By Hallie Brand
Tuesday, September 18, 2018
800 words for 100 days.
In the midst of a move and a pile of life transitions, I decided to write 800 words every day for 100 days and what I learned was that it’s all about the process.
You see, I’m a checklist girl. I love to get things done. I have been since I was a little girl. I’ve hated waiting, and patience has always felt like somewhat of a curse word. I know I should have it, but oh it’s so hard.
And so of course, as He often does, there are seasons of my life where marked by waiting. Two in particular that come to mind in the past five years. The first was the first painful year out of school and the second is the past five to seven months, but particularly the past 100ish days.
As I said, I hate to wait. But the difference between the first waiting season and this one that I’m currently in that I can markedly see is these 800 words. You see, typically waiting for me feels so passive. It feels like i’ve messed up and i’ve been sent to purgatory. It feels like I’m simply not doing the right thing and if I could just meet the right person or have the right conversation or say the right prayer in just the right way that would be good enough for God, then he would unlock the doors and I would be out of the waiting pattern. And so it’s my habit in these waiting seasons to knock on all of those doors, to stress and worry and wring my hands. To do a good bit of crying. To feel a significant amount of stress.
And honestly, that’s exactly what I’ve been doing this time too. And yes, I realize that the theological implications of all of that is nonsense. That isn’t how God works, and we’re working on rewriting that in my brain together.
But at the same time, two things happened that have helped me in this waiting season. 1. The 100 day project. If you haven’t heard of the 100 day project, it’s this beautiful project where creatives from all around the world choose one thing to do for 100 days and share it as a practice in creativity. I tried it last year in a crazy work season and literally got 10 days into a watercoloring project and quit. And i honestly had no intention of starting this year -- because we were about to move and who has time for creative projects in the midst of a move.
But one of my favorite podcasters talked about making her creative project easy, she was doing “100 creative breaks”, and i thought about the one thing that would feel like a break, the one thing that i could do no matter where i was and the one thing that would take as much or as little time as I had in that day.
And there was writing. And that brings us to 2. My dear friends Elizabeth and Ashton started this project called 800 words this spring. When i defined my 100 days project, i wanted it to be free. I knew i wouldn’t keep up with it if it had strict boundaries because we were in the midst of a move -- and then some crazy life things happened that i was even more thankful for no strict boundaries -- but i did know that I needed some structure. I think it was a couple weeks in that I decided i was going to try to write 800 words every day. Liz and Ashton were writing them weekly, but I had a good bit of downtime with the move and my brain needed the space to process some big things that were going on.
And so I started trying to get 800 words every day.
It has been the most beautiful blessing. Since i can remember, i’ve been a journaler, but over the past few years, i’ve gotten out of the habit as screens have replaced pencil and paper in many areas of my life. This has brought me back to the process.
I think God knew when he had me start these words 94 days ago now. I know he knew what we’d go through and I think he knew that this would be healing. I’m thankful He chose to heal me with words. We went through a move, health issues, my best friend’s wedding, closing a business, and then reimagining it as a whole new thing. I’ve cried and I’ve cried. We’ve danced in our living room, and we’ve felt like freshman in college meeting new friends all over again. And honestly, most days I’ve hated the whole thing because I’m a ridiculous dramatic human. I’ve struggled through fear, so much fear. I’ve struggled through loneliness. But I’ve had these words to write every day. I’ve expected them of myself and I’ve given myself grace on days and weeks when they just haven’t come. But i’ve kept showing up in the midst of it, and God has been teaching me about the process through it.
These 800 words have been a lifeline. They’ve been more than a book writing exercise. In this season it hasn’t been about that. In fact, I doubt I’ll ever share the full contents of these documents with anyone. But they’ve been walking me home. They’ve walked me to our new home. They’ve helped me become the real adult that I’ve put off becoming for years. They’ve reminded me that I’ve been a writer since I was a little girl, whether or not there is ever a bound manuscript with my name on it. They’ve given me the grace to embrace that. They’ve given me the grace to work to accept my own story, exactly how God is writing it instead of the one that I’d like Him to have written for me, the one that I can craft for myself from the pieces He’s given me.
To keep up with Hallie (she’s one of our favorite people ever), follow her on instagram.