Homeschooling the MFA
I was searching for something else entirely when I hit upon 1,000 Day MFA at Ninja Writers. I loved the rhyming title and the count of days–as if a ticker might keep track of my progress. It also had echos for me of the line from Wendell Berry’s sabbath poem “X” of the 10,000 days of work. And of course that ripples out to Gladwell’s 10,000 hours to mastery.
The Ninja Writers program is inspired by the Ray Bradbury quote, “Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens.” This wasn’t an esoteric plan. This was something I could actually do! But they recommend reading
- a short story, essay, and poem each day
- a novel each month
- a book on craft each month
- and watching three movies each week
Then there’s the writing–a short story each week and a novel each year. Phew–that got overwhelming really quick!
Enter DIY MFA! Another serendipitous find in the same vein. Read, write, build community with other writers. Gabriela is smart and down to earth. Go sign up for her newsletter right now. So much goodness comes in those 5 intro emails. What really made a difference for me was a collection of older episodes that included Ep 47 Honor Your Reality. I’m lucky if I can watch 1 movie a week. That’s the fun assignment, and I’m already behind. So I had to look at the hard lines of my day and craft a plan that would push me closer to my goals, but still honor my reality as a homeschooling mama with a paying gig on the side. Here’s what I’ve been doing for the last 7 weeks:
- read a poem each day from Singing School–a personal anthology collected by Robert Pinsky
- read a single poem every day for a week–thus creating my own personal anthology
- watch a movie–not hard with a screenwriter husband…problem is the 3 littles in the house
- listen to writing podcasts–loved Gabriela on The Secret Library and Caroline Donahue on Type A Creative
- write every day–took a class from Holly Wren Spaulding and Wisteria Writing Workshops. Highly recommended. I’ve been tracking my days with this Austin Kleon calendar, but I also love these trackers from Handcrafted Story.
- read craft books–found the Poetry–Authorship subject heading at the library and I’m set for the next 5 years!
Write/Watch/Read–those are the headings that I’m tracking in my pretty Modern Mrs Darcy notebook. Each week gets it’s own two page spread. It’s not fancy, but it gives me a place to keep lists of books I want to read or poems that I want to be in my Read It for a Week project. It’s been wonderful to have this loose plan already mapped out. I don’t have to reinvent the wheel or start from scratch each week. I’ve already done that part!
Now I can step fully into the daily work. Checking in each week keeps me moving in the direction of my goals. My plan for December is to spend most of my time revising what I’ve written this year. We’ll see how close I come to my 12 poems in a year goal.
By the way, the snappy title comes from an essay by Patricia Zaballos–homeschooling mentor and excellent writer.