First, let me say that the only reason you should write is if you can’t live without it. If you have stories living within you that are crying to come out, then your only option is to write. I once posted a tweet saying that I had a character in my head threatening to lobotomize me if I didn’t let her out. That is why I write.
Now that I have that out of the way, let’s get on to helping you find a reason to make writing a larger priority in your life. Let’s face it, life is tough, and it is hard to put aside the everyday trivia that keeps you from your craft. Especially when you get stuck and can’t figure out where your story is going next. So many writers need a challenge in order to give them the incentive to sit down every day and put words on the page. You can find lots of writing challenges out there. The two that I am going to talk about now are NaNoWriMo and ROW80.
NaNoWriMo is the reason that I decided to stop living my life in denial. For years I had been told by my mother that I should write a book. When I was in school I wanted to be an author. I even talked my college professor into letting me do a self-study course that would involve me writing a novel. I dropped out of college shortly after that and the novel never got finished, but you can see that at the time I thought it was important to me. So when I heard about NaNoWriMo years later I decided that it was time to stop making excuses and start writing. Of course, it helped that I had a friend that was also participating. Thanks Zombie Joe!
So what is NaNoWriMo? To be blunt, it is a month (November) in which you dedicate yourself to writing a work of fiction at least 50,000 words in length. To do this, you need to write about 1,667 words every day. I have to confess, when I tackle a project, I usually give it everything I can. That meant that I finished in three weeks. I had a complete story of 50,200 words by November 21. So what did I do? I started another one, of course. By the end of November I had written at least another 10,000 words on my current Work In Progress, Finding Valhalla. You can find samples of both stories on my Goodreads profile.
So NaNoWriMo got me hooked on writing. During November I spent a lot of my free time letting my characters speak through me to getting their story written down. I found that the outline that I had started in October didn’t help much as the characters starting taking over and telling me what they were going to do. I kept this up with my new story as well, and found that the work I had done on the first story helped me a lot as I wrote the second one. I also had a chance to meet other local authors. We were supposedly meeting as a group in order to focus on writing, but most of the time we ended up talking about our stories or anything else that we could think of.
The problem, though, is that after November I no longer had the incentive to write every day, and I started finding excuses to take a day off, then it was two days off, then before I knew it I had gone almost a week since I had written anything. But even though I hadn’t been writing, I still wanted to. I was addicted, and I needed to find a reason to keep going. Joe helped a bit by talking to me about his story that he is still working on. We also continued to meet occasionally to write and talk. And the new Twitter friends I have also encourage me to keep going. But still I needed more.
That’s when I heard about ROW80. ROW80 is short for “A Round of Words in 80 Days”. It was started by author Kait Nolan and is intended as a challenge for writers that also recognizes that you have a life. The challenge lasts for 80 days, and you set your own goals. You can find my goals listed on my last post. Another great thing about ROW80 is that it is an ongoing event. The challenge lasts 80 days, or most of the quarter, and then another one begins at the start of the next quarter. So I’ll be able to keep going as long as I want. ROW80 starts on Monday, and I will be posting status updates here on my blog twice weekly (Sunday and Wednesday), so you can keep up with me.
Please leave a comment if you participated in NaNoWriMo, plan on participating in ROW80, or if you have any other motivational techniques that help keep you writing. Now it’s time for me to get back to my writing!