*Minus the twelve grace days I took. Participants were allowed one grace day a week, and one grace week throughout the duration of the challenge. I saved my grace week for family holidays, but we never took any, so I just kept writing.
How I Survived
The Pros of Writing Daily
- Momentum. If you push yourself to add something to the story each day, you keep yourself from getting stuck. With that self-imposed challenge hanging over your head, you force yourself to push through, even if the result is messy. This makes it easier to pick up again the next day. The work is fresh in your mind, so moving your characters one step further doesn't take so much forethought.
- Productivity. I wrote 32,768 words this summer. It's not as much as I expected, but it's probably more than I would've written had I not participated in the challenge.
- You realize how valuable a few minutes are. It doesn't take long to write 100 words. I'm not the fastest writer, and I usually did it in five to ten minutes. Some days I wrote two or three times the minimum in that timeframe. You don't need three hours of free time to get writing done! Yes, those long stretches can be great, but writing is sustainable even when you're busy. A few minutes before you go to work or school, a bit of time snatched over a meal break, a quarter hour in the evening . . . It's doable.
- You form a habit. Eventually, it became more natural to sit down to write every day. I don't think I'll keep writing each and every day like this (which I'll explain in the con list), but now I know I can write little bits more often.
The Cons of Writing Daily
|"I've fallen and I can't get up." -Alfred from Larryboy and the Fib from Outer Space|
- Some of your work is going to be horrible. Like I mentioned earlier, some days I just wrote filler. I'm not real happy about that, but there it is. Yes, first drafts are messy, but at the same time, I feel like I just made more work for myself later on.
- Burn-out. To be honest, I'm relieved the challenge is over, because I'm feeling kind of dry. I am so ready to take a break now, which college is forcing me to do. Having to come up with another piece of the story on a daily basis sometimes stretched my creativity and even my desire to be writing.
- If you're not careful, you can get wrapped up in hitting your wordcount goal instead of enjoying the process. I'm a goals person to begin with, so it was easy to fall into the trap of focusing on numbers rather than immersing myself in the experience of creating something from nothing. Parts of this draft probably suffered for it. But at least it's written. You can't edit what's not there, right?
- You may train yourself to write in spurts, so when it comes time for a long haul, you're not strong enough. It's like sprinting every day instead of training for a marathon. Since the challenge ended, I haven't yet tried to write for a couple hours at a time, but it may be a stretch when I do. I'm not sure if my brain will, after writing a couple hundred words, say, "Okay, I've done my due diligence, goodbye." (Though this might be remedied by writing several spurts in one day? And decreasing the intervals between spurts day by day?)
My conclusion is . . .I'm glad I participated in the challenge! It feels good to have beaten it, and I'm over 30k words further in my story than I was at the start of summer. But am I going to keep writing every single day? Probably not. I've come to appreciate the value of breaks. A good balance for me personally would be writing four to five days a week, if I was a full-time author. As it is, present circumstances may allow only one or two days a week.
But I don't regret participating, and I may even join in again one day! It was a good motivator to keep plowing through a difficult, stubborn first draft.