Are You Up to the Challenge?

People who know me might be inclined to suggest that my eyes are far bigger than my stomach; I have a tendency to bite off a whole lot more than I can chew sometimes. Lately, though, the prospect of opening myself up to new challenges to force my mind into a more writerly position has been incredibly appealing. I want to write; I want to be a writer, so what the heck am I doing with all my spare time? It’s been said that if you really want to get anywhere with your writing, you have to treat it like a professional job, and I’ve been slacking off far too much on that.

Part of the reason is because I have a terrible time focusing on things. I managed to get stuff done in college because I had deadlines and grades and so on and so forth. These days, if I don’t finish something, the consequences are no more dire than me feeling a little bad about myself and life going on as usual. And that’s why I’ve really taken to the idea of taking writing challenges head-on and doing my darnedest to get them done.

It’s getting a little ridiculous, though. Still, I feel no desire to edit myself to draw back on any of them. Let’s have a look, shall we?

750 Words: I can’t remember who exactly led me to 750words.com, but it’s a great challenge and a lot of fun, even if I did wind up missing a day and ruining my beautiful streak! The concept of 750 words is simple: write 750 words a day. Write them into the private interface on the website and the site analyzes your writing and your statistics for dorks like me who are intrigued by such things. You gain points based on when you write, when you don’t, whether you write the full 750 words or just some words, too. Each month, a challenge opens up for people to write their 750 words every day of the month. I was too late to sign up for September, but I’m on the list for October, and we’ll see how that goes.

A Round of Words in 80 Days: A Round of Words in 80 Days (or RoW80) is a fantastic challenge and quite possibly to blame for my new obsession with writing challenges. I’ve participated in one and a half rounds so far, and it’s absolutely brilliant for encouraging you to get a lot of great work done. The concept is a good structure: you have a round of 80 days to meet whichever goal or goals you set for yourself. You check in with your progress every Sunday and Wednesday, which opens the challenge up to other participants, who are fantastic for encouragement and support. If you find yourself struggling with your goal, the emphasis of the challenge is to adjust it accordingly, which feels great when you’re like me and you’re setting the bar constantly higher than you can reach. The next round of Row80 begins October 3rd and you better believe I’ll be there! I plan to finish my current novel, Serpent in a Cage…but we’ll see how that gets adjusted!

Sue Healy’s 6-Month Challenge: The other day, the wonderful Sue Healy posted about another fun challenge on her blog: write a novel of 80,0000 words in 6 months (approximately 500 words a day). She suggests (and I’m taking her up on it) to dedicate about 45 minutes each day specifically for this task, without distractions or anything else pulling away from the writing. The idea is that if you take six months to pump out the words, you have six months to polish and clean and edit, and will have a novel ready within a year. Sue’s starting her 6-Month Challenge on October 1st, and I’ll be there with her. How about you?

National Novel Writing Month: And, of course, there’s the quintesential writer’s challenge coming up in November, National Novel Writing Month, better know as NaNoWriMo. I’ve participated for the past three years; I’ve never really succeeded, but I always give it the old college try. It’s nice that I don’t have until November 1st for this challenge, but I do spend a lot of time thinking about what the heck I’m going to write. 50,000 words in one month, approximately 1667 words a day. Classic.

0 to 70 in 60 Days: Now this is the challenge that I think I might be crazy for taking on. Gerhi Feuren blogged about a post by Dean Wesley Smith, who was lagging behind in his 100 short stories for the year, and figured out that he had between now and January 1st to pump out 70 stories to meet his goal. It’s a pretty tall order but, as Gheri points out, not entirely impossible. So Gehri decided to do it, too, and me, being crazy, decided that even though I’ll be having three different novels and other miscellaneous writing going on, will give it a stab as well. I’ve been neglecting my short stories, so even if I manage to only do a fraction of the 70, it’s still more than what I have now. So why not? The original goal includes getting those stories posted, with cover art, and then available for ereader versions; I don’t really have much skill with cover art and I haven’t gotten to epublishing yet, so I’m just considering getting them written and maybe posting them to be read, so I’m altering the challenge a little, but there you have it. 70 short stories in about three months. Bring it on!

Whenever I look at all that, I wonder if I’m crazy, but I also know, as I make myself a daily writing checklist, that these challenges are going to be spectacular for me and getting myself really dedicated to my writing. Will I manage to pull them all off? Probably not. Will I be better off for having tried? Indefinitely. So I’m going to go ahead, take a stab at all of them, and see which ones stick to my fork.

What do you think? Are you familiar with some of these challenges? Do you plan on participating in any of them? Do you have any other really fun challenges that you participate in to share, since, you know, I think I could really use another half dozen, don’t you?

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7 thoughts on “Are You Up to the Challenge?

  1. Wow, L.S., you sure are challenging yourself! I can’t imagine trying to do so many things. I’m already feeling overwhelmed because I’m participating in three blog events. I just couldn’t do all those writing challenges. One challenge at a time for me…and it will be ROW80. 🙂 But I admire your drive, that’s for sure! One word of caution. Don’t let yourself get burned out. If you at any time feel like you’ve overwhelmed yourself, give something up. There’s no shame in that. Don’t ever let your mental or physical health suffer by trying to do too much.

    So good luck! I’m looking forward to following your progress.

    1. Oh, absolutely! This is mostly an experiment to see how much I can drive myself, push myself, and how much I can take. One thing RoW80 has helped me with is discovering my limits and boundaries and what I can and can’t accomplish. I’m hoping to explore that a bit more with all these other challenges, and I’m definitely going to make sure I don’t burn myself out. If something doesn’t work, well, I tried, but I’m chucking it for the time being. : )

  2. Yip, the whole point of all these challenges is to take the effort much more seriously and the writing way less. Dean made an interesting point about it in his comments on his challenge update post.

    My take on these challenges: I gave up on 750 words because I don’t get online every day and I actually write more if I do not go online. But it is a brilliant concept and quite fun. I suggest it is a great option for people who just want to get their creative juices going and not necessarily because they are writers.

    A Round of Words in 80 Days is brilliant. I took part in half a round so far and will be taking part in the next round. My first goal will be to participate for the whole round from beginning to end. The best part of this challenge is the small encouraging community.

    This is the first I heard of Sue Healy’s challenge but I’m checking it out. I’m tempted. But maybe not.

    I’ve done Nanowrimo twice. Lost once, won once. My winning entry was such a load of bull I could not manage to do anything with it. My sense is that there is a lot for the hobby writer in it and it is fun but for it to make sense you need to network more than write. I’m probably not taking it on this year again.

    0 to 70 in 69 days is what I called it, It is a cut down of Dean Wesley Smiths 100 stories in a year. Which is a personal challenge to himself. My reckoning, and this is the treating it like a job principle, is that it works out to a short story every working day and you have 70 stories by the end of the year, writing one story in overtime. You need to have the time to write that many words (2500 plus every day) or you need to write fast otherwise you won’t be able to do it. It is a nutcase challenge. Nanowrimo should sound like a walk in the park so rather do that if you want a challenge you can manage.

    Last point (long comment, should have made it a post on my blog), good luck L.S. and great for joining me. Do you think we can inspire a couple more nutcases?

    1. Oh, I totally agree the 70 stories sounds completely crazy, and I think that’s exactly why I want to give it a try. And I’m hoping maybe, if anything, a few more nutcases like us will be inspired. That’s why I wanted to share all these great challenges; I know I’m going to get a lot out of them, even if I don’t exactly complete them all, so I wanted to share the opportunity.

      My short stories tend to be…shorter than 2500 so I think I’m taking a little liberty there, too. I just hope it will be a good push to get me producing some shorter fiction along with all my longer stuff, as well.

      Thanks for the luck, Gerhi, and for the great inspiration! It’ll be interesting to see how this transpires.

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