Katia Raina

The Magic Mirror


Dear 31-minute challenge participants! We did it! You did it! Dear winners — I am so proud of you!!! fireworks

Or — maybe you almost did it! I am proud of you anyway.

What matters is, all month long, all of you’ve been writing away! Pushing yourselves, exploring, keeping your commitment to something that matters to you. How can I not say, “Congratulations?”

Way to kick off 2013!

My first month of the year has gone by incredibly fast. Yes, every single day I have made sure to write, or work toward my writing in some significant way. Planning counted, so did writing critical essays exploring the craft, analyzing other books carefully and even attending lectures during my Vermont College of Fine Arts residency. But as I told you before, I’ve been doing this — this writing-every-single-day-for-at-least-half-an-hour-plus no matter what happens for about nine months at least.

What have I learned? What have I accomplished? Will I continue?

I have learned mostly things I already knew, like how quickly the time can go when you’re working uninterrupted. How cheap these 31-minutes can be, and at the same time, how precious. Fragile too, if you aren’t careful, easily squandered.

It’s hard to talk about accomplishments for me this month. December was dedicated to finishing things — a new draft, a first round of revision. This January was more about starting, breaking out, experimenting, taking flight.

Finally, will I continue?

I am surprised to be saying hmmmm…..

Here is what I love about daily writing, weekends, vacations and all: it keeps me in touch with my core. It keeps me working. The word count grows. Why hesitate then? Well…. Sometimes I wonder: what would happen if I took a weekend off? Or just one day? I wonder if the space of a day might allow my brain the rest it occasionally needs, might allow my family to claim me more completely. And if that might, in the end, result in me coming back to my writing from a fresher, less automated, more honest place.

I don’t know. Just wondering.

What do you think? What have you guys learned? What have you accomplished? Will you continue? Will any of you organize this sort of challenge on your own blogs next year? 🙂

Talk to me!

Remember, if you did skip a single day, or more, and haven’t yet let me know, do so now please, either here in the comments, or via email at katiawrites (at) gmail (dot) com. I will draw the name of the winner of the giveaway part of the challenge on Monday!

Thanks again, all of you, for doing this with me. You guys made it great!


February 1, 2013 - Posted by | Writing Mirror | , ,


  1. I ‘fessed up before. But in case you missed it, I didn’t make the challenge. It’s all good though (I’m channeling Pete the Cat). It was a great month of writing. Hope everyone else found Katia’s call to focus as useful as I did.

    Comment by Wendy Greenley | February 1, 2013 | Reply

    • Yes, I got that, Wendy, and you (and Pete) are right. It’s all good! I hope you take this month’s successes into the rest of the year and build on them! Keep me posted on how the writing’s going — I mean that!

      Comment by Katia Raina | February 1, 2013 | Reply

  2. Katia,
    I did it! I worked on my writing projects every day this month. Like you, sometimes this entailed reading or research, sometimes outlining, sometimes writing, and sometimes revising. I sent out to non-fiction queries and started working on a long stuck in a drawer historical fiction novel. I probably wouldn’t have stuck with it so diligently had it not been for telling people and blogging about it so publicly (even though few people read my blog, it’s still in the ether). I will try to keep it up, and definitely plan to sign on next year. Thanks for the idea, the motivation, and the inspiration.

    Comment by Jessica | February 1, 2013 | Reply

    • Dear Jessica, so glad to hear it. So you’re just automatically assuming there will be another one next year, huh? I wasn’t planning on it, but you know what? Now that you said it…it does sound right. This year was kind of spur of the moment, but for next year I’ll be sure to prepare nicely, lining up plenty of posts for when I’m at residency, for one thing — also maybe prepare a badge, spread the word early, etc. Thanks for the push — and thanks for blogging about it, too! I didn’t even know!

      Comment by Katia Raina | February 1, 2013 | Reply

  3. Congratulations to those who took up the challenge. I’m positive the discipline and hard work in those daily 31 minutes paid off.

    Comment by Medeia Sharif | February 1, 2013 | Reply

    • Sure sounds like it, Medeia. Thanks for cheering us on throughout the month!

      Comment by Katia Raina | February 1, 2013 | Reply

  4. Thank you Katia, for hosting the 31 day writing challenge. I have to be honest and say I did not write everyday, but i accomplished so much. I finished a picture book story and wrote a query letter. Both will soon be ready for a first mailing out! I am nervous and excited. Thank you for giving me the push I needed becasue although I didnt completely wri
    te everyday, IT WAS ON MY MINd and I think that was enough to complete a goal.
    Sincerely, Shiela

    Comment by shiela fuller | February 1, 2013 | Reply

    • I am thrilled for you Shiela, thrilled that you found the space in your life for this, and now you’ve got results to show for your month. I hope you keep it up!

      Comment by Katia Raina | February 1, 2013 | Reply

  5. Thank you Katia for hosting this challenge!

    It was an eye-opener and made me realize how much time I waste doing things that are not related to my goals as an artist/writer.

    I didn’t write everyday as planned, but I did spend at least 31 minutes a day learning “useful” information. So I probably fall in the category of “successfully – failed!”

    To those that posted during the challenge, it was a pleasure to read about your writing process, and I thank you for sharing.

    Best wishes to everyone’s continued success!

    Comment by Becky Hall | February 1, 2013 | Reply

    • Well, Becky, since you did “work” every day, though it wasn’t always writing, I am still counting you in. Is that fair?
      Thanks so much for participating!

      Comment by Katia Raina | February 1, 2013 | Reply

  6. Congrats to all who participated and achieved great results.

    Comment by Miranda Hardy | February 1, 2013 | Reply

    • Thanks for participating, Miranda. I’m glad you gave it a shot!

      Comment by Katia Raina | February 1, 2013 | Reply

  7. Thanks again for this nudge, Katia. I did it!! I wrote every day. And for me, the 31 minutes were just the starting gun. I continued to write (after jumping up and stretching for a few minutes) for several more sessions, and even up to 2 or 3 hours a day. I’m blessed that I had the luxury of time to do that. But it’s true, you can accomplish much more if you turn off the internet! I revised an entire ms twice! And made a good start on a new novel.

    Will I continue? You bet. But I will allow myself an occasional weekend off from writing if I feel the need. One thing I’ve realized is that even when I’m not at my desk, I’m always working on my current ms in my head. Especially in the shower. 🙂

    Comment by Joanne Fritz | February 1, 2013 | Reply

    • Sounds smart, and sounds perfect! Amazing results, Joanne.

      Comment by Katia Raina | February 1, 2013 | Reply

  8. I never officially entered, but I made it the 31 days. The last few were hard, but that’s because I made it through the re-write project I’ve been avoiding for months and had to find something new to work on. Thanks for helping me find my motivation.

    Comment by Jenla | February 1, 2013 | Reply

    • You’re welcome Jenla — I’m sorry you didn’t sign up — but I am thrilled that you were able to handle the tough project — and start a new one. Bravo!

      Comment by Katia Raina | February 1, 2013 | Reply

  9. Thanks for doing this challenge, Katia. I found it to be a HUGE help. I loved seeing how much I could accomplish in just 31 minutes. I definitely missed days–a lot, actually, since I also started a big curriculum writing project this month. Nonetheless, I managed to stay on track with my goal, and I don’t think that would have happened without your challenge. I found that if I missed days, I would make up for that at week’s end with a one or two hour burst of productivity. Thank you so much for a great experience!

    Comment by Rebecca | February 1, 2013 | Reply

    • Wow — how awesome, Rebecca. You’re welcome, but please remember you guys are the ones who made this challenge great, not me. 😉

      Comment by Katia Raina | February 1, 2013 | Reply

  10. I managed to write something every day…not a;ways what I expected, but any writing was/is better than none at all. Thanks for the “jump start” to a year of writing.

    Comment by darlenebeckjacobson | February 1, 2013 | Reply

    • Congrats, Darlene! You made it, then!

      Comment by Katia Raina | February 2, 2013 | Reply

  11. I missed a few days due to computer problems but otherwise wrote something every day. I tried writing blogs to see if I thought I’d like to commit myself to the regular work of doing one. Decision? No. I’m involved in too many things to take on this project at this time but consistently writing a blog for several days definitely let me see what it might be like. A few days I wrote thank you notes,, or notes of encouragement to others. I lost my chapter 10 of my children’s novel of a fifth grade story three different times. My computer kept freezing up. The computer man just left my house and already I can’t reply to my e-mails so this may not go out either. He’ll have to come back. I’ll never be a writer by profession, it’s just a hobby, an outlet for me. I still do volunteer work with students at school, helping in reading classes (my career for over 30 years) and enjoy that more than writing, tho I like a little time spent writing. Thanks for the encouragement and the ‘nudge’ Computer still giving problems tonight so signing off. Thanks again, Katia.

    Comment by Barbara Holland | February 2, 2013 | Reply

    • Well, Baraba, it was good for you to try it on then, and see how much of a dream this really was. Hope you get your computer problems sorted out soon!

      Comment by Katia Raina | February 2, 2013 | Reply

  12. Hi Katia! Writing for this month of January has been super! I did skip two days of writing but forgot that researching and other writing related things count too! I was just so focused on actually writing, in the chair, fingers typing away! So I’m proud of myself for raking the challenge and plan to carry the 31 min. a day idea into this month. What did I learn? To just type away in a steady manner right through all the inner critics and not worry if the writing was good, bad or worse! That’s freeing and not nearly as paralyzing as in the past when I would edit as I went along. Thank you for the inspiration and I will take you up on this challenge next January, too! Good luck with your writing!

    Comment by Maureen C, | February 2, 2013 | Reply

    • Doing a happy dance for you, Maureen C! You’re that dream challenge participant who I hoped would keep on long after the month is over! Yay!!!

      Comment by Katia Raina | February 2, 2013 | Reply

  13. Katia, Here is what I have learned. As I mentioned to you, I wrote 31 minutes, usually, more each day to meet this challenge. MOST of the days, I was in a “writing mood” so it was easy. Words flowed. Paragraphs grew. And my characters made me laugh. But there were days when I was not in a writing mood, and what I had found is that what I wrote, I had to re-write the next day. In plain simple English, the writing sucked! Sometimes, making yourself do something that you clearly are not in the mood to do, isn’t worth it! Years ago, when I figured skated on one particular day, I was not in the mood to skate but I made myself. I was competing that weekendo I obviously felt the pressure to practice. To make a long story short, I put on my skates, took them off, and put them back on again. I made myself a promise…two run throughs of my program and that’s it. I then get to take off my skates and go home. Easy enough, right? Nope. On my very last jump, I fell had to be taken to the ER with a concussion and nine stitches on the chin. Although I won, I never skated again when I wasn’t in the mood. Date: Fri, 1 Feb 2013 01:24:47 +0000 To: rhutchinson@live.com

    Comment by robin hutchinson | February 3, 2013 | Reply

    • Robin — first, wow, ice skating competition? You must have been a sight to behold on ice! I loved ice skating as a kid and a teen and was okay, and could even do a figure or two, but I’ve always dreamed about being able to truly dance on ice 🙂

      Second — yes, sometimes we need to folllow our gut and just go take a break. I’m so sorry about what happened to you. But it’s tricky, because at other times, working through not wanting to write is important too. For those of us who treat writing like more than our hobby, like our life’s work, like our true and only profession, we sometimes need to plow through those days when we aren’t feeling it, either. Then again, everyone from hard-working lawyers and surgeons to superstar singers and athletes takes breaks once in a while, right? In other words… still figuring it out. Couldn’t resist working yesterday 😉

      Comment by Katia Raina | February 3, 2013 | Reply

  14. Hi Katia, I liked this challenge and wrote many days, but I did skip days. I finished one of my projects and submitted it, that felt good. I continue to challenge myself to write everyday, but have trouble on some busy days. I’d like to push myself to write everyday now so that when summer comes, and I have a more flexible schedule, I will be in more of a habit. Thanks for encouraging us, and for planning this!

    Comment by Maureen | February 5, 2013 | Reply

    • Maureen, sounds like a pretty good month to me 😉 I’m glad you’ll keep on trying. What might help you is setting aside a regular time/waking up earlier/writing first thing in the morning? Best of luck moving forward — you can do it!

      Comment by Katia Raina | February 5, 2013 | Reply

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