It’s not so much a daily writing challenge as it’s a daily publishing challenge, and that’s very different. With daily writing, I play, I ponder. I spend more time staring out the window. I patiently follow a thread through several meandering pages, and I don’t mind if it’s a dead end.
With daily publishing, there is no such thing as patiently following a thread through several pages. If it hasn’t started to resolve itself into a piece within a paragraph or two, I scrap it and move on to the next idea.
In some ways, the Slicing Challenge is really a daily ideas challenge. Most days, I generate and reject 5-10 ideas before landing on the piece that I will write.
It is not always the best ideas that get written. It’s the writable-in-the-time-and-with-the-energy-I-have ideas that get written. Sometimes an idea I want to write gets set aside for another day, when I will presumably have more time and energy. Sometimes the best ideas get set aside indefinitely because the best ideas often take too much time to percolate and begin to cohere. If this were a daily writing challenge, I could write a bit on them each day and develop them slowly. But with a daily publishing challenge, I just don’t have time to develop the bigger ideas.
Of course the point of the slice is that it’s small, manageable, a moment. But even moments need time to bake. It took three Saturdays before I could figure out the very simple solution to the piece I wanted to write about my Saturday afternoon routine. The piece just wouldn’t write—until I landed on the repetition of “On Saturdays” at the beginning of each paragraph. And then suddenly, there the piece was.
A daily publishing challenge can be therapeutic for would-be recovering perfectionists and commitment-phobes. A piece has to be finished and published. I can’t tinker indefinitely. I can’t even tinker for more than an hour because I don’t have more than an hour most days to devote to writing. During March, I learn to be comfortable with “right enough” and “polished enough.”
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