Get out of your own way and just write!
I was definitely inspired by the National Novel Writing Month challenge but didn’t want to wait until November to try my hand at writing an entire book/novel start to finish in just 30 days, so I decided to just go for it!
So here I am starting up my own 30-day writing challenge – be prepared for some panic attacks and deep reflection regarding the validity of my sanity, I mean who really thinks they can bang out a novel (roughly 50-80 thousand words respectively) in just 30 days? Well honestly, I do. It may just be a rough draft, full of messy typos and run-on sentences but that part of the writing process is just as valid and important as the final stages of grammatically correct sentence structure.
I can guarantee it is going to be difficult to down right impossible at times, but the point of this challenge is not to glide through the writing process it is to discover what you are capable of when you step out of your comfort zone.
Step one: Identifying the problem
I am very skilled in the art of procrastination. For much of my college career, I would wait until the week (sometimes days) before a paper was due before actually sitting down in front of my computer. It sounds strange but being under that amount of pressure was invigorating, I had no time for over thinking my word choices I just wrote.
But that kind of procrastination can kill a writing career – If you have no deadline then what is motivating you to finish that novel you have been “writing” for the past three years?
This is especially important for those of us just starting out, without a publisher to keep us in check or an agent calling to check in the only motivator is ourselves.
So the first step to tackling the 30-day writing challenge is to identify where your weaknesses are so you can adjust your routine. Think of this process as reading a book, you are looking at the word choices and sentence structure to understand the author’s (your) motivations. The more you understand the motivations behind a particular action, the more you connect with the overall story (who you are as a writer).
Step Two: Creating a plan
Creating a plan of action can help to make the rest of the writing process flow more smoothly (hopefully). This may mean planning out each day individually, i.e. how many words you want to write and when you plan to sit down and dedicate time, or simply planning out some overall themes and characters you want to include. It doesn’t have to be the same process as other writers, it just needs to work for you and be consistent.
The one thing I have read time and again when looking for inspiration and advice on my writing career is consistency is key! Regular practice, and instilling the habit of actively choosing to sit and write does more good for your career than all the webinars and writing courses. You may learn a lot, but if you aren’t consistently writing then you aren’t going to improve.
I set up a reminder on my phone and computer to go off each morning – this helps to make writing a priority, I begin to actively plan my day around my writing rather than just saying I will fit it in if I have time.
Make your writing a priority, set reminders, block out time, create a story board, but most importantly find a process that works well for you.
Step Three: Write
This is the hardest part of any writing challenge, I think. I love the planning phase – character creation and world building are some of my favorite parts, but it is easy to get lost in all the little details. Which is why I decided to do the 30-day writing challenge. I wanted to stop bogging myself down in all the extraneous details and just get the story out of my head and onto the paper.
Giving the internal editors a break and allowing the good, the bad, and the unusual to exist together on the page. Don’t worry if the sentence doesn’t sound quite right, or you can’t think of the appropriate word. All of that you can fix, and will after you have completed the messy, tear stained first draft.
So just write, stop worrying what others will think, and just write. There is nothing you have written that cannot be edited, deleted, or embellished in later drafts.
Post in the comments section below about any writing goals or challenges you have taken up recently. How did they work for you? Was it a total success or not so much?
Everyone has a story to tell, and I would love to hear yours.
Best of luck!