birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Signing off

Dear Starlings,

In honor of the holiday, I give thanks for everyone who filled out their surveys. That goes double for those of you who also made donations. It is gratifying to know you'd recommend 40 Days & 40 Writes to other people — and when I have 40 more prompts, you might do it again.

In your survey (and yes, you can still take the survey if you haven't yet), nearly all of you said you were, in some way, seeking to reconnect with your writing. As my yoga teacher says so eloquently, "Thank you for allowing me to support you in your practice."

I also want to point out how much you supported one another in this endeavor. For instance, 90% of you said you read the blog. Half said "participation of a group" was one of the things that kept you going day after day. Finally, another shout-out to Russ, our blogmaster: Two people commented that curiosity about would be excerpted from their writing was a motivator.

What did you get out of this practice over 40 days? Here's a sampling:

  • I am so out of practice when it comes to actual story-telling and I've forgotten how to do it. This helped me begin to reconnect with that side of writing. 
  • It has been an outstanding re-set for me to make time to write every day. 
  • A moment of respite 
  • Writing in 10-20 minute periods was non-threatening and maybe I will be able to do more of that on my own.
  • I discovered more of myself.
  • Good first drafts and some ideas for future explorations.
  • A commitment to the momentum of the project translated into a commitment to myself.
  • I started to think that this collection of writings would be a good thing to save for [my kids].
  • A reminder that I enjoy writing (or even can write)

All good things. 

What new things did I learn from this third iteration? That some people share the most personal things, and others keep perfectly innocuous writing to themselves. That some people are completionists, and that I need to build more flexibility into the system to accommodate that. That automating the booklet process was a great investment. 

I also was reminded that nearly anyone can write 15,000 in 20-minute-or-less increments over 40 days.

Several of you expressed a desire for some kind of concluding event — a reading, a cocktail party, a meetup. Alas, Starlings, you are nested all over the nation, from Maryland to Alabama to Washington. Would that I could fly you all here to Los Angeles for a party. What you can do if you like is "like" or "follow" (I don't know what the difference is really) the brand new 40 Days & 40 Writes Facebook page. I think you can post there, say hi, meet one another. If you are in Los Angeles, I would love to take you out for coffee or cocktails.

Finally, if, over stuffing and green beans, someone expresses an interest in 40 Days & 40 Writes, do send them to the sign-up page.  I may be launching another flock in January.

Happy Thanksgiving. And, as always, onward and upward!

— Robin

Get Ready to Get Ready

So... how did it go?