Start 2023 With a Month of Stories

by Dec 31, 20220 comments

Start 2023 with a Month of Memories

Capture the Stories of Your Daily Life

Tomorrow is New Year’s Day, a perfect day to start recording 30 days of stories of day-to-day life, the big and small things that happen every day.

Each Sunday this month, I will post a week of story prompts.  If you want daily email reminders, be sure to join the challenge mailing list.  The story ideas are loosely group by theme.  All prompts are intended to choose options and they give you the flexibility to apply to your unique situation.  Some of the prompts relate to what you are doing at this moment while others will encourage you to look to the past – or to the future.

Some daily prompts will include a quote, a short story, an image or two, or a combination of resources to inspire your writing. Other days will just be a prompt with follow-up questions or variations.  My intention is simply to encourage your creative – and daily – journaling journey.

Challenge yourself

The prompts or themes might not work for you every day – or even most days.  The idea is to encourage you to write your stories of the moments of your life.  If the prompt doesn’t work for you, modify, expand it, or ignore it as you wish.  You might be really excited to write about something is happening in the world, or your corner of it on any given day.  You are, of course, also invited to mix up the order of the daily suggestions to suit your mood or the situation of your life.  Go for what moves you or makes you feel challenged on any give day. That is, after all, how day-to-day life tends to go sometimes. 

You might decide to follow the prompt for the day with a related topic or you may prefer to do something that works better for you.  This is, as always your journey and your daily writing will naturally reflect that.  If a prompt of the day does not resonate with you, you can choose any alternative topic.  One idea is to replace any prompt that doesn’t work for you with “One Memorable Thing from Today”.  You might even prefer to make that the topic of every day this month (or longer) for a perfect way to record a highlight – or even a lowlight – of each day.  Whatever topic you choose, by the end of the challenge, you will have a collection of the details of your days.

Some General Guidelines

Make your project sustainable by giving yourself some guidelines or rules for how you will do your daily stories.  I recommend setting some constraints both as a challenge and to help you continue with the project and meet your goals.  Here are some things to consider:

Time

Identify a regular time of day for your daily writing.

It might be over your morning coffee, or during a mid-afternoon break, or just before bed.   First thing in the morning works best for me. My favourite strategy is to start with a morning walk and then do my writing first thing.  Both of these activities tend to get bumped or given short shrift when the days get busier. I always feel better when I do these things so I try to tick them off the list first thing.  As an added bonus, I usually work through some ideas on my walk that I can cover in my daily story.

 

Set a timer

You don’t want a challenge like this to become too big an undertaking or it ceases to be fun and becomes a chore, which means that you will be less likely to enjoy the process or to complete your challenge.  A time limit helps with focus too.  Most people seem to find that 15-30 minutes is a good range.

Format

You can certainly decide each day what format your story recording will take according to your plans and energy for the day.  My preference, however, is to set some standards about how to record so that decision doesn’t have to be made each day.  For example:

  • Keep it small – make images postcard sized (4×6 or 5×7 inches)
  • Capture an image – take a picture, draw or paint a sketch, embroider a daily symbol, stitch a quilt….
  • Make it brief – capture the story in a few paragraphs or even point form.  Of course, you can write more and add as much detail as you like but that should not be your expectation for daily practice.

Have fun

Enjoy the process and don’t put pressure on yourself to find big stories or write perfect descriptions.  Make it meaningful for you, enough to remember the details of the moments you chose to describe.   This challenge is intended to capture the details in a succinct and clear way so that you don’t lose memories in the routines of the day. If you are inspired, you can always tell a bigger story or create an elaborate piece of art at a later time.  It doesn’t have to be done in one day but getting the basic details or an outline or a few pictures can take off the pressure because you won’t have to worry about forgetting the details you want to record..

It has been said that it takes 21 days to form a habit.  Although that does not always seem enough to cement a new pattern, it is certainly a strong foundation and writing each day for 31 days will help you to get into a pattern. You might even decide to keep writing daily stories after the end of the month.

Mary Elizabeth O'Toole

Mary Elizabeth O'Toole

Educator, Artist, Storyteller

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