Photo credit: Fabrizio Verrecchia on Unsplash

I didn’t make it. And I couldn’t be happier

How the 52-Week Challenge transformed my public voice

I didn’t hit it 52 times last year, but the Writing Cooperative’s first 52-Week Challenge was transformational for my writing and my public voice. To be fair, my 2017 Challenge was more like a 44-weeker. As I posted in the Slack channel mid-December:

Can I make it to 52? YES! (or, ahhh, you know, maybe?)

I signed up for the Challenge on January 9th. Yep — I sat on the decision for a week after the throw down, before making my public declaration:

I thought my posts would be from the book I was writing. And that happened. But so did so much more. Along with excerpts from the book came other writing about parenting and learning, as well as pieces about yoga, and even writing! Poetry even showed back up.

My writing expanded as I committed more and more deeply to it.

When I signed on to the Challenge I had no idea what I was in for. But I was certain that making the commitment, publicly, to post on a regular basis was necessary for me. And I did post. Three weeks later.

That was my start — bumpy, slow, a bit hesitant even in the face of buy-in and enthusiasm. It was hard to hit publish on those first few posts. Heck, it was hard even on the next 40. That was the point.

I kept writing, and I kept posting, and each time I hit that Publish button I got a little bit closer to calling myself a writer.

I posted on Medium, and I learned

As I got started, I asked my husband to proofread every post before I published it, needing to have at least one other set of eyes on my writing before releasing it to the world.

I tried sharing my Challenge posts with my facebook friends, and on twitter.

Stella J. McKenna featured some of my posts in her Challenge highlights, and new people saw my work.

I learned about Medium’s publications, found the ones I thought would be interested in what I had written, and started submitting posts. As lots of folks will tell you, getting your writing into publications is a key pivot point, because it helps you start reaching broader audiences.

I started getting followers, and that started accelerating.

As the year progressed, I became more confident of the structure and pacing of my writing. I stopped needing reassurance before hitting Publish.

In May I had my first post that hit over 1K readers.

I even had one big viral post during the year (happily for the Writing Cooperative!).

I kept writing. I looked at the stats Medium sent me each week, but I didn’t obsess over them.

I tried to stay on track with weekly posts, but my work on the book would sometimes sideline my Challenge pieces. I came back each time and hit it again.

And all the while, I kept working on my book. Which I published just before Christmas. It’s possible. It’s doable. And it’s definitely worth doing.

I started 2017 totally unclear what I was doing. I needed this community, and the structure of the Challenge, and the goodwill of my fellow Challenge writers. It’s been a phenomenal writing year, even coming up 8 weeks short.

So — 2018: I’m in! I will post a thing every week.

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