July is the month of the writer.
Or at least July 2016 certainly is. There are so many challenges happening right now. You know the ones—the “write every day” challenges. I am a huge proponent of writing every day. Yes, sometimes you need a break. Yes, sometimes your WIP will start biting you and pulling your hair if you don’t give it some rest. But maybe you take that time away from your novel to work on a short story. Or maybe you write a blog post or a letter. Writing is a skill, just like anything else, and it needs to be practiced.
Plus (here’s a big reason I try to write every day) the first few hundred words are the hardest. Seriously, if I make it past 200 words, I’m golden. They start flowing like a water spigot. But those first 100 are miserable.
But the second I hit 200, I spit out another 500 words in fifteen minutes. I swear, this happens every freaking day. And (here’s the trick) the less often I write, the worse that “slow start” is. It might be the first 400 words, instead of 200. Writing every day keeps my creative gears greased, and it keeps my momentum moving in the right direction so I don’t stall.
But sometimes it’s difficult. Sometimes life gets in the way, or you’re short on time, or you just don’t want to write. That’s why community challenges are so incredible. They toss a bunch of writers together so that everyone is held accountable. It’s much easier to get up at 6am to make time to write when there are other people going through the same challenges and coming out the other side. So this July, I’m participating in four challenges:
Goal: set your own (mine is 30k)
Support System: 10 cabin mates, NaNo community, Facebook groups, and #CampNaNoWriMo
End Result: bragging rights and freebies
Goal: create something each day (flash fiction, sketch, music, etc.)
Support System: Facebook group and #WLYA
End Result: an anthology including everyone who managed at least 20/31 days
Note: Submissions are closed for this year, but keep an eye out for next year's challenge.
Goal: write each day
Support System: Rough Writers group and accountabilibuddies
Check-In: app in accountability group
End Result: good writing habits
Goal: write 500 words each day
Support System: #JulyWritingChallenge
Check-In: Google doc and tweet
End Result: at least 15,500 words written
There's still time to join these challenges!
(with the exception of Write Like You're Alive)
If you decide to join the madness, here are
5 Tips for Writing Every Day
to get you moving in the right direction.
1. Stick to a routine.
Choose a time, whether it’s 5am in the morning or 3am at night, and make that your dedicated writing time. For me, it’s from about 9:30-11am, after my morning run. That’s not the only time of day I write, but it’s a safe bet that if you catch me between those times, I’ll be typing away in Scrivener. Having that base, knowing I’ll have at least a few hundred words completed before noon, gives me some stability in my writing progress.
2. Write shit.
As writers, we have stories and images in our minds that we want to translate perfectly to the page. This desire, combined with the fear and self-doubt that most of us have experienced, is the enemy of productivity. It slows our pen, makes our fingers hesitate on the keys. Whatever you have to do to your inner-editor to keep him/her quiet, do it. Don’t worry about getting it right. Just get the words down, and make them nice and pretty later.
3. Find your spot.
At your desk, on your back deck, in a coffee shop, under a shady tree, in the bed of your truck, at a picnic table, in a boat, on top of the Empire State Building. Find a place you feel comfortable writing, and make sure you have an opportunity each day to go there. While you’re at it, find a soundtrack that helps clear your mind (my Writing Mix is currently 10 hours and 6 minutes long). Writing every day is about getting rid of distractions and excuses. [Click to Tweet]
4. Tell friends and family.
The main reason writers find success with challenges like these is because they provide sources of accountability. The act of checking in each day and telling another person that you did or did not meet your goal forces you to accept total responsibility for your writing. To take this a step further, tell people in real life what you’re doing. Tell your friends and family you’re trying to write every day. 1) They might check in with you (“So how’d the writing go this week?”), adding yet another layer of accountability. 2) Keeping them in the loop makes it much easier for you to say, “No, I can’t hang out right now. I didn’t get my writing in today.” Besides easing tensions in your relationships, that eliminates another possible excuse. You can’t tell yourself you just don’t want to upset your friend by cancelling plans when he or she is saying, “I understand! Stay in and write.”
P.S. If you’ve got someone like this in your life, tell them how much you appreciate them. That kind of support is not easy to come by.
5. Have a reason.
Why did you accept this challenge? Why do you want to write every day? Hell, why do you want to write period? [Click to Tweet] The answers to those questions are going to be different for everyone, but if you don’t know, you will not succeed. Keep those questions and answers in the forefront of your mind. Write them on a piece of paper, and pin them to your bulletin board. Set them as your desktop screensaver. Know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, why you do what you do. And when it gets difficult, when you want to skip a day of writing, remind yourself what you’re sacrificing.
Which challenges are you participating in this month?