when more is more: failing up in a 30-day challenge

As a jumpstart in my writerly life, I am participating in a 30-day challenge to reflectively write at least 150 words and then post online. We’ve since expanded on the idea with international colleagues into #modigiwri. Join us and here goes!


So, I’ve been failing miserably at the 30-day writing challenge to write at least 150 reflective words and post them. I have done better at responding to my challenge friends—albiet always a day late! I am grateful for their patience with me.

The same holds true for #modigiwri. That hashtag has taken off! You should check out the feed on Twitter. It’s on fire. Oh and Sherri pulled together the folks who are blogging with #modigiwri. So you can check those out as well:

But I digress.

Above, I italicized “and post them” because I have done some offline writing. And actually, I have been seeing some of the effects of my 30-day challenge activity as pitiful as it is. I was remarking to Darlene, and another colleague who mentioned being in a major writing slump, that I have felt the influence of writing and posting more and more frequently. For instance, I am working on a chapter right now. Using the proposed abstract, I was doing what I always have done, and was moving text around and extending some sentences, but I was not happy with how this was beginning. Here’s a sample of the proposal:

In this chapter, I suggest three ontological orientations for lifespan writing research. These orientations are framed by the provocation that comparative frameworks dominate methodological approaches in studies of writing development. When oriented to the comparative only—such as comparing age 8 to age 12 or designing before/after interventions—chronological time, age, or curricular sequences play an a priori determining role in findings. I suggest that a way to work both with and beyond comparison is to reflexively consider how we are oriented ontologically toward the methods and theories we take up in lifespan writing research…

Smith, A. (in preparation). Working title: Prepositions through the lifespan. R. Dippre & T. Phillips (Eds.), Approaches to Lifespan Writing Research: Steps Toward an Actionable Coherence.

Inspired by Darlene’s idea of writing different memoir beginnings, I thought: “Why don’t I just write a possible new beginning that’s totally different from what’s here?” Let me tell you: Ever since finishing the behemoth called a dissertation I would have never thought that. “Why don’t I just write a possible new beginning?” Please. Every word since that experience has been precious and some painful.

However, among other things, writing and hitting post or making efforts to write and hit post every day is helping me feel the weight of every word less and less. Writing nearly every day has helped me feel for the first time in a very long time that if I don’t like what I’ve written I will be able to write something else. I can’t emphasize enough how radically different that frame of mind is. It’s such a relief.

So, here’s another take at the beginning that may or may not stick this time, and I am totally fine with that. (It also shows, dear challenge buddies, that I have been writing…just offline! Now to go do some creative digital remixes and composition with the #modigiwri folks!)

DRAFT: An orientation is consequential. The angle from which we witness an encounter like a car crash, for instance, heavily influences our perception of what occurred. Did the blue car pull out first? Did the red one slow down? The answers to these questions are not just dependent on empirical evidence, but are also based on the relative perspective from which we experienced the accident. Conceptual and ideological orientations operate similarly. When reading the methodologies of a research report, you can often anticipate the findings. That’s because perspective from which the researcher took on the project limited her field of vision theoretically and methodologically. For these reasons, when it comes to understanding a person’s writing over the lifespan, it matters, or rather, it’s consequential, what ontological orientations the researcher takes up.

Smith, A. (in preparation). Working title: Prepositions through the lifespan. R. Dippre & T. Phillips (Eds.), Approaches to Lifespan Writing Research: Steps Toward an Actionable Coherence.


What do I learn from this? To write more (when it’s hard and feels heavy)…I need to be writing more. It sounds counterintuitive, but I am finding that the weight of each word is distributed across blog posts and high-stakes academic texts and comments on social media and tweets. When there are more words being written there are more words to share the weight of writing.


As always, I apologize that WordPress has begun to force ads on each post. Please ignore any ad that follows. I have not vetted and do not support whatever is advertised below.

8 thoughts on “when more is more: failing up in a 30-day challenge”

  1. Anna yes the ads are atrocious and dangerous. In my classroom I had students blogging about eating disorders and the ad vendor Facebook used served fat shaming ads everytime.

    I looked into it more and more these ads only went to women blogging about physical and mental health.

    Wouldn’t be huge leap for you to go to WordPress.org rather than. com

  2. Hi Anna, Well, he’s added now! I was even reading and responding to his posts…. How great that there are more eyes working together to notice. Like “When there are more words being written there are more words to share the weight of writing,” so too: When there are more eyes reading the written, there are more eyes to share the community of writers. 🙂

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