Hi everyone, I’m Orly and I’m a challenge addict.
It started innocently enough. You know, a writing challenge here to get motivated, another challenge there to get a draft done. Pretty soon it became multiple challenges a month. What can I say, there’s just something about being in a group of writers suffering with supporting each other.
And there are so many challenges out there to enable motivate the writer in need.
Since I’m recovering from a month with two challenges, dog-paddling through the beginning of another challenge, and looking ahead to the next challenge, I thought I’d share a few thoughts to help my writing friends:
Not all challenges are created equal and not all challenges are right for you. NaNoWriMo, for example, is a great motivator for those who can crank out word count, but if you’re a slower writer or an agonizing writer, that kind of challenge may be more disheartening than motivating. ROW80 ("the writing challenge that knows you have a life") requires measurable goals but you must post a blog with your progress every week.
A Facebook writer’s group I’m in had a fun challenge in January pitting writers against rewriters. Everyone picked a side based on where they were in their project, then announced their personal goal. It was energizing watching everyone post their accomplishments.
There are challenges of all shapes and sizes. Look around, ask around, and pick one that suits your needs. Signing up for NaNo when you’re revising probably isn’t the best plan – trust me on this! Been there, tried that.
If you don’t find one that suits you, create one with your own writing group. Challenges don’t have to be huge or complicated.
Once you identify the challenge, it’s time to figure out what you’ll need to accomplish it. Each November I sign up for PiBoIdMo, that’s Picture Book Idea Month. “Planning” for that includes buying an adorable notebook to capture my 30 days of picture book ideas and then optimistically writing out 1 through 30 on the top right corner of the pages.
If you’ll be participating in a challenge with word count, planning may include advance research or ensuring you have dedicated time each day to write. This wouldn’t be the time to schedule a bathroom remodel where you’ll be constantly interrupted by workers and construction noise (yes, been there, done that – noticing a trend here?).
Make sure you have whatever research or craft books you need for writing handy. Draft an outline or post your plot points where they’ll be easy to see. Print out any inspirational quotes that will kick your creative brain cell butts into gear.
3. Jump in.
Now you’re ready. The calendar clicks over and it’s time to jump in. Bring on the challenge, baby! One additional thing you need, though … a good attitude.
You only have 14 new picture book ideas instead of 30? That’s 14 more than you started the month with. And out of those 14, there are probably at least one or two that can be flushed out into a great manuscript. You publicly announced that you’d write 25k this month and only wrote 17k? You’ve added 17k to your manuscript and established forward momentum.
Challenges are for celebrating accomplishments. Every word, every idea, every page revised is an accomplishment because you're that much closer to a completed project. Not to mention the camaraderie and bonds you’ve made with fellow challenge participants.
Okay, I lied. Following those steps won’t help you conquer the challenge addiction. But they will help you have fun and succeed. And isn’t that the point of joining challenges in the first place?
Are there challenges you absolutely love and want to share with WITS readers? Do you have other success tips to share?
Because we’re suckers for a good challenge, the WITS team decided to share our addiction with our beloved readers. On April 20, we’re holding our own little challenge - Write Up A Storm. From noon to midnight Eastern time, we’ll be Writing Up A Storm on the WITS Facebook page. That’s write … wait, right, ahh they both work. Pop in for an hour writing sprint or hang out for a couple of hours or the entire 12 hours. After all, misery creativity loves company.
Will we see you at the WITS Write Up A Storm challenge?
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After years of pushing the creativity boundary in corporate communications, Orly decided it was time for a new challenge. Three women’s fiction manuscripts later (plus a handful of picture books), it’s safe to say she’s found her creative outlet. When she’s not talking to her imaginary friends, she’s reading or at least trying to ignore everyone around her long enough to finish “just one more paragraph.” Orly is the founding president of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association.