hours. It’s grueling, but today, Saturday, November 17, I just hit 132 puzzles.
My point: If I can work and solve the New York Times crossword for 132 days, I can accomplish some non-required writing every day, right?
Sound like a plan?
Okay, stay tuned.