Continuing my series of “How to use your fountain pens more often“, today I’d like to discuss taking on an extended writing project. These seem to be popular within creative communities and for good reason! They are fun to participate in, especially when you’re doing them with a bunch of other people who have similar interests. For us fountain pen users, there are quite a few options.
Different Projects You Can Do
You might be asking, “what exactly is an extended project”? I have no idea if that’s an official name or not, but that’s what I call them. Basically, an extended project is a project that spans multiple days. Some might last for a month while others might last for 100 days or even a year! If that sounds overwhelming, don’t forget that you are participating with lots of other people who can provide inspiration and support if you’re just not feeling it for one of the days.
If you enjoy writing or drawing with your fountain pens, you’re in luck, as there are quite a few options to choose from throughout the year! I’ve tried out quite a few, so I’ll give a quick rundown of the ones that I’m familiar with and my thoughts on each one.
Rock Your Handwriting
I have done a Rock Your Handwriting twice now, but know people who participate almost every month. The idea behind Rock Your Handwriting is that your are given a writing prompt for every day of the month. Besides writing, the goal is to work on your handwriting. The first one I did I had some fun with different fonts and writing styles, but for my second I decided to focus on improving my cursive. I don’t know if I’ve seen a huge amount of improvement, but a little is better than none! You can find the writing prompts on the Rock Your Handwriting Instagram page or Facebook group.
This fun project happens in months with 30 days, hence the hashtag #30inks30days. The goal is to use a different ink every day of the month. If you don’t like cleaning pens, I wouldn’t recommend this one. If you can tough it out, though, this is a fun project. I’ve only done this one once and, as an added challenge, decided to only use vintage inks in a different Esterbrook every day! I couldn’t just make it easy on myself. Still, it made me really happy to use so many of my vintage inks and they seemed to be well-received by people who had probably never seen many of those ink colors before. If you want to see some of the current posts from other people (assuming you’re reading this in a month with 30 days), check out the hashtag on Instagram or just take a look at InkJournal’s stories.
This one is definitely a challenge. February is International Correspondence Writing Month (InCoWriMo) and the goal of this project is to write a letter to someone every day of the month. It could be someone you know or a complete stranger. While I really like the idea of sending a handwritten letter to friends and family, for my first year I decided to write to pen pals. Don’t have 28 pen pals? Not to worry! There’s an address exchange where you can find people to write to or you can visit the InCoWriMo website for more info.
I will say that finding the time to sit down every day and write a letter can be quite difficult, so I (and many other people) kind of changed the goal to be “write 28 letters in the month”. This meant some days when I had more time I wrote more than one and other days I didn’t write any. Still, the end result was the same: 28 letters in 28 days. It’s been almost a year and I still have a few pen pals who I randomly wrote to for the first time in this project!
The 100 Day Project
Earlier this year my wife and I both took part in The 100 Day Project. It is billed as a free art project that takes place over 100 days every spring. My wife decided to do a small painting every day and I, surprise surprise, decided to write for 10 minutes every day. This was, for me, the hardest of the bunch for a few reasons. First, there are no clear prompts or direction, so you have to be fairly self-motivated to just sit down and do something every day. Second, I didn’t participate in the online community, so I didn’t get any sense of participation with other people (besides my wife, of course). It turns out I like seeing other fountain pen people doing the same thing that I’m doing! Still, it was a good project and I’m sure we’ll do one together again next year.
There are a few other projects that I know of (and probably many others that I am unaware of), but have never participated in. One of the most popular in the art community is Inktober, which happens in October. Traditionally it is for artists, but the writing community has made it their own and many people write a short story (100 words or less) that goes along with whatever the word of the day is.
November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The abbreviation is the inspiration for InCoWriMo in case you were wondering. The goal of NaNoWriMo is for aspiring writers to write 50,000 words in the month. Of course, doing this by hand is not what is intended, but you never know! If nothing else, maybe you can write down some thoughts every day with a fountain pen before you dive in and start typing.
One final type of project that is very popular with creatives is a 365 project. The goal of a 365 is to do something every day of the year. I know that there are some artists who do 365 projects, but have never heard of anything organized for writers. That doesn’t mean that you can’t do it! Maybe your 365 will be handwriting practice, writing in a journal or just doing a doodle every day for a year. I will say that I have done a 365 in the past for photography. It was a personal project and, while very challenging, was extremely rewarding to complete.
If you’ve never participated in an extended project before, I’d highly encourage you to give one a try. Not only will you find yourself writing more often, but you’ll probably also find other participants who you can connect with or follow on social media. Please keep in mind, even if you’re not very active on social media, these are still fun to do on your own! Sharing the results are not as important as just sitting down and writing. So, I encourage you to find one that resonates with you and give it a try. Even if you don’t make it through the entire project, you’ll still have spent some quality time with your pens, ink and paper, and that’s all that really matters.