I watched the ball drop at midnight, tooted my party horn, kissed my husband, and was off to my home office for my first attempt at a 24-hour writing marathon.
Here’s the thing: I hadn’t pulled an "all-nighter" for years and I was sixty-three. Also, I had resolved to do FIRST WRITE™ without caffeine. So I donned a pair of yellow color therapy glasses to stay alert. Honestly, those glasses saved me from taking a long winter’s nap!
I began FIRST WRITE™ 2019 with a few writing warmup exercises from the FIRST WRITE™ handbook. To complement the winter theme (I like themes), I used The Snowflake Method of writing, created by Randy Ingermanson.
It was important that I had the angels in my writing corner. I did a quick meditation with Lisa Beachy’s "Archangel Gabriel Meditation Clearing Creative Blocks to Conceive What You Desire" video.
12AM-6AM ~ Write (with 5-minute breaks every hour)
6AM-9AM ~ Nap
9AM-2PM ~ Write (with 5-minute breaks every hour)
2PM-5PM ~ Nap
5PM-12AM ~ Write (with 5-minute breaks every hour)
At 4:30AM, I took an hour-long nap and struggled to get up again. I had had a disturbing dream that I was still trying to shake off when one of our cats, Tim, mewed for his breakfast. I thought I had fed him, but I couldn't remember.
I was free-writing until this point but had to stop when my writing hand kept cramping. This time I went to the computer keyboard which felt amazing! Even though my brain hadn’t caught up, my fingers were flying, tap-tapping away to produce marks on my screen I wasn’t sure I was controlling.
During one of my breaks, I gave myself a facial (movement helps one to stay awake), but I was too bleary-eyed to notice any visible improvement.
I avoided editing anything I wrote, which is unlike me because I am one of those writers who wants a sentence to be perfect before I will proceed to the next. But FIRST WRITE™ is intended to be a challenge and if I could avoid cross-outs and going back over my words, I knew I would cross the finish line.
Shortly after I ended my Twitter chat at 1PM, I took another one-hour nap. As much as I wanted to rest, I soldiered on, determined to see the clock strike midnight again, marking the end of FIRST WRITE™ 2019.
Based upon the five steps in the FIRST WRITE™ handbook, here are my experiences:
Step One: Set your writing intentions
For my muse, I turned to the name I had selected for my website and publishing company—Writelighter. My FIRST WRITE™ project would be to write twelve thought-provoking blog posts (one for each month) to help raise the vibration of the Planet with Wellness, Peace, and Positivity. This seemed like a good goal as I had been lax at keeping up with blogging and resolved that 2019 would be different. As an added incentive, I submitted this same intention to be posted on the New Year’s Eve Wishing Wall in Times Square.
Reality: Initially, my plan was to write one blog post every hour, so I was amazed when I wrote the introductory paragraphs to each one in my second hour! But I wanted to write some fiction, too, which is why I wrote some new chapters for SEAGLASS CHRISTMAS: A Little Blessing Mystery. Because I had two accidents at home, sickness, and organizing Color Therapy Month, my heart wasn’t into polishing (nor publishing) my posts until May, after Camp NaNoWriMo.
Step Two: Determine your word count goal
Hmmm. Could I write twelve blog posts in twenty-four hours? I thought I would shoot for the moon with 12,000 words.
Reality: I surpassed my goal—yay!
Step Three: Announce your participation
This step was simple because as the organizer of FIRST WRITE™, I had been promoting the event on my website, social media, and newsletters since August 2018.
Reality: After I announced my participation, I soon realized that not everyone accomplished the entire twenty-four hours as I did, which was fine because the point was to write something new and to challenge yourself.
Step Four: Prepare your writing space
I waited until after Christmas to clean and reorganize my home office because I had been using it as a messy gift wrapping station.
In my office, I am surrounded by crystals and salt lamps, so I cleansed them with sound to ensure good chi. To the left of my computer (which I also cleaned), I set up an inspiration station with FIRST WRITE™ collage cards, carnelian (for creativity), citrine (self-confidence, concentration), and sodalite (communication). I also included special motivational flower essences from Green Hope Farms. To keep me alert and creating, I set up a color therapy lamp to surround me with the colors Orange and Yellow.
Reality: My writing space was magical. I felt comfortable there, which was a good thing, since I was going to spend many hours in there!
Step Five: Plan your schedule
I had a feeling this step would be tricky. FIRST WRITE™ occurs on New Year’s Day and I didn’t want to neglect my poor husband on this first day of the year, even if I was involved in an important writeathon.
Since January is World Mindful Eating Month, I planned a FIRST WRITE™ menu that would be healthy and not filled with caffeine or sugar-laden snacks.
Reality: It turned out okay. When I finally had a moment to greet my hubby, he expressed his concern over my taking on too much. I couldn't imagine why. Maybe he was counting the dark circles under my eyes?
What I Plan on Doing Differently in 2020
Even though FIRST WRITE™ occurs during the height of the holiday season, I will "train" myself for this event by getting an average of 8-10 hours of sleep at least a week before New Year’s.
I will increase the number of naps I take during FIRST WRITE™ or at least sleep longer than an hour at a time.
I will exercise my fingers and wrist more often, maybe wear a brace. I will gently remind myself that I am in my Sixties and have certain physical limitations. Yes, I'm still a writer but I am no spring chicken, either!
So, cheers to another New Year's Day of intentional writing! With a healthy array of snacks, fruit-infused water, and a spectrum of bright color therapy lights to keep me going, I have a strong hunch FIRST WRITE™ will be productive, which is really the point, isn't it?
Learn about the 24-hour writing marathon on New Year's Day at the "FIRST WRITE™ Prep Talk" on Twitter on December 15 @ 8PM ET! #firstwrite