Monthly themes

As April draws to a close, I’m starting to reflect on the 30 Day Writing Challenge. I’ve found the challenge to be hugely beneficial to my own writing practice, even though the original intent was to help inspire others to write. The daily publishing goal has been a struggle, and one I certainly underestimated at the start of the challenge. I reckon by the end of the month I’ll have written around 40,000 words—the most I’ve ever written.

A month feels about right for a challenge: it’s long enough that it’s difficult, but not so long that it’s impossible. I’ve marked each passing day on my whiteboard. There’s light at the end of the tunnel: only four more posts left.

Writing is now a natural part of my life. It’s something I just do, like eating or brushing my teeth. And it’s my favourite part of the day. After the challenge, I’ll still write every day but I haven’t decided on a publishing schedule yet. Once a week sounds like a reasonable target.

Which lead me to ask: what next?

There’s so many things I’d like to explore and do: meditation and mindfulness, improve my knowledge of JavaScript, improve my health and diet, start running, climb the local leagues at my squash club, start journaling, write a book, learn a language, not to mention all the places I’d like to visit. I know I’m not unique in having an ever growing list of things to do.

The problem is, our time, energy, and attention are finite. I can’t do all of those things at once, nor am I interested in trying to do that. 30DWC has taught me the power of having a single focus for a month.

I then had an idea: what if I was to pick a monthly theme? That way, I’d have a full month to research a topic, experiment, challenge myself, and try to build a habit. If it sticks after the month, great. If it doesn’t, at least I’ll have learnt from the experience.

30DWC was an intense challenge, requiring between 2-4 hours of writing per day. But monthly themes don’t have to be as full-on. I can tweak and adjust based on my schedule and how much I want to push myself.

For the month of May, the theme will be meditation. It’s something I’ve haphazardly approached a handful of times, but it requires daily practice. My goal for the month is to simply meditate on a daily basis. I’m not setting time limits or rules. I’ll experiment and figure out things as I go, with the hope that I can implement meditation into my daily routine.

I plan on reading Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world which has been on my bedside table, untouched, for well over a year. I’ll also read A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled by Ruby Wax, and I’ll likely be using Headspace after hearing many recommendations from friends.

In theory, a monthly theme seems like a good way of focusing my energy and attention on a particular area of interest. We’ll see how it goes in practice.

(Fellow 30DWCer Andy Henson wrote a great post on making meditation a habit, which inspired May’s theme.)