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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Book In A Week- The Power of Fun

The Power of FUN

Do you remember playing make believe as a child? Wasn't it fun? Wasn't it amazing? There were no rules. Anything you could imagine could happen. Can you remember without smiling? I can't.

We all grew up and supposedly grew out of such childish games. Only...only...the longer I've been a writer the more I've come to realize the power in having FUN. And that's the philosophy behind Book in a Week. It's about, for one week, recapturing that magic. It's about, for one week, letting go of all the rules and shoulds and musts and market info and just writing. Writing from the depths of our hearts—without constantly second guessing ourselves.

It's binding and gagging and shoving that inner critic into the closet and padlocking the door. For just one week.

It's saying to ourselves—and to those around us: I AM a writer and writing matters!

It's about discovering what we would let ourselves write if we could recapture the magic of childhood make believe. And the fascinating thing is that often we find ourselves writing not only faster but better than we ever have before. Just recently I've heard from two people who did BIAW with me and their work is now under contract. I can't tell you how happy that makes me feel!

The tag line Book in a Week is catchy. But really, the philosophy can be adapted to any block of time—however short—where you are going to let yourself go and truly write from the heart and not censor yourself. It could be a few hours, an afternoon, a weekend—or a week. All it requires is that you don't second guess or reread what you wrote—for that chosen block of time. (Very few of us can reread without itching to fix things—and that's a deadly trap because often our muse knows things about the story it hasn't told our rational minds and the very things we change or take out may turn out to be what would have been the best parts of our story had we risked keeping them.)

For the basics of how to set up a BIAW, I've got a couple of handouts up on my website: Essentially, you clear the decks, so to speak, get your planning done ahead of time, then gather a few people who will post to and support each other, then write for one week. Write every chance you get, as fast as you can, no second guessing or rereading or rewriting what you wrote during that week. In part, the idea is to discover where and when and what and how you write best.

If you doubt the power of writing this way, let me just mention that recently I've heard from two different people who took my online BIAW class over the spring or summer. Both now have their work under contract.

So....what if you decided today, this afternoon, this week, you're going to write the story the way YOU really want to write it without whispering to yourself—I can't put THAT in THIS kind of book—and then did it? What if you let out the mischievous imps of childhood imagination and risked doing the things you aren't supposed to be able to do? What kind of marvelous story might you create—and what if you could have FUN creating it?


At 6:27 AM, Blogger Dianna Love said...

Delle -What a great way to present the BIAW concept. I love the idea of having fun for a week. We had fun when we started writing because we weren't writing for anyone but ourselves. I love writing, but there are days it would be nice not to "worry" over every scene and just write.

Taking a week to just write at break neck speed and avoiding editing would be like a vacation for the mind.

Wonderful ideas. I can see where you had fun writing SINS OF THE HEART.

At 7:35 AM, Blogger Mo H said...

I'm giving myself the present of book-in-a-week as an early Christmas gift--in December. I promised myself I'd finish this book before the end of the year and I am. I'm looking forward to the fun!

At 8:12 AM, Anonymous Christine said...

I'm going to utilize BIAW in January for my next idea. I love the idea of writing without my inner editor on my shoulder.

At 9:43 AM, Blogger April said...

Dianna, Exactly! It IS like a vacation for the mind.

Mo h, You go girl! I'll be cheering for you. What a great present to give yourself!

Christine, And January is a great time to do it, too!


At 11:41 AM, Blogger Delle Jacobs said...

April, this is such great fun! Thanks for telling us about it! I've used BIAW a number of times, especially while I was still working. A group of us in the Beau Monde would often line it up with a holiday, or when there was one close, I'd arrange a few extra days off attached to it, and write for even more days.


A lot of us have adapted the BIAW structure in different ways to suit various purposes. Sometimes it's been a second draft, sometimes even a galley proof. Some people have kept right on working through the whole week, eking out only an hour or so a day. But the page count is incredible if we really applied ourselves.

Some things I like about the structure are the freedom to just have fun, the shorter time involved, the locking up of the editor. After all, why can't a writer have un at her work?

At 3:06 PM, Blogger Dianna Love said...

April - I just realized I had a blonde moment. This is YOUR post - and a terrific one. I like the idea of looking at a week of just having fun writing. Thanks for the post. BTW - tell us what you're working on.

Mo - I love the idea of giving yourself a present of working on your book for a week.

Christine - Planning to use it on the next project is good motivation to jump in deep with a book right off the bat.

At 4:19 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

So nice of you to share BIAW here, April!

I love the concept of making writing fun.

At 4:32 PM, Blogger Emily said...

I never follow the week guideline, but this is how I write all my rough drafts now. I just plow forward in time chunks of time carved out of my life. I never reread or revise until the very end. It's a fantastic system for me.

April, you're my hero for introducing me to this way of writing!

At 4:37 PM, Blogger April said...

Delle, I truly believe our brains work differetly--and better--when we're having fun! I love that you've been able to work on your books this way.

Dianna, Hey, we blonds have to stick together! Right now I'm between projects.

Diane, I love talking about Book in a Week. I love sharing the idea of having fun with whatever we do.

Emily, That's the beauty of this concept--that you discover and can use it in whatever way works best for YOU. So glad it's worked well for you!

At 4:55 PM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Hi April, thanks for sharing! You definitely have made me want to give the BIAW a try. I should be ready after Christmas. Can't wait.

At 5:38 PM, Blogger April said...


If you let yourself recapture the magic of playing "make believe" you'll have a great time AND write better than you ever have before. And yeah, early January is a good time to start. That's why I've scheduled my next BIAW class for then.

At 6:06 PM, Blogger Delle Jacobs said...

How about let's do a WNP BIAW in January? Sometimes the Beau Monde BIAW group- which has been around for several years- does a "rolling week", because people can't all agree on one specific week, and some people like to do two weeks in a row. Also some people who meant to do the first week got waylaid but were able to do the second one.

The idea I like best is people challenge themselves rather than each other. We clear our schedules as much as possible, even pre-planning and pre-cooking meals, and then we just let go and fly. I always need to do heavy prep including research first, unless it's a book I've already started, but that's a natural way for me to "fly".

If some of you or all- want to try this, I'll e happy to play cheerleader, gangleader or whatever.

At 9:25 PM, Blogger Christine said...

I want to do it. My birthday is in January and my daughter is heading to DC for the inauguration during that time so I will have oodles of time to write. How will it work? April, is it a class online? I try to take a class every month. This is a great idea for that month.

At 9:55 PM, Blogger Delle Jacobs said...

I swiped the below schedule for April's BIAW workshop from her website. Notice the fourth week is the intensive writing week, where you put into action what you've learned.

That, unfortunately for me, is the one week I can't do it, because that happens to start the day before my first Samhain book, APHRODITE'S BREW (written in first draft in a BIAW), comes out in print. And I intend to do lots of promo!

However if anyone wants to, I can do the week before, and we can also overlap weeks if we need to.

Weeks 1-3: Preparing to write the first draft of a book in one week
Creating compelling characters or how to write about real people in nonfiction
Planning plot elements or structure in a nonfiction book
Significance of names
Effective paragraph and sentence structure
Using imagery and sensory detail to add impact
Writing effective dialogue
Creating a productive writing environment
Enlisting the support of those around you
Mentally gearing yourself up to write faster (and better) than you thought you could

Week 4: Intensive Writing Week (August 30 to September 7) (This is about discovering how writing fits into YOUR life. You can't do it wrong. You won't fail. No matter what happens you will discover more about yourself as a writer than you thought possible during that ONE WEEK of writing!)

Week 5: Evaluating the writing experience itself
Making revisions
Sending out material

At 10:06 PM, Blogger April said...


I'd love to have you take the class if you're interested. Thanks Delle for posting the info! (I'm also offering a class on revisions Dec. 1 to 12 which uses the same concept of having fun and doing things in an intuitive way.) Full details are up on my website about cost and how to sign up for the class(es).

Really the bottom line is to find what brings YOU joy as you write and works best for YOU. Put 100 writers in a room and you'll get 100 sets of rules of what's the best way to write. Part of our jobs as writers is sorting through all the information out there and discovering what works best for US.

At 10:23 PM, Anonymous Pat said...

Hi all,

Having taken April’s class, I just had to stop by and tell you how much I love BIAW.

I always start with a premise like say: Cinderella wants to go to the ball. Cinderella can’t go to the ball. Cinderella goes to the ball. What amazes me is how Cinderella accomplishes all of this. My draft always ends up with characters I couldn’t possible come up with who do things I’d never think of in a million years because BIAW puts you in a creative state of mind you have never lived in before.

I highly recommend taking April’s class. I recommend you listening to her prep even if think you normally would not work that way. Trust me, you will change your mind and use a lot more of the techniques than you ever think you would.

Thanks, April, for teaching me the BIAW concept.

Pat Marinelli

At 5:34 AM, Blogger Kristl said...

I have participated in the BIAW with you a number of times. The freedom to write without the self editor is great. I never know what will come out - sometimes things quite unrelated to what I had planned! The idea of having fun writing was not alien, exactly, but maybe forgotten, and each time I am renewed by the experience. I have also used my owm mini BIAW - just keeping that same feeling of lack of pressure - for a weekend, and it has a residual effect.

At 6:58 AM, Blogger Christine said...

Is the course only in the summer? I will take the course next summer (perfect timing as my daughter heads back to school in early August). I do want to try it in January as well. I found a website for it, but I am not sure it is the same thing.

April, I will check out your website after I am finished my GH entry.

The revision workshop sounds great as well. I'll consider it as a way to keep me writing during December.

At 10:25 AM, Blogger April said...

Pat and Kristl, Thanks for the kind words! It was great fun having you in my classes and I loved the ideas you came up with!

Christine, I offer the Book in a Week class every few months. Here's the link for the info on the classes. April Kihlstrom. I also have a class notification email list. If I were more organized, I'd have my classes mapped out for a year ahead. LOL! OTOH, then I might have to turn down groups that hire me to run a private version of my class.

At 6:07 PM, Anonymous Christine said...

I signed up this morning on your website/yahoo group for emails about the next class. I can't wait!!


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