Strengthening the Writing Muscle
The #WritersLife witnesses one or more “serious” writing sessions on a near-daily basis (rest = rejuvenation!). Staring down a fresh sheet of paper, or a blank screen, intimidates. The go-to response typically involves writing about what you know. It’s safe, and comfortable.
Going a step beyond involves exercising untapped writing muscles: visiting the unplanned, tackling the say whaaa?!. Composing a 6-word story fulfills the mission. To pull off this feat, my first step focused on creating a daily poke.
Configuring an IFTTT Automated Prompt
The Daily Post site provides a prompt each day. I know me: despite noble intentions, the inevitable death of a habit’s honeymoon period will yield my dwindling allegiance. Wary of my likely failure t visit that site day after day, I protected me from me by reaching out to an eFriend, IFTTT.
I created an applet at IFTTT, marrying the Daily Prompt feed with my iOS.Prompts calendar. The images provide configuration specifics. The needed RSS link, reproduced here for your copy/paste ease:
- Daily Prompt:
IFTTT leads you through the two-step setup process. The “if” requires the Feed channel; the “that” involves either the Google Calendar or iOS Calendar channel. You could instead marry the Feed with EverNote, OneNote, ToDoist, a DropBox or Google Drive file, or any other channel at IFTTT. I chose the iOS calendar because:
- I’m in and out of CalenGoo, my calendar app, a few times each day. By confining the prompt to my calendar, no extra steps are required to see and digest the day’s prompt.
- Unlike Google Calendar, the parallel iOS channel empowers me. I can segregate automated cal dumps into any one of multiple sub-calendars. I prefer this level of automated organization. (UPDATE: Google Calendar now also permits calendar selection per applet.)
An addition to my Evening Routine: The 6-Word Story
Twitter sometimes alerts me to absolute gems. One, creating a 6-word story, mentally simulates raising a hefty barbell over one’s head. Add an unanticipated subject, as provided by the Daily Prompt, and the virtual weight multiplies in effect.
Folks, lemme tell ya, this one daily task coerces one heckuva massage of the creativity muscle. Many a day my eyes have fallen on the assigned prompt, sparking furrowed “ya gotta be kidding me!” brows. But the day I adopted this practice, I drew a bright red line in the sand: I will NOT be defeated by THIS mission, evahhhhhhh!
A recurring Reminders pops up every day at 2p, telling me to “see prompt.” At 7p, a second Reminder grabs my attention in similar fashion: Start Evening Routine.
✧︎︎︎ Indulging my Evening Routine
After completing other aspects of my evening routine, I opening both my digital and bullet journal calendars. Task #1 = absorbing the prompt, housed digitally. Task #2 sees me diving into my bullet journal. I review the day, studying open checkboxes, notes, and tasks in my Daily Logs. Task #3: elevate 2-4 entries to MIT status for the next day (Most Important Task).
Tasks continue as I add a Frixion-pen color code to certain entries, designed to call my attention during subsequent review sessions. Color is also applied to the day’s “The Reality” time blocks (live timebars as I work), which I compare with “The Plan” timeBlocks created during my Morning Routine. The result tells me the degree of my diligence/productivity.
Leaving the desk with Darby Klan (cockatiel) enjoying his limo ride on Mommie’s shoulder limo, we ascend the staircase. Once in the master bedroom, the second Phase of the Evening Routine unfolds.
Alexa responds to my request for a Motown playlist as I enter the shower. DarbyKlan chirps atop the shower bar as I do my thing. Soon, I prop up in bed, DK on my shoulder. We check out the magic word/phrase/prompt of the day yet again. I close my eyes, imagining cartoon-like smoke bubbles arising from my head as I feverishly try to conjure a 6-word story.
✧︎︎︎ My Plan of Attack: Incorporating the Prompt into a 6 Word Story
To get my mental juices flowing, I run through every word rhyming with the prompt. On good nights, the two words gift bookends. I turn on the tv briefly, hungry for a random action verb. With verb in hand to massage the rhyming bookend words, I complete the tried-to-beat-me-up-eh 6-word story.
On dicey nights, I remind myself of the vow to never give up. My night transforms into a warped mini homage to June Cleaver. I jump from the bed and beeline to the über convenient SwiftJet mop. I attach a wet sheet, turning my attention to the wood floor. History schooled me: physical activity dislodges mental blocks (sigh… hubby works the night shift). 6-word stories have been known to spring to life as I run the wet mop under the bed. This night yields no exception. I rush to grab my bullet journal, anxious to add the latest yeah babyyyyy to my 6-word-story Log. Then, I complete my nod to the housework gods.
I perch DK, climb under the covers, ask Alexa to resume the Audible book in play this week, have her turn off the lights, then close my eyes.
Bonus: My head hits the pillow with a two-fold feeling of genuine accomplishment:
- This woman, who loathes all-things-housework, performed a household chore —withOUT staring down a firing squad.
- Links in my massage-creativity chain remain live, thanks to this day’s completed 6-word story.
- And boom! A new idea for a blog post blossoms. 😉