A Month of Writing

MoW-ENNot so long ago I’ve explained how NaNoWriMo, although great initiative, wasn’t really working for me and how I’d be more eager to participate in something to build up the writing habit instead of speeding into a book within a month. And there it came, the opportunity to challenge myself, commit to writing and make friends with a group of people who do the same: the 365k Club.

The idea, originating from Jane Steen, was brought to life by Katherine Grubb and Jessica White from 10 Minute Novelist group. They invited fellow writers, professional and not, to partake in the challenge of writing 365,ooo words in a year, which meant to produce on average 1000 words every day. I thought I’m not capable of meeting such a goal. I thought that life will surely interfere preventing me from even trying. And I thought that a hopeless plotter such as me won’t be able to plot quick enough to meet the daily word count.

And with all these thoughts… I signed up.

In the end, 365k Club is not about rushing to finish a novel as soon as possible, it’s not even about finishing a novel within a year. It’s about writing every day: as long as it’s creative and it produces new words, it counts (yes, this post will count, though its Polish translation won’t). It’s also about keeping it going for a year, with just occasional hiccups and I think it’s much harder to write daily for a year (even less than 1000 words) than it is to carve out a month of your life to write like crazy.

How it’s been for me so far? I started January cautiously, with my writing goal around 500 words a day with a reasonable approach of the beginning of the year being always a bit messy. But first of all I had to try to incorporate some writing time into my daily routine. It’s not easy to do with a full-time job that requires staring at a screen and text for a whole day, as I need time to relax and let my eyes rest when I come back home. Daily household chores and preparing dinner take care of the latter, but the first one does require me sitting down and doing something that doesn’t involve my brain too much.

25daysEN
A 365k Club badge earned for writing consecutively for 25 days.

 

In the end, when I wrote my 500 words a day, if didn’t feel right to not to try to push it a bit and reach the real goal. In the process I learned that I need to have at least 1.5-2 hours to get to 1000 words written and I started scheduling the time according to that. I picked a novel idea that I’ve been plotting for quite a while now in hope that I’ll save some time spent on picturing the scenes. It worked quite well: each day, when I was starting to write, I knew what I want to write and how I’ll describe it. But there were slower days too, when the scenes needed a lot of thinking. And there were moments when the words just didn’t want to come. If I had time, I took it slow, but on a weekday, when the bedtime and another working day were closing up on me, I switched to another scene or project and kept writing to meet the goal.

1000-Jan
A 365k Club badge earned for writing 1000 a day in January.

 

So, did it work? After a month in the 365k Club I think it does work. I’ve definitely been writing more and I didn’t miss a single day so far, always hitting the 1000 words mark. When the time allowed, I even wrote more than that, and in total I wrote 41891 words in January, which is probably a lot more than I wrote in any other month for the last 15 years or so. I also met some great people in my team, as all 365k Club participants have been assigned to one (for friendly competition between the teams and encouragement within them).

But there are downsides too. Due so much time consumed by writing there are not enough hours in a day and I noticed I read much less. I also haven’t been editing my texts at all in January, since editing doesn’t count. And I tend to focus on the things I’m excited to write, and not the ones that have a deadline creeping close.

And 365k Club had barely started. I might give myself a pat on the back for being so good in January, but there are still eleven more months to go. The real challenge is still out there: to make it to the end of 2015 with as little missed days as possible (because there will be days missed, of that I’m sure). To keep up with the routine even if I happen to drop out for a couple of days. To build up that writing routine regardless of life random encounters. To find time for other activities in the writing madness.

It’s going to be challenging, but I’m looking forward to it.

And if the moments of doubts come, I have to nice badges to look at to keep me going and to remind me of the rewards that wait for me at the end of the year: a start of a possibly life-long habit, a great amount of satisfaction and… even greater amount of words I’ll have to edit.


This post is a part of “A Month of Writing” series, feel free to browse through other related posts.

 

 

10 thoughts on “A Month of Writing”

  1. I’m so glad you mentioned me in this article, Joanna! Not because I like being mentioned (although I do, egotist that I am) but because without the mention I’d wouldn’t have seen what the 365K challenge is doing for you–and that’s a real joy for me.

    I came up with the challenge in 2013 and did it for the first time last year, and like you I found I wasn’t reading or editing enough. This year, though, writing at least 1,000 words a day has become such a normal part of my life that I’m finding ways to make it fit with editing and business tasks. It actually gets easier rather than harder to find things to write about. So keep going and get that daily habit so well ingrained that a day without writing feels wrong–and then see what you can do about the rest of the process.

    1. Hello Jane, thank you for stopping by! I mentioned you because you definitely deserve it – of course, I’m being an egoist to, since I enjoy 365K and think it’s great.
      I’m glad you can confirm my hopes: that I’ll find time to do other things once the routine sets in. I already noticed that after a month or regular writing I “produce” my words faster than I did in the beginning (and I don’t think the quality dropped).

    1. I had periods like that and I learned to not feel guilty about them. It doesn’t help going back to writing, and the brain sometimes has to reset.
      I don’t know if 365K is for everybody (it seems some people do not benefit as much from it – at least not so far), but I think it’s a good idea. The sign up was closed in December, but why don’t you poke around the 10 Minute Novelists group (if you’re on Facebook) – it can a great place to get motivated too (with weekly chats about everything writing-related: plots, characters, etc.).

  2. I like the idea of this but I have no idea if I could do it in reality. I already sacrifice sleep in order to do my morning pages & blogging cuts into reading/photography/family time as is.

    But I would really love to be able to build more writing time into my schedule.

    1. If you write in the morning, Jen, you’re already on the right track, especially when it’s your routine. This challenge is not about trying to have one novel/book done, but by building up a routine. Your pages and blog posts would count into the 1k. 🙂
      But if it’s too much because of life, even 100 words a day sounds good. Or 10 minutes.

  3. Hats off that you’ve committed for the year AND followed through!
    (this is the part where I insert some weak excuse about not having the time but really wanting to and nobody is convinced)
    But seriously though I know what you mean about reading time, I haven’t even so much as booted up the playstation in over 10 months now.
    Just don’t have the time.
    That is how much writing has changed my day to day life.
    My trouble has never been putting down words though it’s sifting through and forcing myself to edit them down to something usable. That said however I may come and join you later in the year when back in create mode
    – if I’m allowed of course? 😉

    1. Well, I still have to see myself following it through for a year, one month is only 1/12 of the real goal.
      Editing is my problem as well, but it did affect my writing: I used to write slowly just to make it as perfect as possible, so there’s very little editing to do. I still play video games to relax and get inspired (in one of the previous posts I mention how Skyrim has inspired the novel I’m writing now), but I never was a hardcore-gamer.
      And if later this year you’re looking for someone to keep the tabs on daily wordcount it, well, you know where to find me. 🙂

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