31 Days: Inspiration and Daily Practice

This series of articles running through January will explore ways of keeping our head above water in physical, mental, emotional and creative areas. There will be creative challenges, competitions and giveaways. For the full background see here. To receive all the 31 posts, sign up for email notification on the sidebar. On twitter it’s at @31HAW or @alisonwells. Hashtag  #31haw and #headabovewater.

Not succeed but sustain

With these posts over 31 days I’m not looking at how we can magically ‘succeed’, I’m looking how we can get through our daily challenges in ways that are sustainable and can sustain us.

We all resolve to do things better, to be healthier, to organise ourselves, to be more productive but if you’re anything like me your good intentions will fade or get lost amidst the chaos that is life. I’ll look next week at goals and how both small goals and gigantic goals can work but let’s be realistic, life gets confusing and things happen so we n eed to build in flexibility so we don’t get discouraged and I’ll talk about that in next weeks post.

Daily practices I’ve undertaken this year

I’ve pledged to write 31 posts on wellbeing and resilience. It’s quite an undertaking and occasionally I wonder, what on earth I was thinking. But I want to make sure that it’s achieveable and if I need to make it easier on myself by taking shortcuts or getting help I can do that too.

I’ve undertaken to get up early to write each day but there’s a get out clause (only if I’m enjoying it and it doesn’t make me too tired to meet the challenges of family life.

I’m also walking regularly and working up to 20 mins each day on the kids trampoline in tiny increments (7 mins yesteday).

Many people follow the daily practice of the small stones, focused, mindful tiny stories or observances of nature or life and I’ve done that in previous January’s. Mindfullness is a fantastic way of calming our restless thoughts and anxieties and I’ll mention it again later in the month.

What I’m thinking is that the activities that we think of committing to at this time of year are those that will make us feel better either mentally, physically, emotionally, financially etc. They need to feed us, uplift us and be fun. If it’s a drudge, it’s not going to last.

So inspirational

I want to share with you today a link to the most inspirational talk that I listened to in 2012 – it’s a talk to young writers by author Ray Bradbury, one of my favourite authors who sadly passed away late last year. It’s about an hour long and well worth a listen and I post it on a Sunday because you might just have the time to sit and take it in.

In this recording he talks about how he got published, how he started out purely by writing the things he was interested in and wanted to write. They were stories when publishers generally wanted longer work but they worked together and the stories were collectively published as The Martian Chronicles. He talks about joy and enjoying writing, the energy as he discusses his own writing is evident.

Read a short story and an article of interest each day

In terms of daily practice Ray Bradbury gives the best advice out there. He tells writers to read a short story every day and to read an article of some kind that will feed their knowledge and curiosity. I love short stories and the complete satisfaction there is within one story, the (often) poetry and humanity. Reading articles on others lives, science, history, film, whatever immediate sends out sparks of interest, snippets that lie in your mind till later when they come out newly minted and dipped in the precious metal of your own interests.

Some of the sites I’ve found particularly inspiring in the past year have been Brainpickings (philosophy, history etc), IO9 (future science) and the site Letters of Note that finds fascinating letters of all kinds of human and world stories. I’ve been inspired so often by these sites and many story ideas have emerged from reading them.

Whatever you set out to do this year let it be something that is possible and that gives you energy and inspiration, not guilt and negativity.


What daily practices do you hope to follow this year? Can you link us to any sites that you find inspiring?

(UPDATE, this is an old post so competition no longer valid!)

Flash fiction Creative Comp

Don’t forget the 31/131 word creative challenge. Winners will be chosen later today. Please comment on your favourite entries. Thank you!

8 thoughts on “31 Days: Inspiration and Daily Practice

  1. The best words of wisdom always come from Ray Bradbury. To writers in need of inspiration and a helping hand, I’d recommend his book ‘Zen In The Art Of Writing’.

  2. barbarahenderson

    I always start off well with anything physically exerting but ‘fall by the wayside’ mainly because I find it boring! But plenty of writing goals and have quite a good daily plan to keep me going through them. If words were sit-ups, I’d have a Strictly stomach!

  3. I’ve only got two daily practices that I hope to follow this year and the first is to read something every day – even if it’s just a page of a magazine article, a news story or a blog post, although it’s more likely to be a short story or a poem or more of the novel I’m currently reading – and the other is to get some exercise and fresh air. But this last one has to be without my ipod or an audiobook or even a camera, so that I can focus on me and the world I’m in. And that’s it.

  4. I don’t have any regular routine beyond work, kids’ school run and perpetual cooking. But I write almost every day, even when as now I have no major project on the go. But time is still my master and I do wish I wasn’t so neurotic about and always clockwatching and timing myself. Maybe that ought to be my goal, to not let time get to me. But sadly I don’t think I’m going to prevail over that one. The clock is ticking in so many ways…

    1. alisonwells

      Yes I know what you mean, there’s a balance to be had between getting on with writing and worrying about getting on with writing or that you haven’t had enough time getting on with writing. I’m doing a bit each day which is good but I know that I could really fire ahead much faster. We either find ways of doing that or realise we’re doing enough and let it be. At least we won’t lose the energy of worrying. But I know YOU know that already 🙂

  5. Pingback: New Year: New reading challenge! « irishnewsreview

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