Sunday, January 23, 2011

Writers' Challenge 2011 WEEK ONE

JAN: So I completed my first week of the Challenge and am feel just so superior to my old self (which is really the reason we do these, right?) even though I had to cheat, just a little.

The admission: Because it was my blog week, I had, just had, to go online and peek at Jungle Red Writers to make sure the blog I posted for the next day actually went live. This turned out to be a good thing because one day I'd screwed up the AM/PM thing and the blog hadn't posted yet, so I had to go in and fix it. But I immediately started writing after that and MOST IMPORTANTLY, for me, I didn't check email.

The tools: I used my I-Phone to time myself and a chart (printing out the weekly calendar on the computer) to track the time spent writing without Internet interruption. Once I got a phone call I had to take, so I stopped the timer and restarted it. The only problem with the I-PHONE timer going off was that it reminded me it was now okay to check email, when I might have gone on longer without noticing. The chart was not as much as a motivator as I had hoped (Sorry Hank), but I'm going to give it another week.

Productivity: Hard to gauge because I'm rewriting and while I rewrote more actual pages last week, I was also rewriting a part of the book that didn't need much rewriting. Now I'm revising the end which needs a lot of work. But I'm loving the time length instead of page quote because I'm slowing down to really think about character reaction and word choice -- where I wouldn't if I were trying to make a quote.

How about you? Share your success and challenges! And if you're on Twitter and want to share there use #JRWRITE FIRST. (But you have to comment here three times here on Sunday's JRW blog to be entered in prize contest. I can't keep track of Twitter too!)


  1. Ack!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    How'd I miss last week's post?

    Getting off line right now to do my 45 minutes. I needed this yesterday when I piddle farted around rather than write.

    Good news is I've been getting my words in daily. But forcing me to write first, that's the magic.

  2. Okay, this was easy. I started very early this week, up before four o'clock, and got in over two hours each day -- seven of seven -- before checking my email. (No one ever emails me anyway). I am a very disciplined guy, plus my dog kept barking at 3.

    Write First!

    Did another two-hour session later on each day as well. Rewriting; some trimming, but overall added content totalling 1,450 words this week.

  3. This was a great week, Jan. The challenge made a big different.

    My biggest tool related insight was the idea to quit out of my browser the night before and open my manuscript. That way, it was the first thing I saw when I sat down to my computer the next day.

    It was a good thing I did that, because I discovered that I have a habit of opening the browser as soon as I sit at my computer. This challenge broke that habit.

    As to timing my writing, I just noted the time and then the end time. I tend to get lost in the work as long as I don't interrupt myself to go check Facebook or Twitter.

    I did allow myself to go to to check out street names, street views, etc. I like to get those details right even in my first draft.

    The challenge added huge value between chapters. Usually, I'll finish a chapter and jump onto Facebook. Instead, I forced myself to start the next chapter. I prefer to end my writing each day in the middle of a chapter if possible, that way I can just pick up the thread.

    This is very cool!

  4. Comment 1, Week 1...well begun is half done, or so the saying goes. First, let me publicly thank Deb Crombie for sharing the contest info with me. She's been such a supporter of my efforts to get this $#@%!! novel done I don't know how I'll ever repay her. Great idea to have us stick our butts to the chair for a fixed time period everyday. I'm 100% compliant for the week and discovered that I won't die if I don't check email/facebook/etc. first thing out of bed in the morning. Writing at the crack of dawn is almost as good as... (fill in your favorite first thing upon awaking activity). Look forward to hearing from the rest of you!

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  6. Ray,
    I think I'm going to borrow that trick with the browser.

    Jack - I admire your discipline -- 4 a.m. Yee GADS. I'm much better at writing late into the evening then getting up early, so I really admire people who can get up early.

    Lynn -- Sorry you missed last week, but its never too late.

    I'm at the Vineyard where I still managed to get my 45 mintues in yesterday, but may give myself today off -- OR write on the ferry -- another possibility. I'm inspired by you guys!


    And that was page QUOTA I meant in the post, not page QUOTE. But for some reason, Blogger won't let me go in and correct (like it usually does) because the only access I have to the net out here is via IPAD.

  7. Welcome Stephen,
    I'm glad you found us (I'll have to thank Deb). Doesn't it feel great not to check your email?? It's just a really, really, bad, habit, at least for me. And I tell myself -- the longer I wait, the longer there might be some email I actually want to read.


  8. Jan, I'm with you on the email. I think I should change the phrase to "delete spam"instead of "check email."

  9. I can't thank you all enough for the challenge. I had revisions to do...and I don't like revisions, because I hate to admit I wasn't perfect the first time through. Or the second. Now, my daughter's writing group has been kind enough to give me their take on the first 50 pages, so I'm heading back to the beginning once more. It's interesting to me to read their perspectives because they've pointed out things to me that others haven't as well as those that I didn't think needed fixing. Jump started my brain :o) And I've come to the conclusion that the villain in my second book is now the victim...set up for murder rather than the "murderee". What works for me is that my list of suspects doesn't need to change...except for the villain of course. I can hardly wait to see what happens this week! Oh...and go Bears!

  10. Good morning, Reds. I was very good. Mostly. One day, I had to go on line to Google some facts because my Muse dug in her heels and refused to add more words until I knew what I was talking about but I did NOT check email. I've been a ghost on Twitter (haven't even turned it on for three or four days now). Yesterday, I had to do some on-line banking first thing and ended up checking mail and blogs but didn't reply or comment until later and I did carve out no internet time later in the day and shut things down for two hours in penance. *wink*

    Tally? I averaged 1200 words in each writing period, and the days I could bump the time longer, ie. I was in the middle of a scene and the words kept flowing, word count came closer to 3K. I am making progress on a WIP that's been stale for quite some time and I'm very pleased. I'm expecting edits back from my editor before too long but I'll simply transfer working on that project for my 45 minutes and then get back to the WIP at hand.

    Ray has a good idea and one that I ended up doing as well. I also exited Tweetdeck so I wouldn't be tempted by those tweets popping up in a little window at the corner of my desk.

    I don't have any words of wisdom to add besides, "Just Do It."

    Heh. My spam word is "sychyphi." Do you supposes that's a psychotic succubi?

  11. Steve R and I made a nagging pact, but Steve obviously beat me this week. I did great Sunday through Thursday--at least three hours every day without going on line for any reason. I was revising and got through the 300 pages my editor had sent me, some of it tough rewriting.

    What I discovered was that if I didn't go online first thing, I could work for hours, and that even when I eventually took a break I wasn't all that eager to check email or FB. (Downside was that I didn't check into JR until late in the day.)

    On Friday I had a guest arrive from out of town, so knew I'd be off schedule for a few days. But next week I'm back on the challenge schedule, and I'm sticking to it!

    And YAY Steve! Finish the #$@%^ BOOK!

  12. This is my "day off," and online early. My mistake this week seems to be having changed my writing times to afternoon. It didn't feel right and think I need to revert to last year's time. But happy to say 45 minuets is never enough. Thank you!

  13. Challenges: I’m finding it difficult to write new pages on this challenge. I have to find an answer as to why this is happening. Yesterday two of our adult kids arrived unexpectedly so I didn’t get any writing done at all. I suppose I could count that as my day off, but I hadn’t planned to take days off. Critique group should be back to work next week that will make my life easier.

    Successes: I did manage to edit or rewrite everyday but yesterday. However, two of those days I edited someone else’s work, for many (3 and ¾ hours) hours. Not sure if that counts.

    Productivity: I did write a 5 page non-fiction article, added 2 ½ new pages to short stories, and spent 6 hours and forty-five minutes editing and rewriting which is a lot more work than I normally complete in a week. I do find having to report here makes me work harder.

    Confession: One day I slipped and read my e-mail first but I did get my writing done later in the day. And today, I have not written as yet. I have to organize what I’m working on for this week. I’m okay with time because son, who visited yesterday, brought dinner. All I have to do is make spaghetti to go with his bolognaise sauce.

    Tips: I learned from the last challenge that I need a plan of what short stories ideas I want/need to work on. I also have a list of which stories need my additions, which have to go out to critique group, and which new ideas need research before I can work on them.

  14. As much as I enjoyed this week, having the day off option feels great. Time to recharge with some light reading and heavy FOOD.

  15. Mariann, Ann, and Silver James, I'm glad its working for you. It works for me -- to keep me offline - but next week I have to attack other distractions.

    Deb, that's basically what I found. As long as I didn't START online, I coud stay off. Once i got on, I was a goner.

    Pat - It's okay to use your day off to take care of unexpected distractions. It doesn' t seem odd ot me that you didn't get as many pages as you wanted done, it sounds like you were very busy with other projects.

    I was able to rewrite for 40 minutes on the ferry on the way home, but I'm still counting today as my day off.

    Will be posting during the week at #JRWRITEFIRST and would love to hear from you there if you have new tricks or need support.

    And Steve - I think a day off always feels better when you were productive.

    There's something so depressing about falling into the trap of what Lynn describes as "piddle farting around."

  16. This week was great.

    I made the 45 minute goal everyday, and a couple of days I went for three hours! Mostly I go at least an hour. My daughter gave me the Soundtrack to Sherlock Holmes (the movie with Robert Downey Jr.) which runs an hour. It's all instrumental music except the very last track which has some Irish singing. I know when the singing comes on, its a good time to wrap up what I'm doing. I love it because the music drowns out other noises-like cats, that would be distracting, but being instrumental it is not distracting itself. Also, hey, its SHERLOCK HOLMES, for a mystery writer its pretty inspiring.

    I found out that the world would not come to a standstill if I don't check e-mail first thing, or if I did my writing before household chores.

    Thanks so much for this challenge!

  17. Ok, The Sherlock Holmes Soundtrack post was mine- I accidentally hit post before I typed in my name. I had a kitten crawling up my leg- got a little distracted.

  18. I have to admit that this is a pretty easy challenge for me. I get up every morning and write first anyway, BUT I posted the challenge on my Facebook page. My sister, a writer when she "finds" the time, saw it and said, "Okay, fine! I'll get off of Facebook!" and she wrote for an hour and a half! Yay!

  19. I'm feeling pretty good too. I actually asked my husband -once - if he thought it was okay for me to check messages on my phone when we were in transit. But othert than that I've been good. Thanks for keeping me on the straight and narrow! It does mean I've been checking emails at midnight, so apologies to anyone I've gotten back to late this week.

  20. I only have 500 words to show for the two days since I took up the challenge, but those are the only words of new fiction writing I've produced in 2011. (I still have Christmas decorations to put away, too.) I've started a new short story while some novel issues get processed through by subconscious, and part of my time was spent checking for consistency with two earlier stories in the series. I didn't work much beyond the 45 minutes, but hope to be more productive later this week.

    I do allow myself to look at the list of new e-mail messages, because I missed one reminding me of a deadline early this week. I know who those will come from.

    And, Jan, speaking of the subconscious... I remember dreaming last night about chaperoning a bunch of Boy Scouts for pre-Olympics events in St. Louis. I marched them by the shoppping mall between two facing lines of geese. Some were Canada geese and others stood upright wearing pith helmets, uniforms and boots with spats. Then we all got on a bus and turned on an old-fashioned wooden radio to catch the Olympics news. I did not make this up. Who could?

  21. The chart is just a gold-star thing! Yes or no,did you do your words. (Or, for some of you, your time!)
    I keep a chart with my daily goal (540 words a day at least, at least 1000 on weekends) and then fill in the the numbers. It's so gratifying--I can't live without it!

    I"m SO proud of everyone!!

    Oh, JAck, if I could get up that tempting! Except when that alarm goes off...

  22. I was not quite so successful as others reporting in about the challenge. 45 minutes of writing was no problem - took care of that after I got home from work in the evening. The not checking email was the hardest part. I do it so automatically when I turn on the computer that a couple of days the email was on screen before I realized what I did. So this week I'm going to try writing before work in the morning. Maybe changing my routine will help curb my email habit.

  23. I had a step up on the challenge, already on board with writing first, Internet after.

    Where I had to knuckle down was on days when I had limited time to write. If I couldn't carve out a couple hours of uninterrupted writing time, I'd figure there wasn't time to get into the story, and take a raincheck.

    The big revelation - I can, and I did, accomplish a lot when writing against a 45-minute deadline. Having that "Challenge" eye looking over my shoulder served to step up my focus, to the extent that I wrote my way out of a slump in Chapter 22 that had been dogging me all week.

    Onward and upward!

  24. My post left at 8:18 came out titled "anonymous" - must've messed up.

    Sue Ellen

  25. I would just like to say ditto to most of the comments. I've logged more than 5,000 words this week and staying off the internet was the key but it killed me. I get so frustrated when email numbers are over 100 and I feel I will never get to them all. I'm trying to say "oh well." The good news is I can't wait for the new week to start and add more words!
    W.S. Gager
    P.S.: The only time I went on the internet before the 45 minutes was when we had the snowstorm and had to check and see if kids had school, then went right back with no email! Amazing for me!

  26. My very first day of the challenge began with my checking e-mail!!!
    I couldn't believe it. I felt like such a loser.

    I couldn't wait until Day 2 to begin again and I did so with GREAT success. I sat at my computer with my yummy fleece pj's, wrote for two hours - TWO HOURS - and did some rewriting from the previous days work. After that it was a piece of cake, except for one other day, too busy to write OR check e-mail.

    Thanks for the challenge, Jan. Keeping track really makes you aware. It's like keeping a food diary,who knew?

  27. Almost forgot to check in today, but I have managed to ignore the lure of email and write at least 45 min/day, usually stopping around the 1 hr mark.

    I was interrupted twice by a client bleating about something that had to be done right now right now oh god the sky is falling, but I dealt with it as quickly as possible and went back to my book.

    I'm both revising and writing - revising because I've been away from my novel for so long, I can't remember what I've written and what I've just planned to write. I'm around the 47K mark, so have a good chunk done.

    I'm checking in daily on Twitter (I'm puzzlehouse).

  28. P.S. Why stop at an hour? Damn day job.

  29. Kelly, that is such a great thing..I'll get that soundtrack. too..

    It's such an inspiration to hear from you all..

  30. Great job everybody!
    I would like to say the same about myself, but... I failed miserably. I did do really good on day 1. But starting from day 2 it went downhill from there. For some days I did manage NOT to go online, but what I ended up doing instead of watching movies, reading... Everything BUT writing. Well, there is week 2. I am going to try much harder this week. So I will have some progress worthwhile to report next Sunday.

  31. It's so great to hear so much success from so many people.

    Jane -- you'll do better next week! I hope to do better next week, too, and FINISH my almost final draft.

  32. Jan,

    I meant to post a comment yesterday, but was actually too busy writing. As a SinC member, we are often reminded to get our name out there. My problem is that I spend too much time on-line. Your challenge was what I needed to get me back on track. I've blogged today about your challenge at

    Thanks for the wake-up call.

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