Sunday, January 16, 2011

Writers' Challenge 2011

JAN: Okay, you've had your holidays, your stuffed turkey, eggnog and New Year's champagne. Now it's time to get back in shape -- writing wise.

Maybe the rest of you are adults who can discipline yourselves, but not me, I'm a teenager at heart and NEED peer pressure. So here it is: a new SIX-WEEK WRITERS' CHALLENGE. In some ways, just like the Writers' Challenge that was so popular last summer. in other ways changed.

Here's how it's the same: There will be prizes.

Here's how it's different: This time we're awarding three signed ARCS -- that's right, hot off the presses ARCS of soon to be bestselling mysteries from Julia Spencer Fleming, (One Was a Soldier), Hallie Ephron (Come and Find Me ) and Rhys Bowen (Bless The Bride). As if that weren't enough, we also have a signed, out-of-print hardcopy of Deborah Crombie's Now May You Weep, and a copy of Drive Time, the last in Hank Phillippi Ryan's award-winning Charlie McNally series.

Here's what else is the same:
Because the seductive nature of the Internet must be repelled at all costs, and because the hardest part of writing is getting started, you MUST put off opening your email or checking whatever else you habitually, maybe even neurotically, check before writing. It doesn't matter if you write in the morning, or late afternoon or evening when you get back from work. You have to start writing BEFORE you go online.

Here's what else is different.
In the last challenge, you had to write a page a day before checking the Internet. In this challenge, you have to stay at your computer, focused and working, for a solid 45 minutes before you check the Internet.

What happened to the page quota? Last time, there were a lot of people who weren't working on first drafts. They were revising. Or writing synopsis. Or plotting out character growth. It was hard for them to get excited by one page.

Just like last time, the point is not to limit yourself to one page or 45 minutes. The point is to use that 45 minutes to trick yourself into getting started. We're happy if you're one of those thousand word-a-day people (HANK), but we're also thrilled if you are making those time consuming mental break-throughs, or pushing through the torture of a synopsis or diligently rewriting chapters.

Here's something else that's different. I'm taking pity on you. I'm giving you ONE DAY off a week. Saturday, Sunday, maybe a Wednesday snow day. Take it, guilt free. You're allowed.

Participants must sign up on the comments page anytime this week. But besides your first name, please give us an identifying last name initial or a nickname, especially if you have a popular name, say like Laura or Jennifer or especially KATE. When we count comments and award prizes we need to know which uniquely individual Laura, Jennifer or Kate you are.

You must join me on Sundays to check in on progress and comment at least three out of the six Sunday blogs. From that pool, three names will be drawn at random, and prizes assigned. There will also be a prize for most inspirational, and most-honest.

Come on everybody, be courageous. Take the plunge. Sign up. The only thing you have to lose is wasted time.

(You can also follow us during the week on Twitter, search for: #JRWRITEFIRST.)


  1. I'm in. This will help with my New Year's Resolution-finish my first draft.
    Elaine D.

  2. Im in, I'm in. DOne. SOld. And those prizes sound great. (Okay, fine, I won't be eligible for prizes. Sigh.)

    But I wll write first! Starting tomorrow. of course, since today I already did this. Does that count?

    Yay, writefirsters!

  3. Well, I'll just step up as the first person to fail this challenge, as there is no way I can not check my email first thing in the morning. However,I can aim for the 45 minutes of straight writing, *after* I check email.

    I'm happy to encourage other people who have more willpower than I do, though.

  4. Yay, Jan!

    I'm in! This time for real. The 'prize' will be PROGRESS! For the record, I'm on page 55 of a new manuscript that hasn't got a name yet that I'm willing to share. Hoping to at LEAST double my page count.

  5. OK. I'm in. Enough with "I'll just look at the web to get warmed up" excuse.

  6. Count me in as well. This is just what I need to get on track with turning my NaNo novel into the novel it could be.

    Thanks, Ramona, for pointing the way.

  7. taftskoSounds like a kick in the pants to get me back to work on the second well as a final pass on the first. And I promise NOT to check my e-mail first :o)

  8. Jeez, Jan. You really know how to kick a procrastinator when she's down! *wink* Okay. Count me in. With a project being shopped by my agent, The Only's wedding wrapped up and done (no more MotB moments for me, lol), I need to get back into the saddle. I have a project that's been on the back burner for way too long so I'm going to drag it out and get started on the rest of the story. However, checking email isn't my bugaboo--it's checking blogs! No JRW until after my first cup of coffee and 45 minutes of work. *sigh* I'll see you back here next Sunday!

  9. I'm hooked. Is this all I do to sign up, plus get to writing. Love the idea. Thanks, Anne Randolph

  10. Count me in.

    I love the 45 minutes. I've been trying to do this since January 1st and I am so bad at checking the e-mail first...then the blogs. I had days I sat at the computer most of the day and did nothing but stare at the page or go online. I guess I need to check in here for my 12-step writing program.

    I'm not sure how many stories I have to edit or rewrite but I pledge to try to write one new page a day and edit or rewrite for 45 minutes.

  11. Dear Dog, yes, I need this kick in the pants. I'm in.

  12. I'm in. I NEED you Jan!!! Last summer I failed miserably, but not this time!

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  14. Count me in too. I have a manuscript that is in the editing phase.

  15. Hi guys,
    I've been at a yoga thing all day, and came back so happy to find this terrific turnout.

    Actually during yoga I had this fabulous idea -- borrowing a bit from Hank's love of charts - to ween myself off email-distractions. I'm going to make a printout of my daily calendar and CHART how long I stay I last between checking email or online. Starting tomorrow with the 45 minutes and rewarding myself if I can make that email-free time grow.

    I'll be tweeting about how it works all week. If you're interested follow me
    @janbrogan and #writefirst

  16. I'm in! Do I get a head start because I wrote two and a half hours before checking email today? (Actually I still haven't checked my email.) What a great challenge, Jan, and I so desperately need it. I'm revising this week, but the next week I'm going to (NOT "hoping to") make real progress on the new book.

    Great idea on the chart, too. I usually record my page count, but having to be honest about the time spent writing before going online is an extra boost.

    My goal is a hundred pages by March 1st. Fingers crossed.

    Good luck, everyone!

  17. JAn, I bet that'll work! I'm all about my charts. It's very gratifying to SEE the progress. Can't wait to hear how you like it..

  18. I'm in. I know I have 45 minutes a day for this... Without a conscious effort to change course, all those 45 minute possible writing periods turn into useless TV/ Facebook/ etc. periods... and then I wonder where all my time went! Duh! I need this. Thank you.

  19. I'm in as well. If not now then when. This will help with my intention also to finish revising my first draft.

    Georgia W.

  20. Welcome Jenn and Georgia!

    Anyone who is "in" please Facebook, Tweet and retweet! The more people we get, the more fun it usually is.

  21. Deb,
    A hundred pages by March 1??

    You'll be my new hero.


  22. I'm in! The last two weeks I keep getting sucked into the internet and not getting spit back out until I'm asleep on the keyboard! Love the 45 minutes! Would like to finish Book 3 in my series by end of January. This could help me do it!
    W.S. Gager
    Now I have to go to Facebook to post and I'm afraid I won't come out...

  23. Jan, I'll be my new hero, too, if I can do even close to that, especially considering that I think I'll have two copy edits in February. But, hey, no goals, no progress, right? I want to finish this book by September, which will be an all time speed record for me, so I'd better start as I mean to go on.

  24. Yikes, count me in. You're right, Hank, those prizes do sound great.

    I might actually finish something.

  25. I'm in. I really need this challenge. I'm revising/polishing a manuscript so I don't need a word/pages per day challenge. But too often I go into my office to work and check my e-mail, then see who's on Facebook, then read a blog or two, and then the mornings half gone. Also, some challenges started right on the New Year, and I still had kids home from school.

  26. I'm in for more reasons than there are blogspot sites devoted to writing. It looks daunting and the write before getting online will be a bit like toilet training combined with kicking an opium habit, as I imagine it at least...but yes, I am in.

  27. Okay Jan, I'm in. I don't know what I'm doing but it sounds like fun. Where can I find the rules? Do we send our words to anyone?

    Please let me know, it sounds like fun.


    ~ Dianne/skippydancer

  28. Welcome everyone --

    Diane, you don't have to send in your work, you just have to come back every Sunday if possible and in this comments page tells us about your progress - or your obstacles to progress, the trials and tribulations and temptations are all something we can share.

    If you comment at least three out of the six Sundays, you are eligible for a prize (Reread today's post for prize info)

    Glad to have you aboard.

    Stephen -- I love the way you sized up the many reasons!

  29. Hi, I hope it is not too late to sign on, but I am in, too. It would be an extra challenge for me, since this would require me getting up at least 45 minutes earlier. So I can write on the computer for 45 minutes before work, since my job requires me to check email frequently. We’ll see how long this resolution last. But hopefully I will get some writing done.

  30. Jan, Love the new rules. Yes, I join with pleasure. Best to all writers first!
    Ann Oxford

  31. Hi Jane,
    No, it's not too late to sign on, welcome. And glad to have you back, Ann!!

    It's almost two o'clock and I haven't checked my email yet!

    Feeling so virtuous as I fill in my chart!

  32. Okay, count me in.
    I'm over half way through a first draft and can use the extra boost in reaching the finish line.

    Sue Ellen

  33. Oh boy--I'm in. I can use the kick in the pants. . .I mean incentives to write without guilt. Pamela O.

  34. I'm in. I've got 3/4 of a book written and keep finding excuses to not work on the ending. I need to finish that first draft. Tiger

  35. Sue-Ellen, Lexie's Mom, and Tiger
    Glad to have you aboard. It's amazing what peer pressure can do!


  36. What a great challenge! Thanks so much! These rules are great--just what I need!
    Lyn G.

  37. Hi Jan,

    Off to a late start but I'm in for the six week challenge! For the record, I do freelance writing and have clients on the east coast, I live on the west, so I DO check my email every morning first thing. However, I promise to only answer those client emails and then close the thing down to do my 45+ minutes. I hope this isn't cheating but I won't be able to relax unless I make sure there aren't any fires to put out.

    Also, how in the heck do I put a picture on my profile? Technologically challenged, as always.

    Thanks for doing the six weeks! Karen

  38. Hi Karen,
    Welcome. We'll give you a pass. But no CHECKING after that.....

    To get a photo, I think you go to Google and open a Google account.

    Anyone have more detailed instructions?

  39. I'm doing it. (Positive attitude.) I didn't write anything new this year (work doesn't count) until yesterday. You all have permission to kick me if I drop out.

    Mo Walsh

  40. If it's not too late, I'm in. I have so many deadlines this year I need all the help I can get in keeping myself in check.


  41. I'm not going to do this officially, but I think I'll do my own version. I'm not a morning person and write best afternoons and nights.

    I should shut down internet access during my writing times, though. I think that will be a great help to me and this is an inspiration for me to do that!