Where’s your joy? Not just a writing prompt

What gave you joy in 2016?

That was the essence of the writing prompt for the first day of my Jumpstart 2017 five-day writing challenge. I decided that I would play along with the challenge participants, so I wrote this blog you’re reading yesterday, with my timer set to 15 minutes.

Of course, I wrote the prompts, so I know what’s coming. That won’t help me every day, but today I did get to think ahead a little: What was my happiest moment this year?

What joy looks like
Joy? You bet. This is my brain on jazz.
I decided it was the hour I spent listening to my friend the jazz singer Donna Byrne in concert at the Provincetown Art Association & Museum this August. 

For reasons I am completely unable to explain, I had not been to hear live music for many months. But almost the moment Donna and her very fine band started playing, I started smiling. And I don’t think I stopped until I fell asleep that night.
I’m not a big selfie-snapper, but as I left the concert I knew I needed to commemmorate the joy. (Yes, it’s a terrible angle. I need to hone my skills if I have any hope of becoming a professional narcissist.)

What could possibly make me happier than that?

I thought that was a rhetorical question, but it turns out it has an answer: Today.

Waking up this morning to find posts from my Jumpstarters, nervous and uncertain—but writing. And excited to discover that they’re writing.

Our Facebook group is filling with stories: A “crazy cat lady” in Africa; a man extracting life lessons from a Habitat for Humanity build; a new entrepreneur exploring ways to reach her audience, and more.

I’d marketed the challenge as a way to “start 2017 with a win,” but I had no idea how much of a win it would feel like already—not even half a day into the process. 

I am proud of these 44 writers from four continents. Proud that they’re doing something they’ve been wanting to do for a long time. Proud of the connections they’re making among themselves as they read each others’ work and leave encouraging comments on it. And, yes, I’ll say it—I’m proud of myself for following the flash of inspiration I had after the Seth Godin workshop just 19 days ago and putting this challenge out into the world.
It’s too late to join Jumpstart 2017, but I’m taking names of people who’d like to jump in for the next challenge. Click here and I’ll keep you posted.