We are in the age of writing challenges: NaNoWriMo, PiBoIdMo, or WNFIN . Whatever you write, someone has probably come up with a challenge for it. They all seem to have these cute acronyms to go with them too!
I'm currently doing a writing challenge. Well, it was actually an introspective mom challenge from MOPS (see, I have an acronym, too, which stands for Mothers of Preschoolers) that I turned into a blog challenge because (and here's the key) I need a blog challenge. I want to write on my blog more. I want to write a non-fiction book based on some of the things that I'm blogging about. (Fiction still seems to elude me currently with my schedule and stress level.) And this brings me to my first point about writing challenges:
Only do a writing challenge if it fits in your writing goals/career.
Would Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo) be fun for me? Of course! I love picture books. I have written one and published it, and I have written countless others. I have a six-year-old, and I used to be an elementary school teacher, but I don't want to be a picture book writer. I thought I did, but I realize now that's not true. Talk about a hard genre to break into and/or be successful in and/or be good at. WOW! It's really like poetry (which also eludes me).
My point is if everyone is doing a certain challenge (NaNoWriMo), but you don't want to write a novel, don't do the challenge. It is hard and a waste of your time. Find a challenge or make your own with your writing group that fits with your career/writing goals.
Don't stress out if you get behind.
I will admit to you right here that I am behind on the MOPS challenge. I should be blogging one of their questions every day, but I can't seem to make it work; so I have been doing chunks of them at one time. It still fits my goal of posting more on my blog, and the questions make me think about things I want to write about. BUT I am not going to beat myself up about doing the challenge this way.
I've heard a lot of writers talk about how they lost NaNoWriMo. This is because they didn't make it to 50,000 words in 30 days. Did you make it to 30,000? 10,000? Guess what? The challenge worked somewhat because I guarantee you that you have 15,000 words more on a novel than you would have had if you had NOT done the challenge. A challenge is designed to be motivating and difficult, but not soul-crushing. If you are really hard on yourself because you didn't meet the challenge, then this is not the kind of thing to put in your writing routine.
Say what? Writing is supposed to be fun? (wink, wink) Yes, have fun while doing the challenge. I really think our lives are so consumed with goals and the need to make money and book sale numbers and stats and blah, blah, blah–that sometimes we forget writing is supposed to be fun. (smiles) Even if you are writing something serious, you can have fun by sharing your challenge success on social media or with your family at dinner and talking about the joy that writing is bringing to you. So, I'm sticking with this point and maybe even suggesting it's the most important one!
My MOPS blog challenge is going on at margoldill.com . I'm answering questions about being a mom, but also about my darkest days, loving my body, relationships, and more. So I would love you to check out a post if you have time.
And if you have taken part in a writing challenge, let us know about it below in the comments. OR if you plan to.
Margo L. Dill is a writing coach, published children's author, blogger, editor, and instructor. She works full-time as an editorial assistant for a farm media company and as a mom, and part-time as a writing instructor, freelance editor, blogger, girlfriend, best friend, and writer. Find out more at margoldill.com. To sign up for her WOW! novel course, go here.
photo above courtesy of MOPS–at the end of the 28 days, we should be ready to do ONE BIG THING.
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