Sunday, August 8, 2010

Writers Challenge - UPDATE

JAN: I'm thrilled with the response to the Writer's Challenge, which was more than 50 brave participants as of three o'clock Saturday. And I'm amazed at how many of you, like me, needed both a kick in the butt, and some discipline to get away from the Internet.

What challenge?
In case you missed Friday's post, here's the shorthand version: You have to write one page every single day (even weekends) before you check your email or go on the Internet for any reason. For six weeks. There are variations for people who have to go to work so early they can't write first, and for screenwriters. Scroll down to Friday, August 6th post for details.

We've also decided you can sign up late, as long as you make up the lost pages. Actually, you can do whatever you want, how would we ever know?? But, we're relying on the honor system. And of course, your desire to write more consistently and at a higher quality.

To qualify for prizes, you have to comment at least three times, updating us on your progress, your obstacles, your solutions, your eureka moments. Please post your comments on Sundays. Otherwise, it might get lost, as topics change during the week.

JAN's Day One (that was yesterday) experience:
I'm a lunkhead who stays up late reading --All Souls by Michael Patrick McDonald kept me up until 1 a.m. last night -- so I usually like sleep on Saturdays. My husband and I had an appointment to see a house on the south shore at 11 a.m. which meant we had to leave home by 10 a.m. To do my page first, I made the supreme sacrifice and set the alarm for eight o'clock. I went straight to my laptop in my jammies. Because I'd left the screen open to Jungle Red Writers comments the day before, I had to immediately switch out of the Internet and into Word. Then I wrote a page, which actually turned into a page in a half. And a good page and a half at that. Although I couldn't do my yoga first, my husband very kindly made me a latte, which greatly assisted my productivity.

It was about 11:30 when I realized, I'd gotten so carried away with writing, I forgot to eat breakfast. So guys, I wound up having breakfast at 2 pm yesterday. And you know what?? It tasted better because I'd done my Writer's Challenge page for the day!!

So if you really want to enjoy every bite: WRITE FIRST!!

NEWS FLASH (As if you needed any other incentive than the sheer joy of productivity)

Rhys Bowen, our blog mate vacationing in the south of France, has graciously offered to give away a signed copy of her newest Lady Georgie book, ROYAL BLOOD, which comes out Sept 7th. Hot off the presses!

To recap: First prize, drawn randomly, is first choice of Rhys' new book, or any of the books below. I'm also offering a free critique of whatever you wrote during the challenge. (sixty page maximum) But this is totally optional -- you don't have to show anyone your work if you don't want to.

Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel, (Hallie Ephron)
Teaser (Jan Brogan)
Dead Head (Rosemary Harris),
Air Time, (Hank Phillippi Ryan)
Asking for Murder (Roberta Isleib)

There's second and third prizes,also drawn randomly from comments, as well as a prize for the most inspired, insightful and helpful comments. Winners will be awarded one of the books above.

ALSO, if you've signed in as "anonymous" for comments, and want to be entered in the contest for prizes, please give us a way to distinguish you from other anonymous commentators. It can be simple as Anonymous #3 or whatever.

To refresh yourself on the details of the challenge, scroll down to August 6th post.

And go out to that keyboard tomorrow morning and KICK BUTT!!


  1. Am I first? I guess so, so here goes. I have done a couple of pages each morning. I've been writing by longhand, which I enjoy. I'm working on the second half of a short story. I submitted part 1 to my critique group, but I've been unable to decide which way to take it, so I am writing alternate endings. My group will help me decide which one works best. It's been fun.

    Here's something else, which is personal, but I hope is okay to add. Last week (Wednesday), I had to have my old dog put down. It was fast and unexpected. My habit for the past 12 years has been to stumble out of bed, let her out, pour coffee, and then because I'm such an early bird, we spent a quiet few hours together while I worked in my dining room or on the deck. Usually, she sat on my foot while I wrote or typed. Those were my most productive times. After Wednesday, I stayed in bed the next two days, thinking that I had no reason to wake up early anymore. Needless to say, I didn't get much accomplished. But thanks to this challenge, I got up early again yesterday, poured coffee, went to the deck and started writing. It was hard without the dog sitting on my foot, but I did it. Just those few days losing both my dog and my writing habit were bad. So thank you, Jungle Red, for the incentive to get back on track.

  2. Ramona, I know I've told you before, but I am so sorry about your loss.

    Anyhow, I just signed on yesterday afternoon, but I'd already written four pages for the day, so I think that counts as catching up. This morning I wrote my one page before checking the Internet and have hopes of adding at least three more pages to it.

    I admit, it was darned hard to ignore the siren's call of email and Facebook and Twitter. But as soon as I started reading and revising yesterday's work, I forgot all about those distractions.

  3. I'm a short story writer. Today is my first morning in the challenge. I picked up a story that I abandoned during surgery convalescence last year and wrote a little more than a page before I clicked onto the Internet. The entire time I was writing, I did have a feeling that I had to hurry, but I am hoping that in a few days this routine will feel normal.

    Ramona--so sorry about your dog.


  4. Ramona...I know that routine. So sorry. My husband calls our dog his I.T. expert. Whenver he screams about something that gone wrong on the omputer Max goes over to him and miraculously things get better.

    WELL! I did my page his morning. i realize it's just one page but what is that they say about a journey of 1000 miles???

  5. I'm so sorry for your loss, Ramona. Mine passed two years ago and I still find myself looking for her behind me as I move around the house.
    I began my first page this morning and before I knew it I had four pages. Pandora Radio is set to play some great smooth jazz through my earphones and away I go.
    It feels good to accomplish something so quickly in the a.m.

  6. Ramona, I'm so sorry to hear about your dog.

    I did three pages yesterday morning which is my usual weekday habit before I check mail. Today I did three and a half. I've been writing this way for a while because I find that there are always several emails in my inbox that need long answers and if I check email first I end up answering them, using up my prime writing time.

  7. I try not to work (write) on weekends, so if I do a page an a half before checking email/internet during the weekdays, does that count? I keep telling myself I'll do all my writing first and not check emails until after noon, but I never make it.

  8. I knew I wanted to sign up. Yesterday, Aug 7, I wrote a page while on the train into NYC for my RWA mtg. I'm on chapter 3 of a new suspense novel while I wait to hear about a revised full I have with an agent and a requested partial wanted after 8/25 by another agent. Gotta go now and write!

  9. HI Ramona,
    I;m so sorry to hear about your loss. My dog sleeps beside me when I write, too, and I can imagine the agony of losing her (and she's 15, I'm imagining it more and more.)

    But I'm glad to hear the challenge is helping you recover, if only in a small way.

    Stephanie and Darlene, so glad to hear from you!!

    Laura, I don' t know what to say. I'm doing weekends myself for the first time because I think it will really keep my head in the story, better, so that's why I set the challenge up this way. But I think the overall goal is productivity, so you decide. The Writers Challenge POLICE will not come to your door with a billy club, I promise.


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  11. HI Tanya,

    Welcome to the challenge. Sounds like you had a great start!!


  12. I adore this challenge! Nothing makes me love my life like producing new pages first thing in the morning. It makes me feel like everything else in the world is going right. Thanks to the challenge I am five pages into a brand new novel I've been outlining for months but not starting.

  13. Welcome Jessie,
    So glad to be of service!! Thank you for joining us. And thanks for your enthusiasm.


  14. SO, it was such a temptation to check email first! But I felt virtuous and stong, going right to my manuscript! And when I got my 250 words done, it felt great. And it happened so fast! And now I'm here, checking in. BRIEFLY. Because now I'm *writing.*

    I'm worrying: nothing is happening soon enough. I have to fix that. Can you go with just suspense, just the feeling of something-is-about-to-happen? For how long?

    Trying out third person. Finding it a bit difficult. "Who is saying this?" I keep asking myself. And it's past tense--"This story has already happened," I'm thinking. "So who cares?"

    Ramona, many hugs. She's still with you. And so are we.

  15. Hello everyone. We've decided to post updates of Challenge, (no rule changes, don't worry) on Twitter. If you want to follow us or post updates yourself,

    the hashtag is #Jrwritefirst


    (follow me at janbrogan on Twitter)

  16. Ramona, my heart goes out to you for the loss of your old friend and writing companion. Jan, this challenge is a marvel! But, Jesse said it best for me. I, too, feel like a new person. In control and productive -- which in turn makes everything else hum along, too.
    To my surprise, I had not touched my book since December '09 except to add excerpts as they came to me. So in order to familiarize my brain with the direction of things I edited (while adding parts of new pages and hope that counts) six chapters in the two days. And what's best about this? No fear of the blank white page and a new-found confidence that what I had written was my best. THANK YOU ALL!

  17. Jessie and Annoxford --

    I'm so glad its working for you!! I also feel better about myself when I produce something!! Rather than tweet or loiter in Facebook!


  18. I just heard about this contest and would love to play along. Thank you for providing a great motivation to get some pages done!

  19. Congratulations to all of you who are working so hard and so well! Ramona, so sorry about the dog--know just how awful that feels.

    Come back tomorrow you all (after you've written your page) and read about how we procrastinate. Lots of good things coming all week too:).

  20. I'm going to try this. On the novel I'm revising. And by revising I mean slash and burn. The darn thing is over 400 pages. Parts do not make sense. Parts must be eliminated. So I'm going to write new pages to replace the chunks of useless text I excised. Does that count? Even though it isn't a new idea, this is harder for me because I want to date the New Shiny Idea that hasn't given me a headache and made me bite off my nails. But I have to finish this. So I'll do a page a day.

  21. lora96--good for you! When you cme up with an edited pag with new stuff--that counts! Hurray!

    Write First!

  22. It's still Sunday, right? After going to bed at 11 pm last night and fully intending to sleep until at least 7, I was wide awake at 5 with ideas for my next page for the challenge. Great. What else to do but just get up and get writing? So in 2 days I've done 4 pages, most of the first scene in a new WIP. AND created my first writer blog/website. URL to follow once I fix a few more details. So far, so good.


  23. Yes, it counts!! Welcome Lora and KellyJ!!

    All projects welcome!!


  24. Edith,
    It sounds like you are rolling now!!

  25. First - Ramona, you have my deepest condolences. I dont knowwhat I'd do without my furry under-desk companion.
    Second - I'm in on this challenge! I actually did once live by this rule. However, I have developed the bad habit of reading the newspaper online first thing in the morning when I walk my dog (Boris). Nice way to wake up, not a nice way to get ready to sit down and seriously write. Saturday and Sunday, while I made the rounds, I thought about what I was going to write. Saturday was two solid pages. Sunday, my day off, was just sketching story. Tomorrow will be three to four pages. What a difference a good start makes! Thanks for the kick start!

    -Lynn Sheene

  26. I always thought my backside was well-padded until I found out how much time I need to spend in front of a computer to complete a novel. The page inspiration is working for me because, after a page, I think how bad was that and keep going. I also bribe myself with a peach after two hours.

  27. Ok, I get writing first before going to the internet, but what about the baseball game? Two nights in a row I got sucked into dramatic baseball games by our Giants and had to force myself to turn it off to go write. Got two pages done, need to catch up.

  28. Allson,
    I fight the baseball demon too. Red Sox. Day games on the weekends are hardest. But remember, THEY ARE long. You can write a page in three, four innings and still catch the end.

    Pauline, I'm glad the page requirement is inspiring you. Peaches would work for me, too.

  29. today- august 12- is the day i was able to begin The Challenge, and seeing as how yoga is my main focus, i'm going to add a yoga practice component to my challenge (which is actually harder for think, especially when said yoga teacher's husband is simultaneously trying to coordinate wifey's 50th birthday party AND deal with the foreign publication rights of his upcoming anthology. we SO need a shared assistant. or something).

    i do have some comments + questions. firstly, THANK YOU for allowing the pouring of coffee and the feeding of cats before writing. is using a size 16 font okay? and seeing as how my laptop sits in the path of thor-kitty's morning constitutional, do his feline musings, unreadable as they are, count as part of my word tally? waiting with bated breath... liza

  30. Hi Liza,
    It took a while (like when I got to the husband's anthology part) to realize it was you, the Liza. So happy you are going to join our challenge.

    Okay, I didn't deal with fonts. But at size 16 font, I'm going to say a page and a half before you check email or internet.

    Unreadable kitty musings, while inspirational, only count toward kitty's own word count. So NO.

    And just so you know, I did my sun salutation today BEFORE I started writing today and got three pages done before I checked my email.

  31. I have been writing anywhere from 1 1/4 to 2 1/2 pages per day. I have a chart to keep track of what I working on (short story writer) and how many pages each day.

    I have to admit that it is difficult not to peek at the Internet, but I'm making myself do it.

    I have to watch the food and meds problem tht doing the writing first causes. I really have to work now on eating before I go to the e-mail.

    I'll report in on Sunday. Thanks again for doing this challenge.

  32. Hi Pat,
    You're allowed to eat before you write. And take meds. The only thing you can't do is check email or go on the Internet.

    Take care of yourself THEN WRITEFIRST!!

  33. I can't believe how much writing I've accomplished by doing this. I'm up to 20K and I started with about 2K