On writing: a challenge

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On Writing

Before Christmas I (rather foolishly?) joined the 100k in 100 days challenge, aiming to write 1000 words a day, beginning on January 1st…

Of course the Christmas holidays and my (almost) blog break hindered my start somewhat and now, 12 days into the challenge I have written a grand total of 2991 words, largely because story-telling blog posts can be counted towards my total.

Obviously, I have until April to complete the challenge, and I never expected to write every day (or actually write 100,000 words!); I do have a life and small children. But, part of the aim of the challenge is to get into the daily habit of writing.

As someone who has only written short pieces to date, this is something that I am keen to develop; the ability to sit down and write for longer periods of time. And, to write longer pieces.

Being slightly obsessive about my blog, the biggest difficulty I envisage is setting aside time to write something, without the sole intention of publishing it on the blog. Reprioritising and carving out time to write purely for the enjoyment of writing.

Although, even as I write that, I realise it sounds as if I don’t love writing for the blog, which of course I do!

I also write poetry. Which does not generate a high word count. And, I’m not going to stop writing poetry…

This will be my first full week of trying to develop this new writing habit, and I know that it isn’t going to be easy, or happen overnight. I do wonder how others manage it? To find the time, while still eating/sleeping/entertaining the children.

This challenge is all about the habit of writing, not necessarily about writing a novel, so my piecemeal approach is fine. In theory. But, that is what I do now, and surely I should be using this as an opportunity to develop ideas and to write something more involved, alongside my usual pieces, rather than maintaining the status quo?

But, already I am wondering if I should admit defeat on writing anything longer than a blog post until the wee girl starts preschool and I have a few hours each day to devote. My opportunities to write are currently squeezed in around so many other things; my ability to concentrate and focus is severely hampered!

Or, should I stop procrastinating and leave the second guessing for now, and just begin?!

Muddled Manuscript

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28 thoughts on “On writing: a challenge”

  1. Wow that sounds like quite a challenge! I’ve managed NaNoWriMo a few times which is 50,000 words across a month but not sure I could sustain it for longer periods of time. It is good to get in the habit of writing regularly though. Good luck with your challenge :-)

  2. Best of luck lovely. I signed up for 20k words in July for Camp NaNo and failed miserably, I just can’t put that kind of pressure on myself with all the time constraints babies and small kids bring xx

    1. I think that’s why a daily target appealed to me, and I’m not putting too much pressure on myself about it x

  3. I would say that if you do fancy trying your hand at something longer (like a novel…) then breaking it into bite size chunks is the way to do it! This would mean a bit of serious planning to start off with (but the notes for that would count towards the challenge, right?), but then once you’ve got a ‘map’ then you should be able to sit down and just write. I used Scrivener and its daily word targets for both my novels and averaged around about 1000 words a day when I was working on the first drafts. Having planned everything out beforehand this took me about 1 1/2 hours – and obviously then what I’d written needed redrafting, but it was a definite start and it’s amazing how quickly it all build up. Good luck :) xx

    1. Thank you for such a useful comment. Still not sure I’m ready for a novel, but I’d like to develop some characters and ideas… :)

  4. I’m impressed with anyone who signed up for the 100k challenge! To got for it in the first place though, somewhere in your head there must have been the urge to write something more or different to just the blog. I’d follow that urge. You don’t have to put pressure on yourself to do something major but it’s amazing what can be achieved in small chunks of time (look how many blog posts you publish!!!). I can imagine you’d find it so satisfying to say “I wrote this!” at the end of the challenge. Go for it! Thanks for linking to #WhatImWriting

  5. I agree, don’t put pressure on yourself to commit to something major, but everything I’ve read from you on this subject says to me that you want to do more fictional writing and more developed writing. I’d just make a start on writing when you can for now and see where it takes you. I’ve found having a little more time now my son is at nursery has helped me out here a lot xx

    1. Yeah, I know that time is really against me at the moment, but if I can develop a writing ‘habit’ I’ll be in a good place when I have more time…

  6. I am finding it hard to keep track of my overall word total because my writing has been in bits and pieces. In a way, nano was easier as all you concentrated on was the novel. That said, I signed up to get in to a daily habit and it sounds like you did too. Sophie’s advice about those little pieces all linking together to form the bigger piece sounds like the way to go for you. Take heart in the fact that you are not the only one feeling like this.

  7. Alexandra Mayhew

    If you want to write a novel, then you can :-) But don’t put too much pressure on yourself- write when you can, when you’re feeling inspired and plan it out in advance. Keep a notebook nearby at all times so you can scribble ideas! Good luck, I’m looking forward to reading more and perhaps joining in with The Prompt if I feel brave! Lexie X

  8. Begin.
    You can do this, Sara. I’m used to doing it now – it wasn’t easy in the beginning. I’m used to losing evenings to my writing, and devoting myself to my story, but only because I’ve done it time and time again and now I’m addicted. It is like that. the more you do, the more you want to do.
    The great thing about writing a novel is that there is no pressure to show anyone. You don’t have to press publish and put it out there straight away. You can keep it to yourself, you can have sections that don’t work, you can have sctions that are, quite frankly, bloody horrible (I can send you some of my more cringeworthy phrases if you need something to look at and go “Well, this is pretty terrible, I’m sure I can do much better.”)
    I believe in you and your ability to creep closer to the target. If I’m honest, I’m not sure I’m going to do it either because I binge write.
    100k seems like such a lot when it’s all lumped in like that. 1000 words seems much more manageable. The average blog post is about 400 words but some are longer. The equivilent of 3 blog posts per day will take you over the word count easily. Doesn’t sound so bad like that, I guess?
    The hardest part is writing every day and keeping going when you don’t feel like it. I know I’ve been bad this week and missed a couple of days because I get burnt out writing between 2000 and 6000 words a night as well as doing a job and looking after children. It’s not easy, but you can do it! x

    1. Thank you Chrissie, I would love to make a proper start at developing some ideas… At least the aspiration is there :)

  9. When your children are little it’s hard to fit in the time. I used to try and write in the evenings which is okay for a blog post but tricky when it’s more complicated writing as I’m so tired by then. As my youngest increased her hours at pre school I was able to fit more in. Now she’s just started school I’m finding more time which is brilliant. I think you have to identify chunks of time when you can get writing done. But if they’re only small chunks then I wouldn’t put pressure on myself to reach a certain word count each day – the last thing you want to do is make yourself feel you’ve failed at something!

    1. I think that’s what I am finding frustrating, I want to do more, but time is most definitely not on my side and perhaps I need to just take a step back until my youngest starts preschool…

  10. Wow, what a challenge. I definitely respond better when I have a commitment to something, but also I hate failing so then rarely commit! Whether you do it or not, I think it’s amazing that you’ve started. Good luck! x

  11. That’s quite a challenge, but I understand your struggles with it. Having welcome distractions, like your little ones for instance, doesn’t really warrant the time for 100 words let alone 1000. I know this for a fact (and I only have one–you have three!!!).

    But keep in mind: writing is like a muscle. One must stretch it and work it out before it gets into the shape you want. Perhaps you can keep trying and see where it gets you. After all, the worst thing you write is far better than the best thing you didn’t write. Just keep putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), and do what you do best.

    I hope this helps. Good luck!

  12. My 30 minutes a day is doing me good so far and perhaps, if you have an idea for a novel, you could try that? So far I have managed 500-600 words each time I sit down to write, and this week it’s creeping up. Also when writing a novel you have to remember that it doesn’t matter if it’s rubbish, at least to begin with.

    Your challenge is interesting and at least you can include your blog posts in the count. Good luck hun. xx

  13. You should stop procrastinating and just begin Sara! ;) Have a non-procrastinating day – not actually devoting a whole day because it’s obviously not practical but bite-sized sessions where you ignore your social media and brain storm. Then expand on the brainstormed notes until eventually you have your piece of writing. It works for me (most of the time!..) I’ll be watching with interest to see where you go with this :)

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