Writing, even when it’s hard to do — Carolyn R. Wilker


In January, blogger and author Jeff Goins issued a challenge to fellow writers to write 500 words a day for the month of January. He not only issued the challenge, but he also offered a list of things to write about. While I used the word count for my own projects, journalling and letter writing, I thought it might be useful to share the three questions from his list for Day 10.

This post will be more reflective than instructive, and so I urge you to write these questions out and give your own answers.

What do you love about the craft? 

I love that I can write whatever I choose. I can write a poem, a story, a how-to piece, or even a grumble about what’s not going well for me just now. And no one else needs to know. My notebook is mine alone and I can share whatever I choose. It’s a place to test out ideas and thoughts. It’s free writing at its best. Even when the piece starts with a single idea or thought, to see where the idea goes. Is it mumbo-jumbo or is there a germ of a new idea or story there?

What do you hate? 

It’s hard to say that I hate it, but some aspects do fall into the less pleasant side. I dislike it when my story lays flat on the page, the characters that seemed more lively in my imagination lie unresponsive and uninteresting. My reader finds no passion there even if I displayed an aptitude for good spelling, grammar and punctuation. That is surely more than free writing. I hate it, I could say, when a dream with lively characters disappear and I have only a slight memory of what it contained. No, I don’t think that dream will do transferred onto the page. A friend who sees her dreams in technicolour might produce a better story from her dream than I can.

What’re you struggling with, when it comes to this challenge? 

In January the challenge got off to a good start. I had a project I’d been wanting to work on for a long time, and so I got right to it. In between I blogged on my own WordPress site, then for two others, but I also had personal stuff to attend to—my life-long friend had become very ill. Some of those days were dedicated to letter writing to Rachel, our Amish friend, who had kept in touch— writing letters faithfully—all these years, since our one-room schoolhouse days, with my friend Gayleen who was, by then, in hospital and critically ill. Feeling strongly that Rachel needed to be kept informed, I made it my task one day of each week throughout Gayleen’s illness, however long it would be—to write a letter to her, by hand with pen and paper. Email and the phone were not options, but I had Rachel’s address since we went visiting a few years ago.

How does one write where so much emotion is involved? I managed it somehow, but the last letter at the end of the month was hardest to write when I had to inform my Amish friend of Gayleen’s death. There was now a missing link in our circle of friends.

Sometimes it’s difficult to write, and there’s little revision when writing on a piece of paper with a pen, but I look back and realize that those letters were probably the most important writing I did that month, for they were connecting a friend to circumstances she needed to know about, and staying in touch.

There you have it, three questions and the writing for the day. In this case, even more words than the 500. That’s what happens when you get into a routine of writing, and get into what you’re writing.

After pushing the challenge through February too, between my editing business and other aspects of my life, March would consist of more revision or rewriting, and that’s important too.


carolyn-wilkerCarolyn R. Wilker, editor, author, writing instructor and storyteller from Kitchener, Ontario, where the snowbanks are finally shrinking, eventually to reveal her garden.

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