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Thursday, November 13, 2008

100 Words for 100 Days

On Tuesday Trish had some great suggestions for mini-challenges, such as setting a timer for a fifteen-minute writing session or engaging a friend in a writing duel.

The only rule is to do what works, so I’m going to tell you about a recent challenge that worked for me.

It’s called the 100 Words for 100 Days Challenge and it was introduced to my RWA Chapter, Central Florida Romance Writers, last February by our fantastic program chairman. The idea of the challenge was to write at least 100 words each day for a period of 100 days. That’s it.

The purpose of the challenge is two-fold. First is to move your manuscript forward by adding a minimum of 10,000 words during the period of the challenge. The second is to aid the writer in building the habit of writing every day.

The jury is still out on the need for a writer to write every day. I think it’s important to do something toward the completion of your manuscript each day, whether it is actual writing, plot doctoring, character building or simply visualizing how wonderful it will be to type the end. It’s the not thinking about it at all that’s deadly. BUT, if you’re writing every day you can’t help thinking about your story and that is what moves your project forward. If you’re writing at least 100 words a day your story can’t help but move forward.

To say I loved the 100 Words challenge is putting it mildly. There was a day I wrote only 102 words and there was a day I wrote over 3,000 words, but I wrote every day. Not only did I write 100 days; at the end of the challenge I continued to write, stopping only when I was felled by an attack of seasonal allergies on day 185. I finished the rough draft of my WIP by adding 30,220 words, then went on to another story I had plotted several months before and wrote 21,144 more.

So, what’s not to like?

Because I used to be a Girl Scout and I think I should throw a disclaimer in here. 100 Words is a deceptively simple challenge. Write 100 words. Easy-peasy. Anyone can write 100 words.

If you know where your story is going you can write 100 words in five minutes—you can knock them out in less time than it takes your computer to boot up and then power down again, and therein lies the deceptive part. If you don’t know where your story is going, some time, some where in those 100 days, you’re going to get bogged down in deep, dare I say it, doo-doo.

That’s where planning comes in. Again, if you know where your story is going you can’t help moving forward. If you’re like me, most of your stories spring full-blown into your head anyway, so the actual writing is like filling in the blank spots. If you run into a block, jump over it and write what comes next. Just keep writing. It’s a rush you’ll want to experience over and over again, or at least every day for 100 days.

So, what do you think? 100 Words for 100 Days. Where could your story be at the end of it?


At 7:44 AM, Blogger Dianna Love said...

That's a very encouraging story about what you did in 185 days, Karen.

I heard about this a few years back, but had never really considered doing it since I tend to cut out time each week to write in large chunks.

But as I'm reading your post I'm thinking the idea of doing 100 words on the days I can't spend any real time at the computer or can't get to my office would be a boost to my production and keep the story always in my mind.

I'm going to try that, because we're only talking 10 sentences that I can do on a notepad if I'm away from the office. There's no reason I can't write 100 words on "something" in my story even if it's a scene I haven't gotten to yet.

At 7:59 AM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

I love this, Karen! I have recently switched from keeping track of daily pages to daily words and I love it! You're right, 100 words is easy-peasy, especially if you turn off that internal critiquer.


At 11:00 AM, Blogger Terry McLaughlin said...

Love this idea, Karen :-). You're right--100 words is easy. Half a page is a snap!

I also love that you pointed out that it's not so snappy when you don't know where you're headed.

My personal goal for writing days is five pages (approximately 1,000 words--I'm slow). Sure, I can write five pages in a couple of hours--no problem!--unless I have no idea what to write. It's not the pages, it's the ideas that are the toughest part of my process.

Those 100 words might be tough, at times. But I'll bet that half a page helps gets the writing juices--and the ideas--flowing. I'm going to give this a try :-).

At 12:34 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

I just heard of this, too, and I think it is a great idea. I have a friend who tried it and it really got her back into the habit of writing again.

At 12:40 PM, Blogger Delle Jacobs said...

This is such a terrific idea, especially for those who have much overwhelming schedules that that can't find time to write the big blocks they feel they ought to write.

I think it's also a good idea for those who are feeling less confident in themselves and their writing, and consequently can't get their writing going again. If they can just do 100 words every day, they can see their story take shape again.

I think it would work well for a page a day for some people. But a main focus for those who aren't getting anything done is to keep it small and simple. Then, how can you NOT do it?

At 12:45 PM, Blogger Karen said...

The 100 Words challenge was just what I needed to get my creative juices flowing again after an extremely difficult few months. I'm so proud of the work I did during those 184 days, and since. The promise I made to myself to sit down and write every day was enough to produce way over 100 words. My confidence and love of writing came back too.

I encourage everyone to try it!

At 3:55 PM, Anonymous Christine Glover said...

I'm going to use the hundred words a day to keep me going through the holidays. I tend to take huge chunks of time for the family and then feel like I have to rediscover my story after I return to the MS. This way I can keep my fingers busy/mind working/and stay on story track even with company and obligations. I think 1 hour a day on the "off" days is a good idea for me as well.

I have incorporated a lot of these suggestions into my writing schedule/days and my productivity is improving.


At 4:27 PM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

You're absolutely right, Terry. It's the ideas that don't always come so easily, not the pages or the words. All that thinking involved takes time. And you have to clear your head and become immune to distractions.

At 10:09 PM, Blogger Louisa Cornell said...

This is a great idea, Karen. There are days that I KNOW I can't write the 5 to 10 pages I keep setting for myself. If I could give myself a break from time to time and be satisfied with 100 words a day I wouldn't suffer these "I'm never going to be published!" blues!

At 9:03 AM, Blogger Mo H said...

That's a great suggestion to do the 100 words during the holidays! I'm going to do it, too.


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