Accountability and motivation are often elusive when you live alone. Pretty soon half the day is gone and you can’t remember where it went. At the end of March two solutions presented themselves to me, one a jumpstart and the other a long-term plan. I embraced them both.
Back in November when I took part in NaNoWriMo I put up insane word count numbers, completing a novel and a bunch of short stories in a month. In December there were more short stories, but by February my production was falling off…a few short stories and some editing.
My jumpstart was Camp NaNoWriMo where I launched into the novel I had planned, but had originally intended to not tackle for months (I participated in Camp in 2015, too). After spending the last year working on Deep 3rd voice and structure I hoped to see benefits from my learning.
My outline was in place, but there was still some mad scrambling because I’d decided to participate at the last instant. Even so, within days I was back in my comfort zone. It’s amazing the confidence and guidance preparation provide. I still struggle with Deep 3rd at times, but am increasingly better at catching myself. The month ended with the novel drafted, two short stories written, and over 100,000 words penned. Whew!
My long-term plan was discovering Monthly Writing Challenge. It’s simple to participate, the other writers are enthusiastic, and encouragement is plentiful. Like with life, you get out of it what you put in, though approaches vary. It takes me a minute each day to log my production. On Twitter, I log about 10 minutes in the morning and at night sharing encouraging “likes” and offering additional support when someone is struggling. In exchange, I receive the same. A leader (a volunteer from a large, rotating group) posts who reached the daily minimum and who had perfect participation on a weekly and monthly basis. Each month the hashtag changes to incorporate the new month. Thus, this month #MayWritingChallenge is where you’ll find us.
The minimum? Either 500 words or 1-hour of editing. That’s pretty modest, but works great for those with other responsibilities like a job and children. It’s makable, and that means, at a minimum, slow and steady progress. Even better, to reach the minimum you have to commit yourself each day and once you start it’s easy to have the writing sweep you away until your word count is pushing 1,000 words or more. Writing Challenge also works great with any other challenges you attempt like NaNo. Last month I was all about words, but this month the focus is on editing, what with a novel and eighteen short stories needing attention.
Systems and rules are great, but Writing Challenge works because of the people: leaders and participants. The atmosphere brings out our best as writers and people. We’re all tale-telling pilgrims on the writing journey, each seeking our goal and wanting to share/receive encouragement along the way. Too, Writing Challenge operates 365 days each year and helps create a writing routine. Wanting help and company along the way? Join us.