My writing group, Louisville Romance Writers, has established a tradition of celebrating March Madness (which is elevated to near-religious status around here) with a Writing Challenge.
Yup. Sort of like NaNoWriMo, which for the uninitiated, is National Novel Writing Month. But rather than setting a goal of 60,000 words, ours is a much more reasonable—nay, even sedate 25,000 word challenge. Of course, there’s nothing sedate about it when you’re the one madly tapping out new words!
New words. Not revised words.
And yes, it is a challenge. Everyone who chose to participate is busy. We all ‘have lives.’ And sometimes they are chaotic. But with the likes of Alison Atlee (The Typewriter Girl), Sandy Loyd (Winter Interlude and more), and Joan Kayse (The Patrician) participating, it promises to be a blast!
So why did I decide to throw my pen into the hat?
Because I’m a glutton for punishment? Well, not really. I actually like writing, so it’s fun. Usually. It’s really fun when I hit my daily goal within an hour and a half, first thing in the morning. Other days I’m still struggling to get there at bedtime, and I will admit it’s not so fun then.
But the real payoff for me is the discovery that holding myself to what seems to be an impossible standard (at first) has turned into a liberating opportunity to free myself from my perfectionist tendencies.
You can’t write fast when you’re agonizing over the best word choice or what should happen next. But the challenge forces you to ignore that inner critic and just go for it. Surprisingly, I don’t have to change much when I go back to read it later.
Even cooler, I’m learning to trust my process, my creative self.
And it’s also good to know that I can produce 1000 or more words a day. If I ever get published, I’ll need to be able to do that.
So, to my author friends: Have you done challenges like this in the past? Any NaNoWriMo alumni out there? (I’ve started that three times and petered out within days. Maybe next time…) What’s your payoff for expending the effort?
*The words in this blog did not qualify for my daily word count. If you’re interested, my word count since March 1 is 5,025. I have 19,975 left, and the end of the challenge is March 28. Think I’ll make it? Stay tuned! I’ll post an update or two.