Word Challenges: Motivation to Write

Monday, May 18, 2015
photo by wwarby on Flickr.com
It sounds crazy that writers need challenges to write. When I tell my non-writing friends that I am stuck on a work-in-progress or most of my writing time is dedicated to freelance, I can tell they don't get it. But you, if you are reading this blog, you are probably a writer. And hopefully, you get what I mean when I say: writers need motivation. We need to spice it up--or it is super easy to get in a rut and not actually produce new creative material for publication.

This is the exact problem almost my entire critique group was having in the spring. We all seem to have things going on in our lives that are getting in the way of producing any words at all. We love each other, so we still met--sometimes one person out of six would have something for us to critique. Or we would brainstorm if one of us felt stuck. But let's just say, none of us were producing anything close to the 20 pages we could have turned in for the others to read and critique.

So at our last meeting, someone suggested doing a daily word challenge. Every day for 90 days, we should commit to writing 250 words. When we go on retreat in the summer, we will pick a winner of the challenge--and this winner will get a monetary prize--which is the person who wrote the most and the most consistently over the 90 days. And it is working! Our word totals are probably triple what they were all spring in just one week. I'm struggling a little still, but I know why; and soon, I will be able to get on track and add my daily totals to the spreadsheet too.

This isn't the only word challenge you can do. You can do "word sprints", also known as "word wars." What this entails is either physically being in a room with other writers or online at the same time. You set a timer for an agreed upon time (usually less than 30 minutes), and you write as many words on your manuscript as possible as quickly as you can. (It's sort of the same philosophy as NaNoWriMo--just make progress, you can revise later.) When the time is up, everyone shares their word counts, and the person with the most gets to say: "I won the word war."  There could be a prize, like chocolate, if you so desire.

You actually don't need other writers to do a word sprint. You can just compete against yourself and try to beat your personal best, too.

Do you have any word challenges you do to keep yourself motivated and progressing on your work-in-progress? If so, please share them. We would love to hear about these ideas here!

Margo L. Dill is a children's writer and published author as well as an instructor for the WOW! classroom. Check out her books on her website.


Renee Roberson said...

Accountability is a beautiful thing, Margo. Glad to hear your group has gotten out of its rut. Now I need to find a revision challenge, myself!

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