Shortly before the start of 2018, I challenged myself to a “New Year’s Resolution” I found actually attainable: to write 3 creative lines every single day. I define “creative” as anything outside of my regular journaling practice, which is certainly important in my own healing, but I wanted a more intentional ritual. (Last year, I attempted the 52 essays in 2017 and only completed 14).
I was excited for the challenge, but as a first-time parent, concerned about my ability to keep up with it. As of today, July 18, 2018, I have remembered #3lines2018 every single day. For someone dubbed “Forgetful Jones” by their mother as a child, I am proud of myself!
I started out quite literally — only 3 lines per day, such as:
“good, i now know where it came from.
but — how do i get rid of it?
And as I progress further into the year, I often write things that feel like complete pieces, short of revision:
an ant crawled along the divide
in my notebook today, in search of a word to taste.
i will take it as a compliment,
but there’s no sugar in these pages.
sucking the nectar
out the ends of sweetgrass
seems a poor substitute for water,
but it tasted better,
made my butterfly lids flutter shut
as i threaded blades through my tooth gap.
this cool carpet
cushioned my dome up to behold
the pillow villages in the sky,
where i first met God
and my own tininess.
i awaited the changing guards day to dusk
with an open mouth jar
for flies of fire,
witnessed the air become the night sky.
and one floated in the stratosphere
of my cupped hands,
finding only darkness when they clammed closed,
still radiating through the cracks.
Now, a few months in, there are days where I will write 5 lines and others I will jot down 30, and times where I write more than once in a day. This practice has become a habit — the kind I want to keep, cherish. It is a commitment to myself to grow as a writer and human being, my automatic and meditative 5-to-however many minutes in each day.
I knew that I wanted to write every day, and I have accomplished that, but I’ve also noticed a whole host of other changes occurring inside of me and on the page: I am falling in love with writing again. I am turning back into my seven-year-old self, ecstatic and giddy with the possibility of words and their combinations. And, I am writing better because I am less concerned about what I will “do” with the final products — my only concern in the moment is upholding a commitment I made to myself.
That said, as I’ve gone back through the little written clippings of each day and notice themes emerging, I have generated new ideas for chapbooks or collections that I would not have without this challenge. At the start of 2019, I plan to sift through the year’s worth of writing to pull my greatest work and enter into a period of revision and reflection. I hope that all writers can find a daily practice that works for them, even if there is no actual writing that takes place. See more information below about my process and intentions for this challenge, what I write about, and more!
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What is the challenge? The challenge is to write a minimum of 3 creative lines (poetry, fiction, lyrics, etc.) each day.
Why did I give myself this challenge? To establish a daily practice, experiment in different forms and genres of writing, and create a body of writing that I may one day “do something” with.
What is my process? I have a specified notebook for the 3 lines. I put line breaks between each day. I often jot down ideas in the margins of the pages to return to. Some weeks later, I will play catch up and transfer each day to the computer, where some revision may take place.
What do I write about? Most often, I write about what is going on in my mind and heart in the moment I’m writing: observations about relationships, parenthood, the happenings of the world, etc.
How do I remember? I have a Google notification that sends me an email every morning. I will mark the email as unread until I’ve completed that day. The notification has become less necessary as the practice shifts into a habit, but I still like to see it.
How do I find time? It doesn’t take much time. It has not mattered if I was working full time and raising Glory full time, I have done it every day. Because it’s a realistic goal of 3 lines, sometimes I can do it in under a minute. More time tends to produce more lines, but on busy days I just make sure I have my notebook with me.
What if I forget a day or two? I’ll probably have a few pangs of grief and feel like my perfect record has been ruined. My partner or some other loved one will have to remind me of the 364 other days I completed. Maybe my 3 lines the next day will be a poem of sadness, but I’ll still be writing!
musings of a Black, queer and genderqueer activist, educator, musician.