We Interrupt This Regularly Scheduled Blog…

June 24, 2008 at 9:49 am (Writing)

Hello. Since I am going to be out for the next few days with a dental procedure (trust me, you don’t want to know), I thought I’d give you fabulously lucky people a sneak peek at a guest blog I did for the Kiwi Writers. (These are the tremendously talented people who sponsor SocNoc.) It was scheduled to go up today, but I was told it’s actually not going to be posted until June 30th. They said it was a good post to end the month with.

I’ll take that as a compliment.

 

Writing Challenges—Who, Me?

 

As a participant from the Northern Hemisphere, I have to admit to not only never accepting the National Novel Writing Month challenge (NaNoWriMo for short, or NaNo for a shorter short), but also never wanting to. November is a time of holidays and decorating and eating and taking walks with your sweetie in the brisk weather. Why dedicate yourself to 1667 words a day during such a fabulous month? So I gave up the idea of a writing challenge, but then two things happened.

 

Number one, a few members from my writing group (Will Write for Wine) were getting ready to SocNoc and they offered the invitation for us to come and play, too. With such a friendly and gracious invitation, how could I say no?

 

Number two, and possibly the more important event, was a small realization I had on my way to June 1st. When thinking about my goals for SocNoc, I realized that I didn’t have to write 50,000 words this month. I know some would say this totally goes against SocNoc (or NaNo or any other similar challenges), but I say it doesn’t.

 

Once I realized I was released of the daunting task of writing almost 7 pages a day for 30 days, my head was free to explore what I did want out of SocNoc, what would help me most as a writer. I found I wanted the accountability of a solid writing pace, along with the support of fellow writers, of knowing that others were going through the same march I was. Did I want to finish the book I was already 40,000 words into? Absolutely. Did it have to be in June? Not if it didn’t work for me.

 

So now with less than one week to go, I can see that I’m not going to reach the word count goal I set for myself, but I’ve achieved something better. I tried. I pulled on my boots and I got on the horse. By participating in SocNoc I’ve learned a lot about myself as a writer, things I thought I knew, but didn’t. I’ve also gained a support system that’s going to last me long past June 30th and those people are going to help me more than crunching out 50,000 words ever would have.

 

So for those of you who have felt apprehensive or depressed or icky about participating in a writer’s challenge because the goal seemed too daunting, I say set a new goal. I stand here as living proof that the Challenge Police don’t come to your door and make you finish those last 31,667 words you promised you’d write. The next time SocNoc or NaNo comes around, take a deep breath and ask yourself what you want out of it. Then do it.

 

Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.

 

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8 Comments

  1. Kyle said,

    Great words of wisdom, Pam! I’ve never wanted to do one of those challenges, either, because I was afraid of the intensity of it all… but I never thought about it like that. Use it for the support, for knowing that there are people out there struggling with it JUST LIKE YOU. And having a great support system is the only way to write. It doesn’t HAVE to be such a solitary profession. I think I’ll have my circle still read drafts even after I’m published, and I hope they continue to do the same with me.

    Still don’t know about the 50,000 words in a month, though. That’s some Stephen King sh-t RIGHT THERE. LOL.

  2. Caryn Caldwell said,

    So true, Pam! And I can totally see why they wanted to post it on Monday. It’s a great wrap-up.

    Hope the dental work goes well and that you recover quickly.

  3. Robin said,

    Hi Pam! This is a going to be a terrific post to end SoCNoc with! Congrats on your achievements this month (*pom pom swish*) and thanks so much for being part of my support system! You’re awesome.

    I only wish I’d known there were no Challenge Police sooner. 🙂

  4. Pam said,

    Kyle–Amen to the support system, whatever form it comes in. And I think Nora writes 50,000 words in her sleep! She and Steve probably call each other and laugh at these writing challenges! (snort!)

    Caryn–thanks for the well wishes. It was fun doing this blog because it was a little challenge to step out of this blog, and now I’m international, baby!! 😀

    Robin–heck, you’re going to hit the 50,000 mark–double pom pom swish with a back handspring to you!!! (And there are Challenge Policy–I just bribe them! 😉 )

  5. Ilana said,

    The support system is awesome during these writing challenges!
    Congrats on the international publication!

    I’ve been backin 1st chapter hell trying to make those first 5 pages reallly matter.
    And trying to get my CT driver’s license – a nearly impossible task it seems.

  6. Kim said,

    Hi Pam!

    I will also fall far short of the 50,000 word goal, mostly due to poor planning on my part … I knew my niece was pregnant and due the first part of July almost since the moment she conceived, but did I start on the traditional baby afghan I have made for every single baby that’s been born into my family for the last 20 years. Nah! I decided to wait until this week. And guess what? It’s impossible to crochet and write at the same time. Go figure.

    But I’m thrilled with the 30,000 words have written this month, nearly finishing the first draft of my WIP and making huge breakthroughs in the story due to letting myself “write freely” as you so eloquently put it.

    So yes, swish those poms-poms, for me, for you and for all us Wiffers! We did awesome (drink)!

  7. Marilyn Brant said,

    Hope the dental procedure is now a distant memory…

    As for writing challenges, I’ve tried several and never reached the page/word goal I’d set for myself, but I still always found it beneficial. Sometimes just the habit of sitting down at my computer every day with the expectation of writing SOMETHING helped me, if only to circumvent my natural tendency to make up excuses for why I couldn’t work on a tough scene. So, congrats on the thousands of new words you HAVE written!

  8. Pam said,

    Ilana–yes, the first scene battle. Ah, I know it well. Good luck to you on it–I know you’re going to do great. (And get your driver’s license, too!)

    Kim–30,000 words?!? You’ve got pom poms swishing for you and then some. Way to go!!! And aren’t those breakthroughs wonderful? Congrats!

    Marilyn–the dental is still ongoing, but I’m going to get a funny blog and a potential book out of it, so silver lining, right? And thanks for the congrats–I’m just so proud of myself for trying this challenge. I don’t know if I’ll ever do another one, but at least now I know what they’re about!

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