Dear Fellow Writers:
I offer you this challenge: Write with me through the month of March.
You’ve probably heard of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), that November frenzy to write a novel of 50,000 words (from scratch) during the month of November. I like the idea, the whole quantity over quality nature of it and that staggering energy, but it reminds me of the time I tried to run Bay to Breakers without training first. Halfway through, my friends were already miles ahead of me. My knees hurt. I was covered with sweat. And I told myself–very melodramatically–that I would never attempt to run long distance again (which I haven’t–not really anyway).
My attempt at NaNoWriMo bore a similar result, but unlike the marathon, I had been “training” for it, in my own way. I was writing regularly and writing a lot. I was two weeks in and I simply petered. I don’t like failing. And more than that, I don’t like committing myself to something and then abandoning the cause. So what was it?
Looking back, I realized that me and NaNoWriMo, we just didn’t jive. There’s a list of reasons, but most importantly, because I believe writing is more than just getting the words on a page. That’s important. It’s crucial, especially if you haven’t for some time. But for me, writing was less about quantity and more about about keeping your butt in the seat, day after day, hour after hour, even if (and especially if), you stare blankly at the page. I learned that from Greg Martin (who advocates the use of aTreadmill Journal to help writers keep on track – you may want to give it a try!) and then I heard it reiterated over and over again by writer after writer. As many of us know, writing is rarely an act of starting from scratch, but an act of believing the mess we made on our original try is worth shaping into something worth while.
As for me, I’m three years into a novel and a month away from finishing it (and my MFA. Said novel is my disseratation.) This is the third draft we’re talking about here and, unlike the second draft, it has been royally kicking me in the behind. But I’m a hundred pages away. And I thought, what better way to keep myself on track than to start another kind of writing movement. Enter Writer’s March.
The challenge, if you choose to accept it, is simple:
1. Make a commitment to write every day this month. My goal: 3 Hours every day (That’s 21 hours a week. 90 hours total.) The trick here is that you set your own standards. Whether its 15 minutes a day or 5 hours a day, you know your schedule and you should keep it. But push yourself. If fifteen minutes comes too easy, try and make it an hour. Skip watching television. Give up that extra hour of sleep in the morning. Whatever it is, if you want the time, you have it. All excuses aside.
2. Decide upon a monthly goal. So maybe you treat it as a second NaNoWriMo. Or maybe you use the month as a NaNoReMo (National Novel Revising Month). Or maybe you are a poet and you want to write a poem a day. Or a short story writer who wants one solid, ready to send to the literary magazines story. Whatever the goal. Set it now, the beginning of the month, and then work every day to achieve it.
3. Find a writing companion (or make this blog your companion) and check in every day. I had a teacher who required writing partners. The task, to agree on a time to write every day and call the friend up, commit to the two hours (or three or five) with them, and then call them back when you are done. I had friends in high school who used to do this when they were running. 5am every day before high school, and the only way they could keep going was by knocking on each other’s window. Why not do the same? My commitment to you will be this blog. I’ll post something immediately after I’ve done my day’s work. (and likely something–a writing prompt, a writing thought, my day’s task, immediately before)
The purpose of this blog is to help you write, and to help you keep writing. Yet, I don’t want to go at it alone. If you’ve got a good writing prompt, ideas for how to avoid evasion strategies, good advice from yourself or other writers, please share them. I have no idea how this experiment will work, but if you have ideas, I’m open to them. Send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oh yeah, and if you want to join the march, subscribe to this blog,