This month I’m breaking all the blogging rules. This month I’m taking on Jami Attenberg’s #1000wordsofsummer challenge, which calls for writers to write 1,000 words daily for the first 14 days of June. This month I will write words for myself, not an ever-changing algorithm. 

That previous paragraph already broke a readability rule. You’re not supposed to start 3 consecutive sentences with the same word. But, dearest gentle reader,  I hope you made it through that passage okay, nonetheless.

Before writing this post, I didn’t look at any Google trends to figure out what hot topics related to my niche people are searching for online. I didn’t Google a topic and checck those “People also ask” questions to determine my subtopics either. I just opened my laptop and started typing. 

I didn’t draft an outline. I didn’t brainstorm an intriguing anecdote to hook my reader, but I hope you’ve made it this far and want to keep going. Nor did I make a list of points I wanted to make or lessons I wanted to teach. I didn’t begin this with any call to action in mine. 

 This post will not be optimized with keywords, with an intro or subheading that feature those keywords or with bullet points. 

Witth this post, I’m breaking all the rules. 

Well, maybe not all of them. Grammarly and I are still in a deeply committed relationship. And as I type this I’m wondering if I’ve been using too much passive voice or too many adverbs. But I’m ditching the rules that often keep me from following the very advice that I give to others time and time again: Girl, just write!

Over these next 14 days, I want to write stories. We are the storytelling animal. I’ll link to a TEDxTalk that explains what I mean by that phrase. External links are good for SEO (search engine optimization). Oh no! That’s me slipping back into the blogging rules again. 

And look! I’m at 300 words now. That means I need to insert a subheading. 

Here’s a subheading. 

Maybe I don’t really want to break the rules. After all, I am an Enneagram One. (I’ll link to a blog post I wrote about the Enneagram. Internal links are good for SEO, too.) I like rules (except for ones that I consider dumb – like rules about women should and should not do and be. But that’s a topic for another post.) I like order. Without it, I have trouble grounding myself. 

No, I don’t want to break all the rules. What I really want is the freedom to write stories. 

I want to write stories for myself. I want to write stories for you. Stories are how we understand ourselves and the world around us. 

But if I’m honest that’s only part of what I want to do. 

I am a writer. But I am also a teacher. I haven’t been a full-time educator for five years, but you know what they say, you can take a teacher out of the classroom but you can’t take the classroom out of the teacher. Wait. Does anyone actually say that? 

I digress. 

When I was a teacher I had a poster in my classroom of an African proverb: She who learns teaches. Eventually, I used that to write a proverb of my own: She who writes teaches. 

So, yes, I want to write stories that make you think and feel; stories that inspire you and challenge you and let you know that you’re not alone. But I also want to write stories that teach you something new, stories that are both practical and powerful. And yes, I want to write stories that leave you with a call to action. 

So each day for the next 14 days I will open my laptop and say to myself “Girl, just write” and I’ll say, “Girl, just teach.” 

Wait. I need a photo. Blog posts need photos. That’s another rule I don’t want to break. Hold on. Let me try to find a writerly-looking photo of myself.

That should do the job. That picture is so old. My curls are now past my shoulders. When my hair is straight, it reaches for my waist. Theres’s a story there. A story about chemotherapy. A story about cleaning clumps of curls from the shower drain for weeks until one day there was nothing left to fall from my scalp. A story about headwraps. A story about staring at my bald head in the mirror. 

I digress. Again. All these tangents are surely against the rules.

Once I hit publish, there is another rule I’m going to follow – promote, promote, promote. Yes, I’m writing these words for myself. Yes, I’m writing for the pleasure of putting words on a page. But I want to share this joy with others. I want to show off how I’m breaking the rules and writing with reckless abandon so that you’ll find the freedom to do the same. 

If you’d like to write with me, join me for a free online journaling workshop on Tuesday, June 11 at 6:30 p.m. CT You can sign up here

And if you live in Birmingham, I’d love to write together in person. I’m hosting a pop-up journaling workshop on Thursday, June 13 at 10 am CT at CREED63, located at 1601 5th Ave N, Birmingham, AL 35203. You can RSVP here.

So, this blog post needs to be 1,000 words for me to say I followed the rules of the challenge. Although, I did journal quite a bit this morning and I could count those passages to my word count for the day. But that Enneagrram 1 in me says that isn’t good enough. So here I am at the end of this post typing extra words that may or may not add to the effectiveness of the post. But I think every word of this post is revealing something about who I am and why I do what I do and maybe that’s the point of this all.