About Birds in a Barrel

If shooting fish in a barrel is easy, what would one do with a barrel of birds?

Let them fly. And see where they go.

About 40 Days & 40 Writes

The inaugural project of Birds in a Barrel is called 40 Days & 40 Writes. (Here's an FAQ on how it all works.) You don't need to be a theologian to get the reference(s). Whether it's time to build an ark, wait on a mountaintop, or wander in the desert, 40 days is a period of time in which transformation can happen.

Fundamentally I believe that writing is a tool for thinking, of gathering up unformed thoughts and bringing them to the part of your mind where you can examine them. Done deliberately, it is a particular way of being conscious in the world and of the world.

A few years ago in observance of Lent, I decided I would try to write every day. In the end I managed 30 blog posts adding up to 15,000 words. Even though I've been a professional journalist and editor for all my adult life, I learned a lot about the discipline of writing over those 40 days.

Turning that Lenten practice into a writing program was inspired by a client who said he needed a "personal trainer for writing." He has very interesting ideas, but wasn't finding the time to get them on the page. A few other things have informed and inspired the framework for this program, including: 

  • The Pomodoro Technique and Francesco Cirillo's approach to thinking about time.
  • The gradual approach to training the mind in the Headspace meditation program.
  • The Sun Magazine (recommended to me first by the fabulous Judy Belk) and it's "Readers Write" feature.
  • The 30 Sentences Project, organized by the wonderfully creative and community-building Helen Kim.
  • My many writer and editor friends who've been generous with their advice and thoughts, especially Donna Frazier.
  • The first "flocks" of writers, who were willing to get aboard and offer their time, words and feedback.