I have an addiction to writing challenges. There’s just something about a big group of writers all struggling toward “The End” and supporting each other along the way that really appeals to me. I always sign up for them. And I almost always fail to achieve anywhere approaching the word count expected of these exercises. Why? Well look at the options: NaNoWriMo (1 month), Fast Draft (2 weeks), MayNoWriMo (1 month). There are others, of course. But you get the idea. What do they all have in common?
They all demand that you ignore life for this short, specified period of time, put the book first and write.
That’s all well and good and admirable, but how many of you can check out of your life for two weeks or a month without dire consequences? I know I can’t.
Not to mention the fact that those kinds of word counts, and the notion of spewing words “just to get the draft down” makes exactly zero sense to me. I do NOT belief in the SFD (ahem, crappy first draft) method. I’m not a pantser, I’m a plotter. So just because there are words on the page doesn’t mean that I can simply edit them and make them okay if what happens in that scene is just straight up wrong because I just spewed without direction.
Relax, this is not intended to start another round of the never-ending Pantser vs. Plotter debate.
The one writing challenge at which I actually succeeded was 70 Days of Sweat. The challenge was 60-100k in 70 days. It pushed me beyond my usual daily goal of 500 words, but not so far that I had to blow off life. I loved this challenge. The pace, the inspiration, the community. Unfortunately, they haven’t done a round in over 2 years.
That’s why I’m starting A Round of Words in 80 Days.
As I sit here in the third week of NaNo, hopelessly behind (and not really caring) on my word count, I am dreaming of a saner, more reasonable writing challenge that’s reminiscent of my days with Sven (he was our mascot for 70 Days). A challenge that recognizes that I have a life I can’t ditch, but still provides a challenge and the support of a community of others who are working alongside me with their own goal, their own lives, learning to juggle.
Here’s what I propose:
- A challenge that happens 4 times a year with a break between sessions.
- Round 1 starts January 3, 2011 (because I like starting things on Monday and this way everyone can recover from New Year’s excesses) and runs through March 24th. (Round 2 would start April 4, Round 3 July 4–okay maybe rethink that–, Round 4 Oct 3–you get the idea).
- You have 80 days for your Round of Words
- Your goal can be anything you like as long as it is MEASURABLE. If you’re already in the middle of a WIP, that’s fine. Tailor your goal to suit that. You may even want to set mini goals (I want to finish the last 40k of this novel. Then I want to spend the last 20 days revising it at x pages a day.). There are a lot of elements to writing a book other than the writing itself. Plotting. Outlining. Character Interviews. Whatever. Set your goal to match wherever you are right now on your WIP. If you want to use your Round for editing a novel, that’s fine too. Just know that this is, at heart, a writing challenge, so all the weekly inspirational posts will be geared in that direction.
- There’s no mandatory daily word count. Every writer is different, everyone has different schedules. You set a goal that works for you. Find a way to make writing a priority in your life in a way that FITS. But set SOME kind of schedule and be CONSISTENT.
- Once Sign-Ups are open, you’ll make a blog post stating your measurable goal and swing by here to link to it in the Linky Tools list. If your goal changes because you’ve met it before the 80 days is up, just write a new one and link to it on a check in day.
- There will be twice a week check-ins on Sunday and Wednesday where you’ll update us via the same method. The idea here is that folks can travel around to everybody’s blogs and drop a supportive comment. We’re contemplating dividing into teams under each of the sponsors so that everyone has a manageable list of folks to visit once a week.
- On Twitter we’ll use a hashtag of #ROW80 so everyone can follow discussions (though if you’re not on Twitter, that’s totally fine too).
Finally, I am looking for more authors to help sponsor ROW80. Your duties as a sponsor would include writing an inspirational post, checking in on your team once a week, and, of course, participating in the challenge itself. Please email me at kaitnolanwriter (at) gmail (dot) com if you’re interested.
So how about it? Do you want a saner, more reasonable writing challenge? Will you join me for A Round of Words in 80 Days?