Jan 19

Accepting the Your Turn Challenge

I’m supposed to ship a blog post for seven straight days, starting in the next, oh, two hours or so.

Some things never change. I like to write. I don’t suck at it. I launched a 30-year newspaper career based on my desire to write and tell people stuff. During my college freshman year, I had to take an expository writing course. It required a 500-word essay every week. Class started at 11 a.m., and most weeks, I started my assignments around 9 a.m. on deadline day.

Aced it. Did I mention I used a manual typewriter?

Mark Whittaker at manual typewriter

It wasn’t that typewriter, but it was one just like it.

In retrospect, that may not have been a good thing. It did, however, set the tone for my chosen career. I worked right up to deadlines for years. That was especially true working for an afternoon newspaper, where you could finish an article at 11 a.m. and see your byline in print an hour later.

Years later, this time as an editorial writer, I was required to write two or three editorials for every edition — seven days a week. My brain constantly urged me to pace myself. Produce at a steady rate. Write something extra every day so the weekend would be covered without killing myself by writing six or seven editorials on Friday afternoons.

I still hate Friday afternoons. Most days I spent six or seven hours thinking and just one or two hours actually writing. But you know what? They always shipped. I was pretty good at meeting somebody else’s deadlines. Hitting my own deadlines is another story.

Which brings us to the Your Turn Challenge, a nifty little experiment proposed by Winnie Kao. I don’t know Winnie, but I do know she works with America’s top marketing model, Seth Godin. The challenge, if you didn’t click the link, is to post daily blogs Monday, Jan. 19, through Sunday, Jan. 25. True, I’m still working on somebody else’s deadline schedule, but at least I can choose whether to follow it.

I’ve been telling myself for years — really, years — to start blogging more often. “Write” is one of my Three Words for 2015, but it hasn’t kicked in. So let’s do this. In issuing the challenge, Winnie proposed a list of topics. With the exception of this post, I probably won’t follow it. I’m an eclectic sort, and I’ve got a variety of topics to write about from my life, my work in online marketing and even my interest in baseball.

By Sunday, I hope to have a habit. I’ve already started writing the next post.

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