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Forget NaNoWriMo—Take The Writerland Challenge

Let’s Set Our Own Writing Goals This Month
Yesterday marked the first day of the 14th annual National Novel Writing Month, and I wish all participants the very best success. For those of you who, like me, do not plan to participate because you’ll likely write 1666 words of crap every day in order to meet the 50,000-word deadline by the end of the month, I have a different challenge for you. Set a smaller goal, something that is both realistic but challenging and that fits with your longer-term writing goals, and stick with it this month. We’ll report back here each Thursday to log our progress and to cheer each other on (and hold each other accountable), and if you’re on Twitter, use the hashtag #TTWC to check in daily (Thanks, Sierra, for this great idea!).

My Goal
My goal is to complete my next book proposal. Right now I have 18 sample pages. I need another 20 plus an outline, chapter synopses, and a marketing plan. I figure I need to write 300-500 words per day for the first two weeks and then spend the last two weeks revising, writing the outline and chapter synopses, and making my marketing plan. So my goal for the next two weeks is to write 300-500 words. I’ll revise that goal in two weeks for the second half.

Why I Need Your Help
I love my writers’ group and I’m taking a wonderful personal essay class from a colleague of mine at the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto, but what’s lacking in my writing life is people to hold me accountable for getting my writing done. My clients hold me accountable for getting my editing done. I hold myself accountable for blogging every week, my kids hold me accountable for getting their food on the table, but no one cares if I write. And sometimes I’m too tired to care myself. So … I need your help! Hold me accountable! And I’ll do the same for you.

Let’s Do It!
Who’s in? To encourage you to join me, I will reward the first ten people who sign up (in comments below) and COMPLETE their goal (no cheating!), by featuring you and your work in a wrap-up blog post at the end of the month. I will also draw one of those names out of a hat and send you some homemade English toffee (if you live in the U.S. Sorry, foreigners.)

67 comments to Forget NaNoWriMo—Take The Writerland Challenge

  • I'm in! I love the idea of a Thursday reporting. My goal: to complete the revisions on my whole manuscript by the end of the month. This will include writing new material, cutting a bunch of old, and re-purposing other bits.

    Hey, how about a unique Twitter hashtag for this so we can check in with each other during the week on Twitter? #Writerlandchallenge — too long?

    • meghancward

      How about #TTWC? (Take The Writerland Challgenge) And maybe if you're lucky, no one else will sign up and YOU will get the English Toffee! 🙂 What is your daily goal for this week, by the way?

  • I'm in! I love toffee. Also, I need to finish revisions to my book proposal and third sample chapter, and I'm giving myself a stretch goal of finishing revisions to Chapter 4 too. Thanks for giving me a way to feel less guilty about not doing NaNoWriMo.

  • KLM

    I juuuuuust finished a hard revision & sent it off to my agent. Like, literally three hours ago. So I'm taking the weekend off and then I'm starting something new on Monday. So my goal is to have a completed outline for a new project by the end of the month. Does this count?

    Also, I'm happy to whup yer ass about writing if you need. No challenge required. 😉

    • meghancward

      That counts! And yes please, my ass needs whooping! Do you have any daily goals?

      • KLM

        Just to spend one hour per day thinking about nothing but new possibilities and not let my mind get bogged down by crap/doubt/etc. If I can put a few of those thoughts down in the form of notes, that would be even better.

  • Melina

    I'll bite. I need to edit the full draft of my manuscript for the first time. Start to finish. Two hours or ten pages a day of editing five days a week including. Including Thanksgiving. Can she do it????

    • meghancward

      Yes, she can! Two hours or ten pages a day is a good, concrete goal. You're not on Twitter yet are you? If you are, use #TTWC to track your daily goals, and let me know your handle, so I can hassle you daily!

  • I would enter, but that means completing my novel which only has one chapter written. I'm not sure that I'd be able to get it done.

    • meghancward

      April, why not pick a smaller goal? Say 500-700 words a day? That would give you another 14,000-20,000 words.

  • extremelyavg

    I'm completely swamped, writing wise, right now. I've just gotten back the last of my edits for Henry Wood: Time and Again, from my other editor (Not Megan), and was about to start getting together Henry Wood: Perceptions, with the idea of asking my other other editor (Meghan) if she had time to take on a project.

    I've got a secret WIP, which I've not shown anyone or described at all, that is just over 30K words and a renewed vigor to write better quality blog posts, nightly. My enthusiasm for creating original photos and graphics for the aforementioned blog posts, has added another bit of daily stuff to my "to do" list.

    So, naturally, I've decided that I AM going to do a NANO. The silliest part is that I'm going to write the sequel to the secret project, even though I'm not done with the first book. I'm also starting almost two days late.

    Right now, I've got 447 words.

    I know the point was to take up the Writerland Challenge and NOT do a novel, but I really want to see if I can, with all my other stuff (oh, I forgot I'm also trying to finish the non-fiction about my friend Steve Cannon, who ran around Lake Michigan, 40 Marathons in 40 Days).

    So, may I take up the challenge, but do a novel?

    • extremelyavg

      Actually, this is my entry…

      1) Publish Henry Wood: Time and Again, in both Kindle and Print
      2) Get Henry Wood: Perceptions, into one file, do one more pass of editing, and send off to either Meghan (if she has time) or my other editor
      3) Write a Novel
      4) 5K words on Lake Effect

      • meghancward

        Damn, Brian, that's a lot! You can definitely do a novel, but are you SURE you want to take that much on in 28 days? Did you sign up for NaNoWriMo? Anyone who signed up for NaNoWriMo is more than welcome to join The Writerland Challenge, too. We'll encourage you every day to write your 1666 words. Use the hashtag #TTWC to track your daily goals. And email me about the editing. I'm booked this month but may be able to do it in December. (Is that too far away?)

  • A challenge I make up myself? That's my kind of challenge 🙂 I'm aiming for 500 words a day on my WIP. I'v'e currently got a full rough draft written out, but it tallied up to only 50K. Now I'm trying to flesh it out to full novel length, with about 6K down so far. If I can stick with this, I'll add another 15K in November, bringing me to a nice publishable 70K by December! I usually write about 300 words a day, so this will be a push, but manageable. Woo! Go challengers!

    • meghancward

      Good luck, Emily! Use #TTWC to check in daily if you're on Twitter, and I'll see you back here Thursday for our weekly checkin,

  • This is great; I've been stubbornly doing it every November, so it's great to have a crowd! My goal is to finish a just-begun restructuring/revision of my middle grade novel in verse. The challenge to me is that I'm also working on a picture book project that takes a huge amount of time and focus. But I want to finish the novel!

    • meghancward

      Carol, what is your daily goal? Since you probably don't want to set a word count goal, do you want to set an hourly goal? Use #TTWC to check in daily if you're on Twitter.

  • Maia

    I love this. I would like to complete one chapter of my book (about 5K words,) have a rough draft of another and send out 10 pieces to literary magazines or websites for publication. This week I'll have a rough draft of that first chapter and send out 3 pieces.

    • meghancward

      Great goals, Maia! If you're on Twitter, use #TTWC to check in daily. Otherwise, I'll see you back here Thursday for our weekly checkin.

  • I'll take the challenge. I abandoned my novel about 30,000 words into it, got distracted with marketing my first novel. Now my heroine is stuck on a yacht in a mucky slough off the Sacramento River and I urgently need to get her back on dry land. My goal is 500 words a day, 7 days a week, at least 15,000 words by Nov. 30.That will get me close to novel length and I can begin revisions by Jan. 1. I've allowed my writing intentions to drift and accountability will help me regain focus. My twitter handle is #kcamp300.

    • meghancward

      A great, clear-cut goal, Kate! I'll see you on Twitter and back here Thursday for our weekly checkin.

  • I'll be in too. My goal is to complete a draft of a chapter for my book. Not absolutely polished, but a draft. I don't want to set a word goal because I am not there yet.

    • meghancward

      Great, Frances! It really helps me to achieve my own goal knowing that all of you are holding me accountable! You can check in on Twitter using #TTWC, even if you don't have a daily word count goal.

  • annerallen

    I've just finished my latest novel and sent it off to my editor this week. I found that having a daily wordcount goal helped me write 50,000 words in two and a half months. But some days I'd go into negative territory because I'd do some editing along the way. The two steps forward, one step back kind of writing works for me, but I know it doesn't work for everybody.

    But now I'm exhausted. People who tell me I should write another one without any downtime to catch up on other stuff are not of my tribe. I admire them, but I can't do that. I'll be blogging about that tomorrow–incorporating some thoughts I first expressed on this blog last spring.

    • meghancward

      Take a break, Anne! I strongly believe in downtown between projects. And congratulations on completing your latest novel. Hurrah! I look forward to your post tomorrow. Last Sunday's was great, too!

  • akamissi

    I know I am late, but I want to stick to my writing goals too. I have several but this month I want to keep focus on writing on my blog every Monday and Friday. But just hearing your goals inspire me that I have to write more, lots more!

  • Jane Moore

    Hi – I would like to be part of the challenge. My goal is to actually do what I always plan to do, i.e. write 3 hours each of the 5 days I do not work, and to do free writing for a reasonably short time on the 3 days I write (maybe 20 minutes?). Look forward to checking in on Thursday – even though I will only have 2 nonworking days and 2 working days till then.

  • Gloria

    I am writting to hold you accountable, a big lol it takes great majesty to continue to hold your conscious accountable for what your charachers endure, depending if you are a talented writer of fiction or non-fiction. In that case I would easily be inclined to say that can be paralying depending on the depth and scope of popularity of your characters, again are they real or imangined? Are their problems real or imanginery? Sometimes the real problems can be humdingers, and not little imaninery problems either, sometimes there can be many heart wrenching moments that people endure, along with outside influences. It isn’t always easy to tie it up in a pretty bow, but thats what makes writing effusive and different and ecletic that which strikes more than nerve, but the essence to challenge the status quo and learn from the eras that created the problem in the first place.

  • I'm going for it, Meghan; your post is perfectly timed! My goal is to have a short story ready for submission by the end of the month. That means I need to push myself to complete a draft (always hard for a constant editor like me) within the next 2 weeks, and then polish it in time for December 1st. Once that's done, I'll have no choice but to submit to journals (another challenge of mine). Good luck to everyone on their own challenges!

  • I'm in! I'm shooting for finishing a draft of my novel (draft #8!) by the end of this month so I can submit it to my writing group and (hopefully) have it ready to send out to agents soon after.

  • Kristan

    Great idea! I need to think about what a more realistic goal might be… but I'm definitely on board with the spirit of this Writerland Challenge! 😀

    • meghancward

      So glad you are aboard! Let us know your daily goals so we can hassle you about them on Twitter with hashtag #TTWC! And we'll report back here Thursdays with weekly progress.

      • Kristan

        Oh, I don't think I'll be doing daily goals. Weekly maybe. (Maybe.) A goal for the month is most likely. 😛

  • Tina

    This is a great idea! Alas, I am a bit too late to reap the 'generous rewards' hehe!! But I LOVE the idea. I belong to a small group of writers in my small Canadian city, there is aprox. 15 or so of us, and everyone except myself, is taking the Nano challenge. I didn't partake, or ever have, because quite frankly I don't see the purpose of it. I write, I write everyday, sometimes I write 1666 and sometimes I write 5000…what does it matter? I'm writing a book. I completed a 170,000 word first draft, I am currently doing the first re-write, I am working hard, trying hard and learning alot. What could I possibly accomplish by sitting down to write as you so correctly put it…50,000 words of crap. A lot of planning and thought went into the first draft, the plot and characters were already established before I started (yes I am a planner)…and I still have alot of work ahead to make it better. I was refreshed to say the least, to find others, who believe that NaNo, although a good kick in the behind for many, is for most, a way to say outloud..'I'm writing a book!" Well, thats great…so write it. You didn't need November to do it….just my opinion.

  • lindseycrittenden

    I'm WAY too late to win a mention but wanted to say this is a great idea and thank you.

  • Better late than never, so I'm joining in! Goal: I would like to rewrite two chapters from my memoir into standalone pieces that I could submit to be published on their own. Getting back into my 5 a.m. writing routine would certainly help, so here we go!

  • Jane Moore

    First check in: Didn't do so well but joined late. Wrote one day -11/6, and was too tired to write even 15 minutes the next day. But starting Friday – a new week. I am becoming aware of how much time I spend during writing time doing other things before actually sittng down to write. I feel like a dog circling around before he/she lies down.
    Is this where we're to post how we do?

  • Oh, smart! I already jumped on the NaNo train – totally cheating, using it as motivator/accountability police for getting more chapters for my memoir – but this would've been perfect. Same time, next year? Best wishes and encouraging thoughts to everyone!

    • meghancward

      Definitely same time next year, Tele! I always feel left out that I'm not participating in NaNoWriMo, but it's just not for me. "Same Time Next Year" is a great movie, by the way. I had to perform a scene from it in an acting class when I lived in LA. I had to pretend I was going into labor and had no CLUE how painful it really is.

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