52 Weeks: My Year of Becoming a Writer

“Rule one, you have to write. If you don’t write, nothing will happen.” –Neil Gaiman

“Somehow, even at that young age, you know that writing can be a wind that blows through you, makes you more spacious inside, more free. You feel it from the very start. You will still feel it, decades later.” –Gayle Brandeis

Last year I decided to stop messing around and write already.  The decision was born out of working through the “Artist’s Way” program during the pandemic with my dear friend Anna. I learned the ways in which I held myself back, and made myself smaller, and the reasons behind those things. I was ready to step out of the shadows and be visible.

So, I wrote 52 short stories. I showed up every day to the page and I thundered through my anxiety, depression, and past trauma. I wrote through all the negative voices and all the pain.

What I found was a roadmap to calling myself a writer—a way to step further into this cavernous place inside myself to mine and question everything. It’s made me curious and hungry. It’s become my life.

I don’t wake up each day fully confident I’ll someday have a book published, but I do wake up excited to try. The path ahead doesn’t seem so murky anymore and I’m getting to know my golden watery muses. I’ve named them and invited them to tea. We are friends.

While my internal shift feels big, I’d like to share some other things I’ve learned through this process:

*Deadlines work for me. Not only do I need concrete deadlines, but once I have them I can expand on them. I went from publishing one story a week to adding a photo essay and a poem. Having clear deadlines not only pushed me to write and create daily, but it propelled me to explore more avenues of expression.

*My life struggles can be explored in my writing. During a year a lot happens. My daughter graduated from 8th grade and her mental health declined. My mother-in-law passed away. I went on several vacations. In the past, it would have been easy to quit writing during these times, but instead, I used my life in my work. As a result, I processed things in a healthier way for me. I found writing saved me in times when I didn’t think I could go on.

*Each story must be written differently. While I expected to find a clear path to writing short stories, I did not. Each week I’d stare at the blank screen and rewrite the first two paragraphs until the voice of the characters emerged. Nothing about discovering the story ever became easy. Sometimes I’d start writing a character and it was clear they were in the wrong story. Other times, I’d start a story and realize it was far too big. False starts and stops became the norm, and I learned to be patient.

*I’m always going to freak out. You can ask my family, each week I’d get to a point where I’d say “this is the week I don’t finish my story” or “this is by far the worst thing I’ve ever written.” It became a joke and I realize it was part of the discovery process for me. It’s exhausting, emotional, and hard, but I did it 52 times and I can do it 52 more.

*Write around the mess. Life is busy and crazy. While sometimes I’ll be able to write in my now beautiful workspace (photo above), it won’t always be the case. Places I’ve written this year: coffee shops, my van, under a tree at a music festival, outside a hotel room in Oregon, on my phone beside my dying mother-in-law, on my daughter’s bedroom floor, and in various hotel bathrooms and beds.

*Investing in myself. From paying more to remove ads from my website to taking writing classes, this year I’ve learned to invest my time and money into myself. I also hired an editor to give each of my 52 stories a read-through. She was invaluable in moving me forward, showing me the common words/mistakes I made, and helping guide me toward using more descriptions. If you are interested, you can find her at breecedigitalservices@gmail.com. She’s encouraging, kind, and a phenomenal editor! She also happens to be a dear friend.

*Reading is as important as writing. It’s hard to make time for reading with everything in my life, but it’s vital to my growth as a writer. I’ve joined a few book clubs and I’ve decided to make a goal this year of reading 52 books. It seems a bit overwhelming, but I know reading will improve my writing. Period.

*WordPress is about cultivating relationships. I’ve made so many wonderful friends during this last year! This wasn’t something I expected to happen and it’s been such a wonderful bonus. I can’t thank you all enough for every kind word you’ve given me. As much as I want to think otherwise, having someone read and comment on my writing has kept me going on the weeks when I wanted to quit. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

*I can do hard/scary things. Putting yourself/your words out into the world is a scary thing. I still remember hitting publish on my first story and wanting to puke. For some reason I thought people would be mean or simply wouldn’t read it. I was wrong. Getting over the anxiety of hitting publish has given me the courage to not only push through the 52 stories but start trying my hand at poetry and photography. It lead me to open mic poetry nights where I stood before a room full of people and read my words. I still have anxiety, but it’s far easier to push it away now. The more I do it, the more I realize I can.

*The stats. I couldn’t do a recap without including numbers/stats. This is kind of crazy for me, but here we go:

Where do I go from here? 

It’s Saturday and I’m publishing this recap in place of a short story. It feels weird. Part of me wants to continue doing the exact same thing—photo essay on Monday, poem on Wednesdays, and short story on Saturdays. However, I have other goals and I need time to pursue them.

My word for the year is balance. I plan on still publishing three times a week here, but it could be any number of things. It could be a short story, a poem, a photograph, a personal essay, a book review, or maybe even a peek at one of the novels I’ve got in the works. I need to work on getting my physical body into shape and continue to grow my writing skills. I need to find a better balance in all things.

I’m not going away, but I do need to say goodbye to my 52-week challenge.

Before I close, I need to thank a few people.

My family. My husband reads every single story before I hit publish. He gives me feedback, protects my writing time, and brings me cups of coffee on the weekends. My daughter listens to me talk out every story idea and sometimes gives me the direction I need. My son bursts into my room to bring me levity and remind me it’s time to eat (or rather, it’s time to feed him). I’m so lucky to have a family who loves and supports me in doing this crazy writing thing.

Anna. We came up with this project together and I loved the first 25 weeks we wrote together. You are an incredibly important person to me and a wildly talented writer and artist. You are the first person I call when I need to talk about something and you always know the exact right thing to say. You already know this, but I’m your biggest fan and I look forward to what you create in 2023. loscotoff.com

Angelica. You know I’ve loved you since you were born. It’s been wonderful getting to know the adult version of you and writing alongside you since week 21. That means we wrote for 31 weeks together—cheering each other on and commiserating when the prompt just didn’t lead us in a good direction. I’m so happy to have been on this journey with you and to see you thrive. I can’t wait to hold your first published novel in my hands. reecewriting.wordpress.com

To everyone who supports me in big and small ways, thank you! I’m grateful for your love and support. I couldn’t have done it without you.


My 52-Week Challenge Journey

106 thoughts on “52 Weeks: My Year of Becoming a Writer

    • Thank you, John! You’ve been such a tremendous support to me this year. I’ve loved getting to know you and following your blog. My husband is pretty awesome—a wonderfully calm and suppotive presence. Thanks for the compliment on the photo. I’m the heaviest weight I’ve been and I struggle to see myself as pretty right now. You’ve made my day 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. This was a wonderful success. You grew so much in both ur writing style and confidence. It was absolutely amazing to check in and write with you every single week.
    While I haven’t figured out how to put it all into words, I attribute so much of my success these past weeks to you and your continual support/enthusiasm for every crazy story. I cannot wait to see what we do this year.
    I love you too 😍

    Liked by 2 people

    • It was such a wonderful year and I’m so happy to have you by my side. You are such a talented writer! You inspire me and keep me going. We are both going to keep growing and moving forward and I’m here for all of it. It’s exciting! Love you big 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Very inspiring snapshot of the year, Bridgette! Thank you for sharing the hard days as well…somedays all we can do is show up….but we do! I truly enjoy reading your posts, and look forward to what the new year will bring! 💞💞💞

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  3. Hehe, this post is so sweet. Even though I’m not a mom, I feel proud of you hearing your accomplishments and feel motivated for this year. (: I’m trying to find a site where I can post a whole story without putting it on a blog website.😩 I am very good at writing for hours on hours about nothing and I’m trying to do that and have it out on the the interwebs. Anyway, I look forward to seeing more of your posts this year. 😁

    Liked by 1 person

    • You have no idea how much it means to me to hear you say you are proud of me. That’s not a sentiment many of us hear in our lives. Have you considered wattpad? That’s a place many people post stories. Also Kindle Vella. Let me know where you end up sharing your stories because I’d love to read them and support you.

      Liked by 1 person

      • ☺️ It’s always nice to hear kind sentiments, you’ve said your honest opinion many times to me in my comments that made me feel great about myself so I wanted to give back. It definitely isn’t something any of us here often, that’s why when we hear it, it makes us feel amazing and happy.

        I think I’m probably going to choose wattpad and pray I don’t get ignored on there. There’s so many writers writing stories that connect to people in a way that’s sweet, interesting, or not stressful and I hope that’s what I can do.😩 I’m praying that my writing is at least artistic to people and people see it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • You have a very unique voice and I’m excited to read what you write! Would you message me the link when you get it up? I’d love to follow and support you there (you can find my contact info on my about page).

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for sharing and congratulations!!.. just let your fingers do the walking and your heart do the talking!.. WordPress is just a part of your life, don’t forget to live the rest of it.. every time I try to get organized, start a “to do” list or make a resolution, the words of Rose Milligan come to mind:

    Dust if you must, but wouldn’t it be better
    to paint a picture, or write a letter,
    bake a cake, or plant a seed.
    Ponder the difference between want and need.

    Dust if you must, but there is not much time,
    with rivers to swim and mountains to climb!
    Music to hear, and books to read,
    friends to cherish and life to lead.

    Dust if you must, but the world’s out there
    with the sun in your eyes, the wind in your hair,
    a flutter of snow, a shower of rain,
    this day will not come round again.

    Dust if you must, but bear in mind,
    old age will come and it’s not kind.
    And when you go, and go you must,
    you, yourself, will make more dust!
    (Rose Milligan)

    Hope you and yours have the wonderfulest new year ever, life is all that you wish for it to be and until we meet again..
    May love and laughter light your days,
    and warm your heart and home.
    May good and faithful friends be yours,
    wherever you may roam.
    May peace and plenty bless your world
    with joy that long endures.
    May all life’s passing seasons
    bring the best to you and yours!
    (Irish Saying)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’d forgetten that Rose Milligan poem. You are right and I’m working on creating a good family/health/writing life in this new year. Balance in all things is importanat. Thank you for being such a wonderful support.

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  5. stunning achievement, really; you’ll look back and think, did I really do that? And can I encourage you to pull together the stories into a book and publish it? To hold the paperback in your hands, to have the tangible something is very special. If you have had the stories edited then you are most of the way there. You really only need a cover as the formatting etc is a synch, believe me. And if you’re even a little competent with photoshop or similar the cover won’t faze you – personally it’s a cost I willingly bear to have it done properly. If you’d like any guidance, anything I can help with, then let me know.
    Congrats, B, you are a superstar.
    Geoff

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Again, you did grand, Friend. An inspiration for others, and an accomplishment to be proud of. I’m glad the year of weekly stories did so much for you! Now you’ve got yourself a reading challenge. Alright! You’re gonna nail this one too! I do the book a week challenge too. If you want to talk about our weekly reads at the end or start of each week, hit me up! It could turn into some fun posting opportunity or something, even.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve decided to read my books with two things in mind—did I like/not like the book and what could I learn about writing from this book. I’m interested in paying attention, particularly, to narrative structure. I’d love to check in weekly with each other. I just finished Mad Honey and I’m almost done with Fairy Tale (although I started that big one a few months ago, I’m counting it.)

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  7. Such an inspirational blog post – I’ve kind of been doing the same thing. The pandemic was a huge motivator for me in terms of focusing on what I want to do with my life and writing is the number one thing that motivates me!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Happy for you. The “Artist’s Way” was a life changer for me. Writing the 3 pages everyday helped heal a lot of things. I did it like 3 years ago. I may reread her book and work through it again. So much has changed in 3 years. Self doubt, loss, etc. Things that make one not believe in the gifts that are instilled in the places of the heart. I’m sorry to hear you lost your mother in law. Loss is a tough card. Love the challenges you set and completed. Bravo. I just signed up for a book writing class. I have wanted to write so many books but chicken out when I get to the how to publish stage- so many options. Ha. I absolutely loved reading this post. Congratulations! 52 weeks of writing is amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Have you seen Julie Cameron has a new book called “Write for Life?” I think I’m going to order it and start working through it slowly through the year. Let me know if you do the same and prehaps we can connect and reflect together!

      Have you tried NaNoWriMo? I do it every Novemeber and it’s a wonderful way to write a first draft at a pace that doesn’t allow you to second-guess yourself. Highly recommend it.

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      • Hi. I didn’t know she had a new book. Sure I’d love to connect and reflect!!! Seems to be grounding and helpful to be able to discuss things when someone has read the same books. I actually had a friend recommend “Artist’s Way” because she had read it. Then, she let me text her about a million times when I worked through it- haha. I will see about ordering it.

        I have not tried NaNoWriMo. I have heard of it, but thought it wasn’t for me because it’s fiction, isn’t it? Although, at times I have considered trying fiction… I will keep it in mind. Thank you. Such a kind reply, thank you.

        Liked by 1 person

      • You can find my contact info on my about page if you want to work on the book together later in the year. I’ll probably start it in February.

        NaNoWriMo is any novel -fiction or nonfiction. The focus is on completing a first draft by writing 50,000 words in one month. It forces you to quiet the inner critic and get the words on the page. You can find me there in November if you decide to give it a go, I’d love to be friends there and root you on!

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  9. What a wonderful achievement, Bridgette. I so much admire your determination, passion and love for writing. I love your writing (it’s such a joy to read), and I aspire to be as good as you are one day, although we both write very differently. I’m so glad you have so many friends and people to support you on your writing journeys – it must make a big difference.

    It’s been lovely to get to know more about you and your family over the recent months – I feel very honoured that you’ve shared some of your life with me. Thank you, too, for being there for me.

    I just love your writing space – it’s beautiful – a bit like a shrine to peace and calm. I notice that you have a couple of ‘Willow Tree’ figurines. I have some of these at home, too. What a coincidence. I wish you well in the coming year, my friend, and am looking forward to reading more of your work going forwards. Much love and gentle hugs. Xx 🤗💝

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Ellie, for your continued love and support. You are one of the best things that has come out of blogging last year. I love our conversations, your heartfelt poetry, and the way you always know how to make me smile.

      Those Willow Tree figurines are so beautiful! I have a few more not pictured and one Christmas ornament. They are all treasured gifts from friends over the years. And yes, I’ve tried to make my writing space as calm and peaceful as possible.

      Thank you for the love and gentle hugs. Sending both back to you!

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  10. I love that you have such a supportive family. Having your own, personal peer editor in your husband is great. I’m constantly having my fiancé read my writings.
    It is impressive that you’ve maintained your standards. The stats of your prolific writing don’t lie. Good luck to you as you continue the writing journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Reading this, myself at the very beginning of this same journey inspires me to continue. I’ve set myself a goal to write a piece of flash fiction everyday for a year. I have found this process cathartic, but quite and emotional rollercoaster. The past is difficult to revisit at times.I’m just starting to find my voice, so who knows where this will go. Thank you for sharing the journey.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so excited for you to be embarking on this journey and I’m headed over to see what you’ve posted so far. It’s quite an emotional ride and I wanted to quit so many times along the way. It’s by far, hands down, the biggest shift I’ve felt as a writer and I’m excited to hear how things go for you. Keep going!

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  12. A grand salute to your dedication- consecutive 52 stories. I am just imagining the amount of writing you did to achieve this feat. You have mentioned ‘reading’ is as important as writing. Which books/literature helped you in this journey? How much time did you devote to reading?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the kind comment! Probably the biggest help during the journey was reading authors whose prose I find inspiring—Neil Gaiman and Patrick Rothfuss. I also have been slowly working through Letters to a Young Poet by Rilke, Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury and Back Ink. I listen to audiobooks while cleaning, driving, etc. I try and finish one book a week. I also read about an hour a day, sometimes a bit more if I can stay awake. I also find reading blogs helps me a lot—to see what other talented creatives are doing here on WordPress. Best of luck on your adventure!

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  13. Having gone through your post about your writing journey, i think some of your pushing facts resonates with me. I see me in the lines of deadlines and how they pushed you, about turning your life story into writing…
    Well,that’s me..
    Kinda loving this writer,that’s what my spirit is saying……

    Great works ma’am.

    Liked by 1 person

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