Each month I interview someone who is working on their own creative habits. I try to have a variety of habits represented here on the blog. Just because I chose to draw, doesn't mean that's what you should do. So I was excited when Katie contacted me to share hers. For her creative habit, Katie wrote one sentence each day for a year.
C: What started your project?
K: Honestly it started because I didn’t want to pay for a book. I found this time capsule journal at Books-A-Million. You just write one sentence each day in it, and at the end, you’ve got a cool little record of your year. I figured I could do the same for free in a Word document. In a way this project was selfish. It was never meant to be shared or relatable at all—it was solely for me, my practice and my memory. That started changing throughout the year as I experienced new highs and lows, some of which, like heartbreak, are universal experiences. The daily writing tuned me in to these commonalities, and I loved exploring them in conversation with people. I’m really grateful for that new understanding and hopefully someone else benefitted from it by extension.
C: Did you have an end result in mind?
K: My year ended July 31, and it wasn’t until a few months before the end I decided how I’d use my one-a-days. I wanted to create poems from the lines, hopefully to find thematic occurrences throughout my year and make some interesting connections between events. Unfortunately I had to bail on the poem idea when I realized it was changing the way I was writing. Instead of including meaningful details, which are the most special things about any given day, I was just being vague because of the end goal of meshing all these sentences together. I decided to turn my favorite lines into visuals I could use for wall art. I thought it was the best way to preserve the integrity of the project as a time capsule while also giving myself creative fodder for later. And if we’re being honest, I’m obsessed with Pinterest quote graphics, so that just felt natural.
K: When it comes to design skills I have none, so I thought making graphics would be the hardest part. Then I stumbled across Spoken.ly through another blogger and it’s the easiest design website ever, so that was a pleasant surprise.
The original goal was to write one sentence in the document every day. It could be about anything. Of course days would pass when I would forget, and that felt like failing. Then I decided to embrace those gaps and fill them in with selected sentences from journal entries, blog posts, work content, or even captions and statuses from social media. Then there were days where, as many things as I write daily for work, school or socializing, I had nothing I wanted to use. That also felt like failing, even though it was just nitpicking.
Learning how to be bad was one hard but really important lesson. When you can’t seem to write one sentence you feel confident about, your self-esteem takes a pretty solid hit. In truth, a sentence is just easier to put under a microscope because it’s so small. Trying to put together one phrase that carries the weight of an entire day is hard, so sucky sentences are going to happen.
I also learned ways to silence my inner perfectionist. When you pick up a book or hear a song, you don’t think about everything it went through before arriving at the finished product. It’s easy to think it went off without a hitch. Failures are only failures if they’re final, so I decided to just lean into them and admit my humanity. I confess that my creative process is akin to pulling a train uphill with my teeth—that’s just who I am at this point.
C: So now what? What's next?
K: I have an online portfolio and blog, but I never really found a groove or posted consistently because I wasn’t sure what other people wanted to read. Now that my one-a-day project is over, I’ve decided to stop trying to please a readership that doesn’t even exist with content they might like and write content that helps me improve. I’ve found a few books—“Old Friend From Far Away” by Natalie Goldberg, for example—that are full of instruction and writing prompts. I’m going to sit down, turn everything off and write an answer to a prompt for 10 minutes every day. I think the goal will be to write it and post it within an hour so I don’t have time to sit and dice it up like the hypercritical word surgeon I am. I’m used to perfecting papers for school and content for work before I turn it in, so it’ll be nice to just write it, post it, and forget about it. It’ll be more practice at being wrong, and subsequently a lesson in vulnerability, which is the heart of good writing.
C: Thanks so much Katie for sharing your work here! You can follow Katie on:
Oh and by the way my creative habit for today is over on Instagram.