Fallen Behind During NaNoWriMo? 5 Tips to Get Back on Track!

Behind During NaNo(1)How has the first week of NaNoWriMo been treating all of you? Are your novels coming to life as you zip through your words? I sure hope so!

But, realistically, a fair amount of us have already fallen behind.

*gasp*

It happens to the best of us. We all start out each November with a few thousand words and the undeniably optimism that this will be the year that we write AT LEAST those 1,667 words (the bare daily minimum to write 50,000 words in 30 days) each day during NaNoWriMo. But, while our muses and creativity are in a frenzied excitement, real life doesn’t slow down.

Maybe you had to work some unexpected extra hours, or maybe you caught a nasty cold. Or maybe you just couldn’t bring yourself to face another bout of writer’s block the other night. Whatever the reason, many of us have already fallen behind where we should be for the NaNo word count and are now playing the desperate game of catch up.

We’re all human and it happens to most WriMo’s. But you can’t beat yourself up about it if you still have your eye on that 50,000 target.

To aid you in your quest to claiming that NaNoWriMo victory this month, here are 5 tips to help you get back on track!

1. Do the Math

Go into your NaNoWriMo dashboard and see how many words you should have, then look at how many words you actually have. What’s the difference? If you’re behind by 1,000 words, just write 500 extra words (on top of the typical 1,667 per day) for two days. Or distribute the difference in smaller amounts over larger days. Whatever seems doable to you. In fact, NaNoWriMo’s site has a section that tells you how many words per day you need to average in order to finish on time. To find this, navigate to the stats page of your current novel and look on the sidebar for “Words Per Day To Finish On Time”. Use this is a guide for how much you need to write in order to catch up.

2. Take advantage of small pockets of time

If you find yourself at a loss for extra writing time, start using those little lulls throughout your day to get those words in. Use part of your lunch hour to write. Or if you find yourself in a waiting room, whip out your notebook or laptop and start writing. Even if you just get 50 words written, those little spurts of writing will add up and boost your word count.

3. Make time

If you can’t seem to find enough time to get your writing done, it may be necessary to go on the offensive and create the time you need. Get up 30 minutes earlier (or whatever is plausible for you) than usual, and use that time to write the extra words you need. Or maybe order in some food one night to save on cooking/clean up time. Start carving out time so you can get back to writing.

4. Set aside a whole day

Let’s say that you’re REALLY far behind. Or maybe you just can’t seem to work productively in short 30 minute spurts. If that’s the case, it may just be time to go all out. That’s right, pick a day in the next week or so and block out a huge chunk of time – if not the whole day. Don’t make any other plans for that time. This is your writing time and you’re going to use it to get back on track with your NaNo word count. It may be a bit drastic, but sometimes you need a whole day to do nothing but write in order to refocus on the goal at hand.

5. Keep writing

No matter what happens, don’t get discouraged! Keep writing and hitting your goals each day. But Don’t get down if you fall behind. You can only catch up and stay on track if you’re both optimistic and defensive of your writing time. So keep at it, hold that 50,000 word goal in your mind, and go for it! You can do this!

Hit an Inspiration Dry Spell? Pinterest Has the Solution

So, what will you write about next?

Usually, having ideas isn’t a problem for most writers. Our brains are brimming with them. They come to us in flashes of brilliance, in bits and pieces, in the form of plot bunnies, leading us down the rabbit hole.

But what happens when those ideas just seem to… evaporate? What do you do if you hit an inspiration dry spell?

First of all: don’t panic. You haven’t lost your spark. There’s an abundance of creativity within you—it’s just blocked right now. Whatever is holding you back, it’s not unfixable, and sometimes all it takes is a dose of the strange and unexpected to get your imagination back in business. The best way I’ve found to do that? Writing prompts. And the best place I’ve found to get them from? Pinterest.

(What is Pinterest? Find out in Pinterest for Writers in 6 Simple Steps.)

With Pinterest being such a visual platform, it’s a great opportunity to find writing prompts, whether they’re stunning images or written prompts. It could be a single pin or a whole board centred around a theme or style that gets the ideas flowing again—you just need to find them first.

So how can you find a wealth of prompts on Pinterest?

1. Search for them.

If you’re new to Pinterest or don’t follow many prompt-related boards, often the best place to start is with the search function. Simply type in a few keywords, like ‘writing prompt’, ‘settings’, ‘characters’, your genre of choice, etc., and search away. See any images you like? Create your own inspiration board and pin them to it!

2. Follow themed boards.

If searching for prompts doesn’t turn out the best results for you, the second option is to scout out inspiration-based boards that have been compiled by others. Found a pin that you really like? Chances are, you could like the other pins on the board it’s a part of.

To find the board the image is from and preview the other pins in it, simply click the image and look at the column on the right (highlighted in the image below). And there you have it.

How and where can you find the best writing prompts on Pinterest? Here are 4 ways to find the spark that can rekindle your imagination. | www.sprintshack.wordpress.com

My favourite inspiration-based boards:

3. Check out all the pins from a source.

What if you’re looking for pins from a particular source, rather than from a particular pinner? For instance, you really like the images created by a certain artist or writer, but the boards you’ve found only have a few of their many pieces of art or prompts on. What now? Pinterest has you covered.

Every pin has a source, the web address it came from, and if that’s the same source as the artist’s other images (e.g., their website), then you can find them easily. Click on the pin and look at the column to the right of it. There’s the name of the board at the top and the other pins on it, and underneath that there’s a ‘more from’ section. This is the bit we’re interested in.

If you like Sarah Selecky’s writing prompts, for example, you can find one of her pinned prompts, click ‘more from sarahselecky.com’ (highlighted in the image below), and explore all the images various users have pinned from her website.

How and where can you find the best writing prompts on Pinterest? Here are 4 ways to find the spark that can rekindle your imagination. | www.sprintshack.wordpress.com

My favourite sources for writing prompts? Right here:

4. Make use of Pinterest’s suggestions.

As you start pinning prompts to your own boards, you’ll see more of Pinterest’s ‘picked for you’ suggestions, which is a great way to find more incredible prompts and follow boards that collect them too. In fact, that’s where I find the majority of the prompts I get from Pinterest!

You can spot the ‘picked for you’ pins by looking at the section beneath each image, which contains the name of the pinner and the board it comes from. Check out the image below for an example.

How and where can you find the best writing prompts on Pinterest? Here are 4 ways to find the spark that can rekindle your imagination. | www.sprintshack.wordpress.com

So now that you have some prompts to get you over that inspiration dry spell, it’s time to get writing. Enjoy your idea hunting on Pinterest! (But don’t get too distracted—you actually have to write the thing, remember!)

~

Where do you find your writing prompts?

4 Essential Nighttime Habits for Morning Writers

UntitledIn case you haven’t heard, we recently ended our weekly #TNightSprints program in favor of an earlier sprinting schedule: #TuesAMSprints. This was largely due to my inability to partake much in the actual sprinting during #TNightSprints; I would host the tweets on our account, but more often than not, nighttime was quickly becoming a less-than-ideal—if not impossible—time for me to be writing. As a result, I’ve decided to try my hand at morning writing since it seems to work so well for others, and thus #TuesAMSprints was born.

But one thing I’m quickly learning is that, while mornings are great opportunity for us rare non-night owls to tackle our writing with fresh, re-energized creativity, it also presents the problem of stricter time limits. For most of us, nighttime writing sessions may stretch out longer if we wish, since “bedtime” can (though shouldn’t!) be flexible. But in the mornings, if you have a job or any other kind of strict commitments, writing for “just 5 more minutes!” or pushing to finish a scene or chapter can result in tardiness and subsequent repercussions from the outside world—not to mention stress, which is poison to creativity.

If you’re like me, though, you work well under pressure, and an hour in the morning is typically more productive than two directionless hours at the end of a tiring work day. So how can you ensure you’re as productive as possible during your morning writing sessions and still get out the door on time?

I’m still learning, myself, and this past week was a pretty rough trial period. But here are some habits that seem to be necessary for me to get anything done at all between waking and leaving for work:

Habit 1: Prepare Your Writing Space

Faye has some excellent advice on this in her Writember workshop, not to mention she’s an organizational fiend—so if you want more tips on optimizing your time through organization, I highly recommend buying her e-book or taking her course. But at its very basic core, preparation for morning writing starts with setting up your writing space; just like setting out your sneakers and workout clothes the night before makes getting up to exercise that much easier, so does setting up your writing materials in advance.

Make sure your workspace is clear and only contains the items you’ll need to write. If you need coffee or tea to get started, set out a mug and set the pot up so all you have to do is get it started when you shuffle out of bed. Sometimes the hardest part of working in the morning is simply showing up to your work station, and by having everything set up ahead of time, you’ll be giving yourself one less obstacle between you and your writing (and maybe even a few more winks of sleep)!

Do you write at a café or from another public space? Check out our Coffee House Checklist and ensure you have all your items ready to go in the A.M.!

Habit 2: Set A Goal

The biggest mistake I personally make when setting aside specific writing time is not knowing what I’ll be working on. Sure, there are countless projects at my fingertips—that unfinished WIP, the first draft that needs revising, a short story begging to be written. But with any given project comes a pile of notes, plans, and ideas, and not knowing what I’m working on only results in wasting precious writing time gathering my thoughts.

Whether you’re a pantser or a planner, this can happen to you. Regardless of if you’re embarking on a new project, revising an old one, or simply planning a free-writing session, having a goal—or even just a starting point—allows you to jump straight in from the moment you sit down.

Of course, great writing can come out of unplanned sessions, too. My first-ever published short story, “Petals to the Sea,” was born of an unexpected lull in my work day and some spur-of-the-moment writing. But when planning a writing session in the groggy hours of the morning, it’s typically best to have direction.

Habit 3: Prep Your Project

Once you have a neat writing space and an idea of what you’ll be working on, take Habit 1 a bit further and prep your project. This can be as simple as opening a new writing document for a free-writing session or flipping to a blank page in your notebook and setting out your pens—or, if you’re more in-depth with your planning, as involved as mapping out the details of your next scene in a spreadsheet. However you prep for writing sessions, this is the time to put those rituals to use.

If you don’t have any preparation rituals, try this one: every night, while preparing your writing space and your goal for the next morning, read over what you wrote in your last writing session (if you’re working on an ongoing project) or jot down a few potential ideas for your next session (if you’re working on something new). Heck, even just adding a sticky note to your computer monitor or notebook with a motivating quote is better than doing nothing; rituals help set the stage for your work, and by performing the same one each night, you’ll wake up in the right mindset to tackle your next writing session.

Habit 4: Get Enough Sleep

This one doesn’t even need explanation. Just do it. You know you—and your writing—will be better off if you do!


Do you have any unique nighttime habits that set the stage for morning writing sessions? Let us know—and hopefully we’ll see you every Tuesday morning for #TuesAMSprints!

Mashing Mediums: How Switching Gears Can Improve & Refresh Your Writing

In March, I wrote a postUntitled on my first-ever 10KWritathon and the valuable writing and productivity lessons I learned from it. While I didn’t achieve the 10,000 word goal I had originally set for myself, I did get quite a bit done, and there’s one thing I attributed my final push to: switching mediums when my current fiction project was becoming a chore.

During the 10kWritathon, I devoted a good chunk of my time to my fantasy WIP. Several hours in, the writing became stale—I was tired and no longer interested. The words were coming slowly. I needed some space to clear my head, so I switched to writing a blog post. And just like that, the words flew.

You don’t have to be shooting for a challenging word count or personal record to reap the benefits of variation and experimentation, and the benefits aren’t limited to a boost in word count; after all, as motivating as a hefty word count can be, you’ll never finish Project A if you keep diverting to Project B. But whether your goals are to finish a current project, edit X number of words on any of your multiple projects per day, or to just sit down and write, working within multiple mediums will likely give new life to your voice.

What do I mean by switching gears or working within multiple mediums? Simply spending some time writing outside of the genre or form of your current project, or better yet, your comfort zone–such as a fiction writer dabbling in poetry or screenwriting.

Real-life example: After the 10kWritathon, which took place on a Sunday, I returned to work. At my day job, I spend my days writing newsletter and blog content for a staffing and recruitment firm. The content is very straightforward, professional, and to the point: pretty different from the fantasy and young adult fiction I enjoy writing in my spare time. I had noticed some of my pieces getting a bit repetitive around that time, not in content but in voice—it seemed like all of my articles sounded the same regardless of their subject. But that Tuesday, I wrote an article that was much more prosey. It used imagery and metaphor, avoided the standard numbered-list style that my latest articles had all utilized, and told a story much like a short work of fiction would. When I handed it in, I was a bit nervous; I’d never written an article like that before, especially not to represent this company, with its very corporate appearance and professional style. I expected the pages to come back bleeding red, marked up with my boss’s many edits.

It came back pristine.

My boss loved the article and didn’t suggest a single stylistic edit, which is rare. Spending all of Sunday working on fiction and making that transition to blogging in the last few hundred words sparked a connection for me, one that blurred the lines between the writing styles of fiction and nonfiction and allowed me to utilize them tangentially. This can happen with your writing, too.

Think about each major form of writing and how different it is from whatever it is you do: fiction, poetry, screenwriting, nonfiction writing:

  • Fiction: focuses heavily on description and plot and, in most cases, insight into a character’s thoughts
  • Poetry: makes great use of imagery, metaphor, and other useful tools that can add life to other genres
  • Screenwriting: carries a story through dialog and minimal description/action
  • Nonfiction: focuses on the facts and a logical flow of information

Of course, there are many exceptions and these aren’t hard lines—they too get blurred, and there are many more factions they can be broken down to. But I think many would agree these are typically the main characteristics of each.

While these differences may be daunting when you aren’t used to writing in a certain way, playing within them can open your writing up to so much more within your usual form. Struggling with dialog? Write a short scene of a play or movie. Over-describing a scene and taking away license from the reader? Try writing poetry or flash fiction, both of which are typically evocative but clipped. Having a hard time getting to know a character in your cast? Try writing a scene from his or her point of view, long-form, to learn more. The list of possibilities goes on.

Have you found switching gears to be a useful tool for your writing? What else do you typically try when you’re having trouble with your current project? Let us know!

New Book Alert! Faye Kirwin’s “The Writember Workbook”

Exciting news, folks! Friday 1st May marked the launch of co-founder Faye Kirwin’s first e-book, The Writember Workbook. Clocking in at 274 pages, the workbook teaches authors how to use psychology to master the art of writing every day and is now available at Writerology.net.

Want to make writing a habit? The Writember Workshop will help you make that dream a reality. Over 32 lessons, you'll use psychology to master the art of daily writing—because your words matter.

If you’ve ever thought about writing on a regular basis, there’s never been a better time to make it a reality.

Over the course of the Writember Workshop, you’ll learn how to build the ultimate writing routine, find your personal motivation triggers, inspire yourself on demand and master self-discipline. The aim: to make writing a habit.

Interested? Then pick the programme that best suits you:

The Committed to Creativity Programme

The Guided Workbook

If you’re the go-it-alone type, then the newly released Writember Workbook will let you work through the 32 lessons and worksheets at a pace that suits your lifestyle. You’ll also be given access to the Writember Twitter and Facebook communities and receive a monthly email to keep you accountable on your daily writing journey.

The Serious About Storytelling Programme

The Ultimate Accountability E-Course

If you prefer accountability and personalised support, then the Writember e-course is more up your street. In this programme, you’ll have a lesson and worksheet delivered to your inbox every day for a month, receive one-to-one coaching, and get a free copy of the Writember Workbook.

Want to make writing a habit? The Writember Workshop will help you make that dream a reality. Over 32 lessons, you'll use psychology to master the art of daily writing—because your words matter.

Want to take part in the Writember Workshop? Head on over to Writerology and enrol on your perfect programme!

Still not sure? Hear about the workshop from a past student, Kristen Kieffer of She’s Novel, who now has a stunning writing streak of over 60 days:

“Struggle no more! I was a binge writer banging out 1,000s of words once every couple of weeks before I found the Writember Workshop, and it was plain to see that my writing wasn’t getting any better. I knew I had a problem, but I still struggled with adopting the daily writing mentality.

The Writember Workshop held me accountable for the length of the course and taught me how to sustain my writing habit once the month was over. I now write every single day and my work is visibly improving. Three cheers for Faye and her amazing course!”

~

Tell us what you think of the Writember Workbook in the comments below or get your own copy here!

How Writing “for Publication” (Nearly) Killed My Love for The Craft

Okay, oUntitledkay—let’s take a step back for a minute.

My love for writing is certainly nowhere near dead, but for a short while there, I was worrying it might be. I haven’t been writing much at all lately (or, technically, not just “lately.” My productivity has been dropping for quite some time now, as many of my blog posts this year have shown). When I do try to muster the strength to write, I often find excuses to avoid it or discourage myself with negative thoughts about my skills, my works in progress, or the likelihood that I’ll continue my writing streak. I’ve always been hard on myself, but I do remember a time when I enjoyed writing and persevered even when it wasn’t going so smoothly—so what’s different now?

I think I’ve made a mistake this past year or two that’s seriously hindered the enjoyment I’ve always found in writing, and maybe my skills themselves, to some extent: I’ve been focusing too heavily on “getting published” and not enough on writing good stories that make me happy.

Now, for someone whose ultimate goal is to see her books on shelves, it makes sense that I’d do some research on the publishing process and apply that knowledge to my work. In fact, for a while, the things I was learning through various industry blogs and podcasts greatly helped my writing, as I started seeing my plot and characters from the point of views of readers, editors, agents, and publishers—not just from my excited god-playing eyes. I identified weaknesses in my process and my stories, themselves, and even received some excellent feedback from an editor who rejected a short story I was submitting around this time last year. I thought I was on the right track, and for a while, I was. Until I wasn’t.

Now, don’t get me wrong—if you want your work published, especially traditionally so, you need to have some insider knowledge. But I did something that the authors from one of my favorite insider sources, the podcast Writing Excuses, often warn against: I let my obsession with seeing my name on a book spine eclipse the hard work it takes to get there. I focused too heavily on the end, and often overlooked the means. As a result, I continuously found myself in this vicious cycle:

  1. Open up Fleeting, my Fantasy work in progress, which I was convinced would be my first published novel.
  2. Realize that I haven’t worked on it in some time because I’ve taken too long (3 years and counting) to work through this first draft and I’m completely disengaged from the story, and as a result, I have no idea where to begin.
  3. Get overwhelmed. Close the project and consider working on some writing prompts, or a short story I’m excited about, instead.
  4. Decide against those options. They aren’t pieces I can publish, so why waste my time when I could be working on my WIP? They say young writers should “finish everything they start,” so I shouldn’t start a new project until I’m done with this one.
  5. Open up WIP one more time. Get overwhelmed again. Close it and give up on writing for the night entirely.

Let me just emphasize this: this pattern is toxic. You’d think that after all the podcasts I’ve listened to, all the blog posts I’ve read, all the advice I’ve doled out myself, I’d have realized way before this point that it’s okay (if not necessary) to put down my WIP if it’s discouraging me from writing altogether. It’s okay to work on something that probably won’t get published, because those pieces are often the ones that shape our writing the most. And it’s okay to just have fun with your first drafts and not worry so much about what an agent or publisher will think, because forced writing is stiff. The writing you enjoy working on is the writing readers enjoy reading, and it’s the only kind that breathes that proverbial life into its world and its characters.

Of course, this may not be the case for those who are already published and have deadlines to meet for future publications—but for authors like myself, who have still yet to come close to publishing a work, I feel it’s best to enjoy the writing first and shape it for publication later. That’s what revisions are for!

So, I’m going to take some of my own advice for once and cut myself some slack. Rather than force my way through a story I’m not currently enjoying writing, I’m going to pick up Faye’s new e-book Writember and get to work on making enjoyable writing a daily habit.

What do you write for fun? Is publication a factor when working on a first draft, or is it something that doesn’t come into play until you’re in revisions? Let me know!

Guest Post: Amy Good – “Story Bandit:” Stealing Your Writer’s Block With Random Prompts & Dares!

Guest Post TemplateNo two writers work the same way. Some painstakingly labor over each word; others simply open a vein and bleed words onto the page. Some construct a catchy beginning and write on the fly from there; others write their endings first and work their way back. Some go through long bouts of writer’s block; others never take a break from writing, even for a day.

But all the writers I’ve met share one thing: we all want writing to be fun. Whether we consider writing a hobby, a part-time job, or a full-time profession, we want to enjoy ourselves.

For me personally, I relish when writing works like puzzle-solving. I delight in working my way towards a particular ending, or in connecting disparate pieces to make a story come together. Like most other writers, I detest it when the words don’t flow. And when taking a shower or a walk just won’t cut it, I turn to other methods to trick the words into flowing.

Writing dares are a favorite (and fun) trick of mine, so much so that I actually co-created a Twitter account and Windows app devoted to them: Story Bandit. Although the app has limitations in the kinds of prompts it can give users, the Twitter account affords me a wide latitude to create a variety of challenges, which my co-creator tweets out at random so that I can amuse myself by trying them out as well. The dares may include a word limit, a list of random words to incorporate into a poem or story, a setting or conversation to integrate into a story, or an opening or ending line. And so far, the dares are really catching on!

Some writers who take on @StoryBandit’s dares find the challenge useful in combatting their writer’s block:

A few writers like that they’re pushed outside of their normal comfort zones:

Some are inspired by the dares to create poems or stories they otherwise wouldn’t have written:

And many of the writers simply have fun and enjoy the challenge:

I use writing dares for all of these reasons and more. Not only do they add inspiration, fun and challenge to my regular writing routine, but they can also be finished in a short writing sprint, usually in anywhere from ten to thirty minutes. So if you’re looking to add a new dimension to your own writing routine, why not give writing dares and @StoryBandit a try!

Amy Good

Amy Good is a U.S. writer in Dublin and the author of Rooted. She is the editor of RewritingMarySue.com, a website dedicated to highlighting compelling and unabridged female characters in fiction. She also manages @StoryBandit, a Twitter-based writing prompt generator. You can find out more about her at Amicgood.com and follow her on her personal Twitter account.

Stay Inspired: How to Maintain a Writing Mindset

Stay InspiredIt can be hard to stay motivated to write day in and day out. Aside from the demands life makes on our time, there are obstacles like writer’s block or self-doubt or – worst of all – obscurity. It’s impressive that any author ever has the mental strength to get anything done.

But many authors get a lot of writing done. A LOT do, in fact. Tons of writers produce large quantities of work every year (which, coincidentally, I think may be the secret to writing success…but that’s for another post).

So what’s the secret? How do you stay focused? How do you produce multiple pieces a year? Here’s my answer: find a way to maintain a writing mindset at all times. Albeit, it’s easier said than done. So here are some tips to help foster a lifestyle that will keep you writing.

Read with a critical eye. Sure, sometimes it’s nice to just lose yourself in a book. Book every now and then, delve into a book with the intent to examine it. See what you like and what you don’t like. Think about how you can apply some techniques to your own writing. Or what you want to avoid. Being conscious of what other authors have put out into the world means you’ll be conscious of what you write – and it’ll make you WANT to write.

Socialize… with other writers. Find a writing group in your area – or a writing buddy. Or take to Twitter, Facebook, or the dozens of websites out there that allow you to connect with fellow wordsmiths. Talking shop and seeing what others are doing will inspire you to keep the words coming.

Socialize some more… with your readers. If you have readers – whether it’s 5 or 5,000, take some time to interact. Social media, your own website, and email are great ways to stay in touch with your readers. You’ll find that the more you talk to people who love what you’re writing, the more you’ll want to write great stuff for them.

Talk about writing. A lot. To your writing friends, your readers, your family. Anyone who will listen. Talk about something you are writing – or something you want to write. Talk about why you write, or what you’ve learned from writing. Talk about it when you can. More often than not, you’ll start to hear some pretty good ideas come out of your mouth. And then you can move those to paper.

Study up. Read books about the craft of writing. Or marketing or publishing. Or listen to podcasts on the same subject. Let other people get you excited about the process. Let their ideas spark your own. Or re-purpose their brilliant ideas (DO NOT plagiarize or steal – just let yourself be inspired). Enthusiasm is contagious, so go out and catch it.

Take a walk down memory lane. Revisit some of your greatest hits – your favorite past pieces. Or pick up a project you never finished and start breathing more life into it. Remind yourself how far you’ve come with your writing. And then set your sites on where you want to go.

~

So go on. Get out there are find ways to keep yourself inspired. And, as always, keep writing!

~

Got any suggestions on how to stay in the writing mindset? Share your knowledge in the comments below!

Q&A: Lisa Witherspoon and the One Word Blog Challenge

It was only a few days until the New Year when I was scouring the web looking for writing challenges to keep me on track with my goal of writing 500 words a day. I know I am not the only writer who does this; we all look for things to keep us going in case we hit a dry spell, such as challenges to add to our tool belt and lists of prompts or ideas to keep us writing. I was looking for something different this year though, a challenge with a community, a challenge with creative lenience. Well, friends, I think I’ve found it: The One Word Blog Challenge!

This challenge, hosted by Lisa Witherspoon on her blog The Golden Spoons, began the first week of January and runs through to the week of February 20th. Every Friday, participants will receive 3 one-word prompts in their email, and the goal is to write a post using at least one of the prompts. On the Wednesday after each challenge, there will be a blog post “link up” in which other participants will be able to see your posts and share theirs as well. Writers are also encouraged to use #1Word on Twitter when linking their posts that way.

My favourite part about this challenge is that each prompt is up for interpretation, and you can make the posts fit your blog/writing style. So I contacted Lisa, because I was so excited to participate in this challenge, and she was kind enough to answer some questions about it:



Headshot2-#350Q: How do you think the One Word Challenge is going to help writers?

A: I know a lot of bloggers and writers struggle with writer’s block from time to time. Always trying to come up with fresh new ideas can be hard, especially in the blogging world, where there are so many people writing about a lot of the same things. My hope is that the One Word Challenge will help writers realize that inspiration can come from something as small as a single word.

After completing the challenge, participants will receive a list of 100 single word prompts they can use in the future as well.

Q: Why did you decide to organize this amazing challenge? How much planning has gone into it?

A: The idea came to me about six months ago. It is a combination of several other blog linkups I have seen and/or participated in. I emailed a trusted group of blogging friends to get their thoughts on the idea. Taking their feedback into consideration, I streamlined it just a bit. Then, I had to decide how I would publicize it and get people to join. In addition to coming up with the prompts, I have also set up an email subscription and a Facebook group, and spent time planning which words will be prompts during each of the eight weeks of the challenge.

Q: What should participants expect from the One Word Challenge?

A: Participants should expect to practice their writing and improve their skills. They should also expect to read some incredible writing from others who are participating. I hope that, as participants, we will all meet some new blogging friends and find some new blogs to follow—to build a little community of sorts. If it is a success, I might consider hosting the challenge again later in the year and/or making it a regular thing each new year.


If you’re looking to join the One Word Challenge, it’s not too late to sign up! The first prompts were received and linked up on Wednesday, but each week is a new opportunity. Lisa says that all are welcome, so sign up today to challenge yourself, meet other writers, and start 2015 off with some awesome prompted writing!


MazMazie-Bishopie Bishop is a fiery 22 year-old writer and journalism student from Canada. She is self-published and also has several poems and short fiction pieces published in various anthologies and magazines. She is a big dreamer who hopes to be writing with the big guys some day and cannot wait for her career to start! Currently, she is in the process of writing her second novel, and is in the outlining stages of a quarter-life memoir. You can read about her little crafty adventures, read her work, and gander at her photos on www.theselittlepieces.com.

A Holiday From Your Writing

A Holiday From Your WritingI hope you all had a wonderful holiday season! Personally, I still feel as though I’m in the midst of hibernation. It’s been a great winter and after a short break from the routine stress of everyday life, I’m feeling refreshed and ready to take on 2015.

I love this feeling! So how do we achieve that same refreshed, can-do attitude with your writing? Simple: take a holiday from your writing.

Do you have a piece of writing or a project that you feel has gone stale? Are you stuck mid-story? Or are you simply dreading the editing stage?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you need to take a vacation from your current WIP.

Put that pen down (or close out of the word processor).

Stick your work in progress in a drawer. Or store the file somewhere other than your desktop. Give yourself permission to forget about the project for a while.

Clear your head, but keep your writing sharp.

Disclaimer: Taking a holiday from your work does not mean that you stop writing altogether. It simply means that you stop working on your current project and give it (and yourself) time to breathe.

Continue writing, but for now just focus your efforts on something totally different than your shelved project. Keep the words flowing and challenge yourself to do something different (even if just for a short period of time).

DO retrieve your shelved project.

This is probably the most difficult, yet most important part of the vacation from your writing: the return. Make sure you do go back to your WIP. Let the time you spend away from it refresh you . DO NOT buy in to any self-doubt that may crop up. Don’t let yourself make excuses.

When you first shelve your project, I recommend setting a date that you will go back to it. And then STICK to that date. Hold yourself accountable. (Personally, I set the date 1 month from the day I shelve the project.)

By taking a short break from your project, hopefully you’ll be able to breathe some new life into it!
Happy writing and a joyous new year!

~

Have you ever taken a vacation from a project? Let us know in the comments below!