Sunday, February 27, 2011

Writers Challenge Week Six

JAN: Well, its over. Done. We can all pat ourselves on the back for our efforts and calculate our word count and page numbers. Or maybe we just feel good about figuring where our story is headed - the hardest part of writing isn't writing, it's thinking.

Aside from practically finishing my novel (I'm halfway through the changes based on first reader comments), my biggest accomplishment has been the distance I've put between myself and my email.

I realized halfway through this, that urge to check email is directly connected to brain fatigue. In other words, it's just another way to space out or avoid hard work. Why waste any of that precious early morning caffeine time on email or any Internet vices?

Late in the afternoon, when the blood sugar dips, the temptation to check email or go online is still strong. Willpower weak. Maybe I'll have to invent a new challenge to address that!

How has the challenge worked for you, and how did you calculate your own success? So please, tell me how relieved you are that this is finally over and how much you accomplished a long the way. I'll be selecting names at random this week and announcing all winners next Sunday - so stay tuned!


  1. Write First: It's a great mantra while I'm making the coffee, and the challenge worked for me up until I finished the WIP two weeks ago. I did a complete rewrite, expanding my manuscript from 62,000 to 71,000 words. Write First is definitely the way to get a project done. It's a discipline I attempt all year. Thank you, Jan, for great reinforcement! I loafed all week again, though. No prizes for me.

  2. I think Jack's on target - especially for us with day jobs - write first is kind of like exercising early, it makes sure you get it done.

    I've been more productive this week. But I'm glad to have February behind me. I have four months before Nationals (RWA) and want to have several projects in my pocket so to speak to pitch.

    Thanks for the challenge.

  3. Everything changes. The unexpected surprises, sometimes delighting, sometimes horrifying. Spending the better part of the week battling pneumonia taught me that the simple act of drawing breath sometimes helps the mind to shut out distractions better than anything else. I added this to my practice: sit, breathe, write -- all with intention. However, when one feels ill to the degree of sensing the nearness of eternal shadows, the instant presence of comfort, both in my so-called real life and on the web, brings much ease. The best I could muster this week was light copy-editing of the previous five week's writing. I feel better now but definitely did not complete forty-five minutes a day at the keyboard and so end ineligible for prize consideration but still feel richly rewarded by this challenge. Thank you!

  4. I was also participating in the Guppies Chocolate Challenge, so both were encouraging. For CC, I clocked 62 hours of editing and 15962 new words.

  5. I went through edits, galley proofs, final page proofs, cleaning out my DD's room so I could assemble my new office furniture, assembled said office furniture, and began the migration from my cave of an old office to a new, warmer space with a window on the street and cable TV. Neither of those are conducive to writing.

    All of that said, I still managed to write myself out of writers block on one project and added close to 5K words plus worked about 1/3 of the way through editing an 80K project that needs to be about 85K and while I subtracted some bad stuff, I added n about 2500 new and good words.

    I can treat the internet like my water cooler now and not get sucked in. So long as I leaver twitter closed. LOL

    Thanks for the challenge Jan! And good luck to everyone. I'm now in the RWA PRO loops 50K challenge for Nationals. Hopefully, that will keep the impetus going now that this one is over.

  6. I spent six hours yesterday writing...this is the most intensive writing workshop I've been to and definitely a challenge to my vocabulary. Somehow I think the Write First challenge helped me by making me sit down and wake my brain up every day to the possibilities of words and plotting, so thank you, thank you. I also discovered a rather dark sense of humor this weekend, perhaps as a reaction to one writer's predilection for lofty words and overly descriptive rhetoric. While her grandma had cookies, mine had a gun. Her character's perfume brought memories of peace and serenity. My character's perfume triggered an allergic reaction and almost killed her visitor. My book is still in the editing process, I've started a new short story, and I don't really know how many words I've written, erased, and written again, but it's been an experience in putting aside temptation and hitting the keyboard while everything is still fresh, including me. Have a wonderful Sunday! (and Stephen, I'm glad you're feeling better...pneumonia is horrid any time of the year. Take care)

  7. The great thing about this challenge for me has been to banish the guilts.

    So often if I'm writing, I feel like I should be doing something else, if I'm doing something else, I feel like I should be writing. Blah! By doing the writing first, I feel like Ive "Marked it off the list" and I move on with my day. Most days, I go way over my 45 minute mark, or return to the work after Ive done chores,etc.

    I also strongly second what Jan said about e-mails, blogs and brain fatigue. Instead of mindlessly surfing, I'm trying to get up and out and taking a walk to clear my head-as much as the crappy weather will allow.

    Productivity? Oh yes- thats the great prize I have already won from this challenge! Ive cleared my desk of smaller projects- whew! and had a big one fall into my lap a couple of weeks ago and will finish the first round of work on that today or tomorrow.

    Thanks so much for offering the challenge!

  8. Well, I'm grateful for the terrific start although I didn't do so well at the end. I'll start again.

  9. I discovered something trying to meet the challenge - that if I go to my public library and sit up in one of the study carrels for 2 hours, I WRITE!

    No food, no laundry, no phone. I'm making it my new habit.

  10. Oh, it's so inspirational to hear from you all. I just love it.


  11. Stephen,
    Yikes, I hope you feel better, soon. I'm very interested in what you said about using breath before you write (I do yoga and meditation, so I'm right there with you) and will be trying it myself. Thank you for the tip.

    And Lynn, that's EXACTLY what it's like - exercising first to get it done. I did that when I first started exercising regularly. Now I'm so addicted to exercise I save it to later or at night as a treat for writing! (except Yoga, which I sometimes do in the morning because it does good things for my writing brain.)

    Kelly, if I can help just one person get over the GUILTS for ANYTHING, my job is done! Thank you.

    MaryAnn, enjoy your retreat!

    Jack - you are allowed to loaf all week after such productivity -- didn't you hear everyone telling me that earlier in the challenge!

    Lynn good luck at RWA with your project pitches. And Melissa, good luck with your guppies challenge.

    Silver - I be thinking of you and your water cooler every time I check email!!

  12. Stephen, been there done that year ago and I still remember the slow motion thing connected with lack of breathing. I’m glad you are feeling better and I’m amazed you could to anything else but concentrate on breathing.

    I put my time in this week but I have to admit it was because I was taking an online editing class. The homework lessons kept me in the game. I’m gearing up for NaNoEdMo which starts on Tuesday.

    I got a rejection on my mini mystery in Friday’s mail—character actions not believable. And here I was worried about the plot and final solution. Oh, well, I still have five romances there, 3 more mysteries to send out, and 7 more romances that need ‘one last’ read through. So thanks you, Jan, for a great six weeks.

    Oh, and before I forget, I’m still struggling with wicked Internet and putting the writing first. At least now, I’m more aware of my downfall times. As long as I get the writing done, I’ll cope, but I will still struggle to write first. Daylight Saving time may help.

    I'm out for prizes too because last week was a total loss, except for the learning experience.

  13. Steve, in my book you definitely deserve an award. And I'm so glad you're feeling better.

    All of you have been an inspiration these last six weeks, so thanks for sharing your tips and experiences.

    As for me, I'm not sure how I did on the challenge. It was a very muddled month, with an unexpected fifteen-day trip to London and all the prep and decompression involved. Plus two copy edits, one for the UK and one (almost finished!) for the US. But while I made very little page progress on the new book (in spite of my grandiose goals) I did WORK first, and I think I've gone a long way towards breaking the email/FB first habit. And I loved it! I also discovered that if I can get in that first forty-five minutes, I can keep going for a couple of hours.

    So I think I'll call it a measured success, and I'm looking forward to making WRITE FIRST my daily routine, period.

    Thanks bunches to Jan for putting us all on the path to righteousness!

  14. I stuck with the challenge, and wrote every single day, if not always for as long or as well-focused as I'd hoped.

    This got me to the end of a first draft - a couple more pages and I'm done.

  15. Hi Jan,

    I know I'm a day late in saying thank you for the writer's challenge but I didn't have internet yesterday. It was wonderful! Despite one little slip up I made it through the six weeks writing every morning and loving the discipline. More importantly, I've established a great habit I hope to keep. Thanks so much!