Sunday, August 22, 2010

Writer's Challenge Update III

JAN: Pat Marinelli left a comment that I copied, posted to the bulletin board, and adopted as a Mantra.

I control the Internet. It does not control me. I control the Internet. It does not control me. I control the Internet. It does not control me.

Yes, I have been way more productive. As of today, I only have two to three pages left to finish the first draft of my novel. But the productivity goes beyond page count. I find myself in the world of my novel all the time, even when I'm shopping at Costco. I've also had more success researching my non-fiction book, and although there are still hurdles to climb, I find everything falling just a little neater into place.

I'm winning the battle with my internet addiction. Admitting I'm powerless once I just "check my mailbox." And turning it all over to a higher power: In this particular instance, the Writer's Challenge.

My proudest moment? On Friday, I had an early physical therapy appointment and pre-vacation errands in the morning. I didn't get a chance to write until 1:30 in the afternoon. I didn't check my email or go on the Internet until after 3 p.m.

And you know what? It was even a waste of time even then.

I'll be en route to Martha's Vineyard today, and by the time I unpack and write my page, I likely won't be able to check the blog until late in the day, but I'll be reading and responding to comments and looking for inspiration. Or is it fortitude? Maybe just a common bond.

Please tell all. What was your proudest moment? Or your weakest one?? And remember page count is only part of the story.

Write First!


  1. The munchkin was in music camp all week which meant she and I were up very early every day. I was at my desk before 7:30 every morning and got a lot done before nine o'clock.

    Hardest day? Yesterday. I didn't get to my desk until four o'clock--the final camp concert was outstanding--and I didn't want to do the pages. But I did! I think they even make some sense.

  2. Fourteen days--fourteen successes and the brand new WIP is up to 6,000 words, while most of my time is spent in revising an earlier manuscript.

    The hardest part for me is not using the internet to research something as I am writing. A few days ago I couldn't remember the drug your body produces in its fight or flight response.

    Before this challenge, I would have popped into Google and re-remembered adrenaline. However, once I convinced myself I could delay the research, I typed in [insert drug that causes fight or flight] and continued the writing flow.

    Funny thing was it then took me two days before I felt the necessity to fill in the detail.

    As the mantra says, our time is ours to control when it comes to the distractions (good and bad) of the internet.

  3. This challenge is perfect for insomniacs and early risers. I'm just saying.

    I've stuck to it, but my biggest challenge is not to check email first. I usually check every hour on the hour. I handle incoming and stretch (warrior pose or two). It probably disrupts my creative flow, but it's my system.

    Jim, I insert a lot of red into my manuscripts, all notes to myself to come back later for this, that and the other.

  4. Everyday last week I wondered if I was going to keep my word to myself. So far so good, but it's feeling like a 12-step program--just one day at a time.

    My hardest day was Wednesday, we were traveling and I had to make a real effort not to let life stuff get in the way of my page. It was just as hard as the internet/e-mail.

    I'm feeling good about my progress and somewhat surprised at the words that roll out.

  5. Jan, I was so surprised to see my name at the top of your blog today! Thanks, and yes, I control the Internet but it's still difficut not to let it control me.

    Like James I also ran into the problem of needing to check something not related to writing and could not do it because I hadn't written my page yet. I made a note and checked it later.

    Like you I didn't get to write my pages until early evening on one of my days. Boy, did I want to check that e-mail! And you're right there was nothing that needed my immediate attention.

    I thought about checking e-mail all day. But I also thought about my characters and plot. My creative mind in back in full force. I am a happy writer. This writing first is becoming a good habit for me. I doubt it will ever be easy to wait to check that e-mail and I do have knew respect for Hubby who gave up smoking years ago.

    Enjoy your vacation.
    Results 24 pages, 6 knew short stories, and one just started.

  6. I love the page a day ... that is just brilliant. Because no matter what, I can always do a page a day -- well mostly. I got off track for a few days at the beginning of the week because my mom had another stroke and I was at the hospital with my dad. But after mom got stabalized I made up the days I missed. I am really getting a lot done. One short story draft is now out for critique / revision, another short story draft is done and resting, and a third short story is started. This is pretty amazing for me.

  7. I did my page ON the Ferry, so I could respond ASAP. Forty-five minutes with kids all coming up to pet the dog and lots of people around me, but I had a table to put the laptop and the writing flowed more freely than usual, WHO CAN FIGURE?

    JM -- I'm so sorry to hear about your mom. And would not even begin to hold you to any pages during those difficult times. But wow I'm impressed you could write at all.

    James -- I have the same challenge, wanting to look things up on the Internet. I leave a lot of XXXX in my manuscript just like Ramona's red ink and come back later.

    Darlene, I'm so impressed with your 7:30 am.

    RJ, My character Hallie Ahern had addiction issues so I'm well versed in 12-step programs - and you are SO RIGHT.

    And what can I say, Pat?? You Inspired me. And even more with that productivity!!

  8. Hi Jan, I had some proud moments this week, though I didn't type everyday. I must say that except for today, I didn't write first. I keep a notebook by my bed, and the first thing I usually do is write down some ideas about a scene that needs to be fleshed out or other ideas that come to mind. That, in my mind, counts as writing first. I didn't used to count it, but now I do. It lessens the guilt of not sitting in front of the computer first thing. Now, my proud moment is that I broke my personal goal of 2k per day a couple of times this week. And, when I didn't make it every time, I was okay with it. I am feeling more confident each day. The characters are constantly on my mind, and that is primarily because of this WRITE FIRST CHALLENGE. If I don't start out typing it's okay. Also, I have passed the 20K mark in my current ms. I am very excited about that because there were times I felt I wasn't going to make it.

    Now, my weak moment comes today. I just don't have it in me to sit and work on my wip...the weather is gloomy and rainy, and I hate that. It's looking like it will be a lazy day. Just a thought...could this response count as my writing first today? Maybe, maybe not, but I am sure it has got to be more than a page....LOL!!!

    Safe travels to the Vineyard. I will check back in later.

    Peace and love,
    Paula R.

  9. Good going you guys--you are inspiring! I'm not following the challenge exactly, but it definitely helps to have the page and the internet problem in my mind...

    Keep up the good work!

  10. Like James, 14 days, 15 successes. 4400 words into the new WIP. One day last week I was at a loss of what to write, so I wrote a page of plotting/synopsis-in-advance, which enabled me to keep going on the page a day. And since Friday it's been several new pages a day.

    Thanks, Jan! And have fun on the same chunk of land as our First Family, whether you see them or not.


  11. Week 2: Day 14, page 25

    I think it was Jayne last week who mentioned that because she knows she will be writing first thing in the morning, her mind spends the sleeping hours preparing her for that session. So true!

    And like you, Jan (and a few others) I’m finding that writing first every day keeps the story alive in my mind. The characters go everywhere with me. Even when I’m not physically adding to my word count these people are, telling me their secrets, talking about each other, urging me to get back to the keyboard. It’s thanks to you and the challenge that I write my first page every day, and it’s thanks to them that I write the second, and sometimes more.

    It’s been a long time since I’ve felt such sustained enthusiasm for a WIP!

  12. I managed to write first everyday this week. Yeah me! And I almost never stopped at just one page. I may not have done much more than a page, but every little bit counts.

    The weekend remains the hardest time to write first. The disruption of my routine, such as it is, throws me off. But this weekend I was able to overcome and write first. I'm happy with myself.

  13. 14 days and still counting. This has been fabulous for my book proposal and I'm happy to say am nearly done. Oh no! What to write next. Does re-writing count? Or maybe I'll finish that story about the alien pod. Either way, this has been great for me and will probably keep it up for far longer than the 6 weeks.

  14. Sleep deprived last week, I fell behind. But now I've caught up and am on a roll, page by page, and best of all inspired to continue despite some recent passes on my other MS's.

  15. Ok, and what;s more I thnk of yo all every day! Eery time I decide--WRITE FIRST--I am filled with feeling of a bond with all of you.

    I had a weird event. One day I wrote a whole scene from one character's point of view. Then next day, reading it over, I decided--whoa. It should be from a different pov. So I wrote it that way. And then, reading it through,I realized I was right the first time.

    Patting myself on the back for keeping a copy of the original version!

    Tanya, so proud of you!

  16. Ilonka, Kate and Karen--hurray! Yes, I agree, the write first challenge makes your brain go to "book first," if I could put it that way.
    Paula R-what fun!We're proud of you, too.

    IN fact--giving a standing ovation to all!

  17. Ramona, I do the "on the hour" thing, too. Even if I've already done my words!

  18. Karen,
    Yes, rewriting counts. The point really is to get involved in your work/story before you get involved in the Internet. And I plan to keep it going beyond six weeks too.

    What is it they say 28 days to change a habit?? We should all be set.

    congrats Edith and Paula on your impressive word counts. You guys put me to shame. I have a confession to make. I have never once checked my word count. Even now, although I make at least my page a day, I don't know exactly how many pages I've written --I think because i go back and rewrite so much, the pages just expand from the middle out.

    Paula -- you can definitely count long hand writing/note making. So much of when we write is just figuring it all out.

    Ilonka - I'm with you. The biggest change I've felt is the enthusiasm I have in the story, actually stories -- since i'm deep into two books.

    Kate, the weekends are the hardest for me, too. But I think, for me, they are what are making the biggest difference.

    Tanya -- I'm so happy you are pressing on. I know its easier said than done, but it will pay off in the end!!

  19. If we can count longhand note-making, this week was less of a failure that it appeared. I only added two pages to the WiP but have a much clearer map of the scenes needed to take it to the next big plot point. As others have mentioned, doing the challenge keeps my characters talking to and around me whether I'm writing them down at that moment or not.

  20. To tell you the truth Jayne, plotting out the story, all that problem solving, is harder than writing a page, at least for me.

    So it counts big time.

  21. Well done, everyone. You are inspiring.
    I didn't look at my internet today until midday, which is a stretch for me, so you are helping me focus on my work first too.
    I'm dying to read the novels that are written as a result of Jan's challenge.

  22. Thanks, Jan. It is certainly true for me. Once I know where the story is going next, the page count racks up pretty fast.

  23. Thanks Hank and Jan. I got a lot more written than I thought I would today. Thanks for the challenge. Happy writing everyone!

    Peace and love,
    Paula R.

  24. I fell off the wagon after the first five days and have yet to get back on again. It's not the Internet and e-mail calling, but all the projects I still owe people who have been very understanding about other disruptions in my life. I will attempt to get back on board tomorrow.

    In those first five days, I pulled together the mixed up revisions to the first four chapters of my novel. I now have five chapters put together.


  25. Hey Mo,
    I know you'll get back on board when you can!!

  26. Being president of a RWA chapter, I have to check emails every day to make sure I don't get over whelmed with messages through their loop, Chaplink. So I have to go on but I'm trying to postpone it as much as possible.

    That being said I haven't done that well with writing but I have brain stormed some ideas and wrote them down. I've also wrote another interview for our newsletter. There will be 9 interviews in all.

    I will do better!!!

  27. Hi Donna,

    You'll do fine. And brainstorming is a critical part of it all.

    I think that since we're writers, we have this incredible urge to communicate -- and that's what makes us most vulnerable to RESPOND to people. I have a friend who is a musician who checks her email maybe twice a week.

    She is my role model.

  28. Yesterday, I posted at the end of the first day's Write First comments (couldn't figure out why nobody else had posted yesterday), then realized everybody was somewhere else--here!

    I had a good week on the Write First challenge. Wasn't wooed by the Internet or email for 2 days because I had early morning surveillances, so I wrote on my Alphie while watching the rear-view mirror...two birds with one stone. Drafted 20 pages.

    Did a lot of revising on two earlier chapters at home. Total pages this week: 35.

    At home, I will research the Internet when I'm writing, but I count that Internet time as writing time.

    It's great to be part of a challenge with a group of writers. Keeps me going. Anybody else trying to finish a ms. by September?


  29. Colleen,
    Glad you found us.

    35-pages is impressive!

    I finished a first draft today - at least I finished FOR THE FIRST TIME the draft today. And hope to have altogether by Sept.-October.

  30. Donna, hurray. NINE interviews! You're incredible. We can't do everything--some of this has to do with prioritizing. So--great job! (And I can't wait catch up in person this Dec.)


    And as for you, Jan--jumping up and down!! Fantastic!