The February Challenge: 30 for 30 (minus 2)

February: Shortest month in days. Longest month in perception.

Historically, I slog through February. Unlike January, which largely is a gray month offset by the shiny promise of a new year, and unlike March, which largely is another gray month offset by the ceasefire of a spring break week, February is a gray month that's not offset by much except that (a) it's only 28 days long, and (b) its tipping point balances on the fulcrum that is Valentine's Day. Regardless of whether you love, hate, or feel indifferent to that holiday, at least it offers ready access to chocolate.

This February, I'm trying something different. Something bold. Something ambitious. This February, I'm determined to write here daily. I repeat: I'm putting myself out there and committing to daily writing for a month.

Now, to the tens of loyal readers who visit and enjoy this blog, you may wonder, "Why? Why do you feel the need to do this, much less announce it?"

I'm so glad you asked. I'd love to tell you.

1) Exhibit A: The Name of This Blog. The title of this blog is Robin Kramer Writes. The title itself is a noun, but "writes" is a verb. It's an action. During the past few years, I've pumped the breaks on prolific writing. Life has been weird, and occasionally weirdly hard, and I haven't felt like saying much. That's okay. But right now, it's time for me to reconnect with the part of Robin Kramer that actually, ahem, writes.

2) Self-Amusement. If you'd watch, you'd probably see me smiling as I write. Sometimes I make myself laugh. On rare occasion, I make myself laugh hard enough that I snort, which could be embarrassing except I'm having too much fun. I'm not going to lie: I amuse myself. Although that might sound prideful, it's not. It's good to enjoy yourself, your own company, and your own thoughts.

Just last week I wrote about procrastination. Once finished, I read it over and thought, "This sounds like you, Robin." It had been a while since I felt this pleasure. It had been a while since I had an 'atta girl moment when I hit publish. I've missed the habit of wrangling the thoughts that swirl in my head into words that appear, fully-formed into sentences and paragraphs, in this virtual space. I want to recapture that voice. I like that voice.

Philip Lopate, a master of personal narrative, shares in a popular essay (which I assign to my college students each semester I teach writing) that strong writers don't wallow in self-loathing, thinking they're too dull or broken, or inflate themselves with self-smugness, thinking they're too great. Instead, they're characterized by self-amusement and self-curiosity. To me, this seems like sage advice for both writing and for life.

Self-amusement and self-curiosity? That sounds fun.

3) That Sounds Fun.
I recently finished reading That Sounds Fun by Annie F. Downs.

It's conversational and refreshing, like drinking sweet tea from a Mason jar while sitting with a friend on a porch swing. One recurring theme woven through its narrative-rich chapters is that being an amateur — a dabbler in pleasurable hobbies during our leisure time — has been lost in our quick-paced, for-profit, highly-driven society. This loss is keen, indeed, because our hobbies (and the childlike wonder and fun they create and cultivate) enhance the quality of our lives.

I love this. When I shut the book the final time, I took inventory of my own amateur hobbies and loves: reading, writing, speaking, and pretending that I'm the host of my own HGTV show as I dabble with DIY projects, specifically. Then I thought: Be brave, Robin. Give yourself a reason to write more.

That sounds fun. A writing challenge will be fun.

4) February is Only 28 Days. I've selected the shortest month for this daily commitment. February is just 28 days. It's like an ESPN 30 for 30, minus 2. It's like January or March, minus 3. I already told you that February is a month I habitually slog through, so I might as well blog through the slog.

In other words, 28 days should be do-able.

So, let's do this. I imagine some posts will be short. That's okay, probably good even. The daily discipline will build mental muscle for me, and hopefully, it will be enjoyable for you whenever you're able to read along. (And if you ever smile, nod, laugh, or — best yet — snort as you read, please drop me a comment. I'd love to hear from you.)

Challenge Update: Mission Accomplished!

Over the course of the month, I wrote about stacking wins, encouraging words, and middle school basketball games. I commented on the weather, taking small detours, and the Lord's steadfastness. Perhaps my favorite two posts documented a seemingly easy house project that went wrong — and then against all odds, escalated into even more face-palming hilarity.

In a nutshell, this challenge yielded 28 posts about messy, mundane, and glorious everydayness. (And it definitely was fun.) Here's a full listing:

Day 01: The February Challenge: 30 for 30 (Minus 2)

Day 02: Chronic Soul Amnesia

Day 03: College Kids These Days
Day 04: Crying at Middle School Basketball Games
Day 05: Just a Hint
Day 06: Take It Bird By Bird
Day 07: Drowning in Monkey Arms
Day 08: Wisdom from The Glass Onion
Day 09: When an Easy Project Goes Wrong
Day 10: In Case of Emergency
Day 11: Be Like George
Day 12: 40 Day Stories
Day 13: Small Detours
Day 14: Love at First Sight: Introducing Chip
Day 15: Stacking Wins
Day 16: When an Easy Project Continues to Go Wrong
Day 17: The Happiest Squirrel on Campus
Day 18: When the Window is Open
Day 19: On Being Awkward in Social Situations
Day 20: Hand Sanitizer
Day 21: Temperamental
Day 22: Ordinary Day? Add Baby Ducks
Day 23: Just Lint On a Sweater
Day 24: Easy DIY Twine Orb
Day 25: The Kindness of a Chainsaw
Day 26: Shop the Freezer
Day 27: Words We Never Forget
Day 28: Mission Accomplished

February photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash

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