The bottom line with all writing advice is you have to get started. Write first thing in the morning, while coffee brews. Block out time to write on your calendar. Set word-count goals or write in 3o minute sprints. The bottom line on all of these is: get started.
While lots are taking time off to vacation this month, thousands of writers from all ranges in experience are committed to write every day in July or even the whole summer, to get this thing (whatever their writing project may be) done.
Whether you are a joiner, jumping in to share your daily accomplishments in a public forum, or are going it alone in classic writerly isolation, here are 12 online resources get you motivated to write every day.
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1. Online Writing Forums & Challenges – motivation, camper-style
The most well-known forum at the moment is Camp NaNoWriMo, which began July 1. The July “camp” is an off-shoot of the Office of Letters and Light’s original project to “write a novel in 30 days” during National Novel Writing Month (November). NaNoWriMo gets writers going with site software for tracking daily word counts, counting down to reach a total wordcount goal. Traditionalists may balk at the thought, but the site attracts a full range of experienced and newbie writers who find the site’s ability to turn daily writing into a trackable accomplishment with peers cheering you on just plain fun. (Yes, NaNo has had lots of “real” books published.) NaNoWriMo is especially good motivator for a new project, but “rebels” (those who’ve already completed a novel draft, or are researching or…) abound, with rebel forums and guidelines for setting project-specific goals.
- Teacher or Librarian? Teachers Write is a vibrant “writing camp” hosted by a slew of adult and young-adult authors, currently running (through summer) with daily prompts, Q & A with authors, community and feedback.
- Is your writing goal to “build platform” (audience) for your writing? Robert Lee Brewer’s Platform Building Challenge from April 2012 is the most comprehensive resource I’ve seen for expanding competence in all social media formats. Click the link to go to day 1 – and check out Wordsmith Studio, an ongoing writers’ forum that arose from the challenge.
- Blogger? If your goal is to post every day, join Liv, Laugh, Love’s July Bloggers’ Challenge which offers daily prompts and a Facebook forum to gain audience.
- Poet? Try Our Lost Jungle’s February 2013 Chapbook Challenge for a month of inspiration to write daily poems and organize a chapbook.
- Submitting for publication? Try Our Lost Jungle’s May 2013 Submit-O-Rama with daily inspiration, goals and resources.
Am I participating in any of these forums? I used the 2012 Platform Challenge last year, I’m a Founding Member of Wordsmith Studios, I’ve participated in Teachers Write, and I’m a rebel at Camp Nano (find me here). For testimonial on how online interactions impacted the day’s writing, check out Tuesday Writes: Camping with Friends at NaNoWriMo.
2. Use Good Prompts
Cynical about prompts? Not all prompts provoke insightful writing or help you advance the conflict of your story.
Of all the prompts I’ve ever encountered, I think literary agent & author Donald Maass rules. He occasionally tweets them from as a numbered list, as shown below. Follow him (@DonMaass) or his hashtag #21stCenturyTuesday for more. Below these tweets are links for more from Maass, as well as a recommended resource from Ann Hood.
8 What happened to your MC in childhood that happened to no one else? Make it big, odd and mightily shaping. #21stCenturyTuesday
— Donald Maass (@DonMaass) June 25, 2013
9 Who can betray your MC? What’s the worst way in which that can happen? Make it one degree worse still. #21stCenturyTuesday
— Donald Maass (@DonMaass) July 2, 2013
101 What’s a moment when everything could change? Pause. Explore. What does it feel like to be weightless? Add it. #Maass
— Donald Maass (@DonMaass) September 18, 2012
100 About what is your MC utterly right? Pull the rug. Prove her utterly wrong. Force her to rebuild. #Maass
— Donald Maass (@DonMaass) September 17, 2012
More Maass prompts:
- My post with 23 more prompts: Writing Workshop: Novel Writing Prompts from Donald Maass
- Check out Maass’s books: I’ve been reading Writing the Breakout Novel, but actually prefer his 2012 book: Writing 21st Century Fiction as the end-of-chapter prompts are more immediately useful than Breakout’s discussions.
- Maass also publishes an advice column at Writer Unboxed — here’s “The Bridge and the Tunnel” from 7/3
- Wordsmith Studio is discussing Maass’s book on Twitter, Mondays #wschat , through September.
3. Time & Word Count Motivators
Lots of writers motivate themselves with daily milestones. Ann Hood has built a career by writing 2 hours every day. Others aim for a word count goal. Writers with a deadline set this by dividing the number of needed words by the available writing days. Others may aim for 1,000 or 2,000 words — adjusted to whatever their normal, productive word count would be.
- Written? Kitten! Just for fun, to feel a sense of accomplishment for, say, every 100 words you write, you have to click and check this out. Every time you type 100 words, you’re rewarded with a kitten. (I’d forgotten using it, once, until I was transferring text from an add-on doc to my WIP and found it ended with the sentence, “If I keep typing, any word now a kitten will appear.” Meow.)
- 750 Words This site takes its inspiration from the practice of writing morning pages recommended in The Artist’s Way. The site keeps a bowling card style score for each day you write, with double points each time you hit 750 words (equivalent to 3 pages) per day. Unlike the Kitten, you have to provide your email address and log in.
- Timed Writing. Finish reading this first. Then log off the internet when writing, to blog the temptation to surf during writing time. Some writers use more forceful options: check out Mashable’s 6 Apps That Block Online Distractions So You Can Get Work Done.
- For more time-management strategies, go to the January Challenge, below.
4. Strategies for Getting Started – or Finished
In January, I hosted the January Challenge… Check out the strategies below for ways to manage competing priorities to accomplish your writing goals – from writing daily to applying to residencies or increasing submissions.
- Is your goal to get an existing project finished? Try January Challenge: 15 Strategies for Finishing Work
- Want strategies for starting a new project? Try January Challenge Week 2: Start Something
- Need to break through resistance to getting started? Try January Challenge Week 1: Finish Something .
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What About You?
What writing goal are you working on this month? Are there resources or forums that help you stay motivated, or are they a distraction for you? (Despite this post, I find resources both “helpful” and “a distraction,” so balance between networking and hermitsville.)
Feel free to share goals, prompts or links to your own articles on similar themes in the comments.
And, best wishes with whatever your goals this month.
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