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Forget NaNoWriMo—Take the 2013 Writerland Challenge

Writerland Challenge

Photo by Leo Reynolds

















Let’s Set Our Own Writing Goals This Month

Yesterday marked the first day of the 15th annual National Novel Writing Month, and I wish all participants the very best success. Today marks the first day of the 2013 Writerland Challenge. The Writerland Challenge was designed for writers like you who want to take advantage of the spirit of NaNoWriMo by spending the month of November writing your butts off but who do not want to participate in NaNoWriMo for a variety of reasons. Maybe you’re a slow writer like me, and writing 1666 words a day is more likely to produce 50,000 words of garbage than a novel. Or maybe you’re working on something other than a novel, like a memoir, short story collection, or personal essay. Whatever the case, the Writerland Challenge is for you. It allows you to identify your own challenging writing goal and stick to it by holding other writers accountable while they hold you accountable as well. Every Saturday (Nov. 9, 16, 23, 30) we’ll check in here to log our progress. In the meantime, we’ll use the Twitter hashtag #TTWC to check in with each other throughout the week.


My Goal
My goal is to write 500-1000 words a day. What’s yours?


Why I Need Your Help

I’ve been doing a lot of editing, social media, and kid-related activities lately—like spending three straight days sewing Halloween costumes—but not a whole lot of writing. I need The Writerland Challenge to get back on track. I plan to put writing first this month and Facebook, Twitter, G+ and blogging last. But I need your help! Hold me accountable, and I’ll hold you accountable too. Just leave your Twitter handle along with your writing goal in comments below and I’ll pester you every day ONCE MY WRITING GOAL HAS BEEN COMPLETED to see how you’re doing.


One of the costumes I spent three days making. Can you guess what it is?











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 a … ah hem … twelve month period. I will also draw one of your names out of a hat using and send you a tin of my homemade English toffee (It’s really good! You don’t want to miss out on this opportunity!) So who’s in?

English Toffee2

This could be yours!







And NOW … a HUGE thank you to the first ten writers who signed up for the 2012 Writerland Challenge. You are super-awesome loyal Writerland readers, and each of you deserves a tin of English Toffee (But sorry, that’s not going to happen, or I won’t get any writing done this month!)


1. Sierra Godfrey
Be sure to check out Sierra’s blog. In addition to writing about her life as a writer and graphic designer, Sierra posts videos of sheep burping, cicadas returning, and cats exploring Ikea. What more could you ask for? Follow her on Twitter @sierragodfrey

2. Nancy Davis Kho
This cool lady is a music/humor blogger and BlogHer conference veteran (in case you need advice about BlogHer’14) who blogs about all things “M,” like motherhood and music and making a living and modern life. This post about premature obsolescence is particularly heart wrenching for mothers of all ages. Follow her on Twitter @midlifemixtape

3. Kristen Lippert Martin
Kristen, one of my favorite East Coast bloggers, is funny, funny, and more funny. Her debut novel Tabula Rasa comes out next fall, and I can’t wait to read it! Here’s a description: “In this contemporary YA thriller, a 16-year-old girl held in an isolated research hospital undergoes a forced experimental treatment to erase all recollection of her past. But when the procedure goes awry, she must face off against mercenaries sent to eliminate her once and for all.” Yikes! Follow her on Twitter @klipmart

4. Melina Selverston
When Melina joined the 2012 Writerland Challenge, she had just completed the first draft of her manuscript. Since then, she has polished her manuscript to the point that several agents have expressed interest in representing her. I’ve read her book, and it’s fantastic! Follow her on Twitter @melinamama

5. April
April is “a wife, a mother, a fitness coach.” After suffering from depression and gaining 100 lbs, April decided to do something about it. She started the blog “100 Lb Countdown” because she wanted to be fit and healthy for her family. Now she has a gazillion followers on both Facebook and Twitter. Go April! Follow her on Twitter @100lbc

6. Brian Meeks
Brian Meeks over at Extremely Average is the author of the Henry Wood Detective Agency series, which you can find on Amazon. About Brian: “In my youth, I thought of writing as something one did, when they were being punished by their English teacher. The memories of Mrs. Johnson and diagramming sentences still haunts me to this day. But alas, I started writing on Jan 2, and it turns out, it is more fun that a barrel of fun things.” Brian is also a wonderful woodworker! Follow him on Twitter @extremelyavg

7. Emily Wenstrom
Emily Wenstrom over at Creative Juicer describes herself as “Lit addict, movie junkie, writer. I’m a creative writer fascinated with science fiction, fantasy and monsters of all kinds. When I’m not writing about these, I’m a professional writer working in marketing and public relations. I am the founder and editor of wordhaus, a short story zine built for the digital age (submit your story!).” Follow Emily on Twitter at @emilywenstrom.

8. Carol Grannick
Carol Grannick is a psychotherapist whose tagline is “Focusing more on the writing and less on the publication.” She writes poetry, picture books, middle grade fiction, and creative nonfiction and is on Day Four Hundred and Sixteen of her blog. Follow her on Twitter @carolcgrannick

9. Maia Morgan
Since participating in the Writerland Challenge last year, Maia has completed two-thirds of her WIP, The Saltwater Twin, and published essays in Creative Nonfiction and The Chattahoochee Review. She was also a semifinalist for Fourth Genre’s Steinberg Essay Prize. Congratulations, Maia! You can follow her on Twitter @maia_morgan

10. Kate Campbell
Kate is the author of Adrift in the Sound . Her blog “focuses on the intersection of the arts, gardens and the environment. Posts include news, practical gardening advice, flash fiction, short stories, poetry, novel excerpts and photography.” If you’re looking for advice about toxic relationships, she has a great post up right now to help you navigate those murky waters. And be sure to follow Kate on Facebook!

CONGRATULATIONS to all the 2012 Writerland Challenge Winners! Who will be the first ten to sign up this year?

66 comments to Forget NaNoWriMo—Take the 2013 Writerland Challenge

  • I'm in! I'm working on an essay/memoir submission that is to be sent out in December. To be honest, I need to brainstorm more with other writers. So here I am 🙂

  • Sierra Godfrey

    Me again! I can definitely commit to at least 500-1000 words a day. Yay!

    • Meghan Ward

      So glad you are back, Sierra! Part of me wants to NaNoWriMo it and write a first draft of a novel, but I just don't have the time. 500-1000 words is a good goal for both of us.

  • I have always been very bashful when it came to my writing, but I'm a recent literature graduate and my big goal was to put myself out there and get involved in the community. This seems like a good way to reach out and wave the "I'm a Writer, Dammit!" banner. I'm in. I am currently working on my first serious piece which is a memoir. I am a slow worker on this because writing a memoir is a bit difficult, I find–so I will commit to 1,000 words a week. Thanks for doing this!

    • Meghan Ward

      Thanks for joining us, Courtney! And I see your Twitter handle below. I'm going to create a separate stream in HootSuite for everyone doing the Writerland Challenge.

  • meenarose

    I'm in. I am beginning to work on a Short Story Collection (Flash Fiction). Despite my busy schedule at home and at work, I'll be working on one piece of Flash Fiction (~1000 words) per week. In conjunction, I will be assembling my first every poetry chapbook. 🙂

  • sonia

    It's been ages since I wrote productively and actually completed the project I started. This might just work better for me than NaNoWriMo though I'm trying to complete that too. My goal is to complete a 20k story by the end of the month doing about 1k or more a day. And, if you really mean to followup on Twitter, I'm @SoniaLathem. 🙂

    • Meghan Ward

      Yes, I will follow you on Twitter, Sonia! I'll do it right now!

      P.S. I think I am your first follower!

  • I’m a rebel this year, as I’ve been in the past. Count me in. Though I’m doing the local NaNo write-ins each week here, I’m also not writing a novel.

    Instead, I have five projects that are in various stages of completion. My goal is to complete and submit at least three of the five by the end of the month. Each of these are shorter projects or they’re almost finished, but not quite.

    And since you’re giving us all a year to complete this challenge, I can expand my horizons even further in the accountability zone.

    Thanks, Mehgan, for this lovely challenge.

  • I forgot to leave my twitter it is! @CourtneyDalley

  • pennypriddy

    i'm in. i don't do twitter, though. i'm on facebook, if that helps. my goal is to finish the essay i have been working on since january. talk about slow.

    i'll add writing 1000 words a week.

    much better than nanwrimo. thanks


  • JadeCrystal

    I'm in! I'm a new writer – as yet unpublished – but I can commit to 500 or more words a day. With kids and my freelance editing, I can't commit to more than that. I, too, am a slow writer, and I do need motivation to keep at it. My goals: finish the short story I'm currently working on to submit to an anthology, write a new story to submit to a different anthology in early 2014, and finish two novels which are the first two books in a series and have both already been started. A lot but a year is a long time!

    My Twitter handle is @BloodandFires but I hardly ever check in there. You can also find me on Facebook. Thanks for this challenge!

    • Meghan Ward

      I am now following you on Twitter Jade. You have a lot of goals! I do think the key is consistency, though, so if you focus on the 500 words a day, I bet you'll achieve your goals!

  • I love this! I am a slow writer only because I have so many other obligations throughout the week. I'm thinking that I can safely commit to 1000 words a week. This will give me the motivation to finish the memoir I started years ago about my grandmother's WWII army nurse history. I don't have a twitter account, but feel free to pest me on Facebook!

    • Meghan Ward

      That sounds like a good goal, Rebecca! I just sent you a friend request on FB so I can pester you!

  • Happy Sunday mornng to me! I cleared my blogging calendar and other "to do" items for November so I could write seriously on a non-fiction manuscript but have not been able to fit in to the NANOWRMO box because of the genre. So I'm happy to have found this alternative. I'm in! 700-1000 words a day is my goal.

  • Hi,

    this is just what I need. I am a slow writer, and I've been so wrapped up in all sorts of things other than writing, I do need help with getting back on track. I have a draft of a novella that is about 3/4 complete. My goal is to finish the draft by the end of this year. In 2014 I want to polish the draft and start sending out queries to agents. Finally, I understand it's more wishful thinking than a goal, but if my manuscript is accepted 12 months from now, it will be just awesome!

    My Twitter handle is @Sasha_Palmer but I'm hardly ever on Twitter. I wonder if it'll be possible to touch base here, in Writerland?

    Thank you for the much needed challenge, Meghan.

  • I love this challenge, Meghan! Fantastic idea. I put down my manuscript so long ago, I can barely remember what it's about. You've inspired me to use this month to address the next steps and get writing again.

    • Meghan Ward

      So glad you are joining us, Christine! I am really looking forward to getting back to writing. I miss it!

  • Thanks for featuring my website in your blog Meghan! The Writerland Challenge will be a great opportunity for me to set some public deadlines for editing, not writing. I took a great revision workshop yesterday with Fran Lefkowitz and I plan to spend the month applying some of her strategies. So 2-3 chapters a week…

  • I am in too. A friend told me she was doing the NaNo challenge and i wasnt interested but this sounds perfect. I am super motivated and writing everyday but in November I will be traveling alot. But I still want to be in this, so my Twitter is #AfricaInside. Lets keep in touch. I dont need any toffee, just connection to other writers who are serious. Thanks so much.

  • Forgot to tell my goal. My goal is to write for 2 hours minimum a day on my book and to finish my first draft by April 30th. Also, when I want to write for my blog,, or for submissions then that will be outside of my 2 hour book writing time. Thank you for helping me clarify this goal. Loving this challenge already!

  • I am in. Sounds great. I am a published author looking forward to starting on a new book! With the Holidays coming, it will be a busy time but can commit to 500 words a week. I look forward to meeting everyone. I write children's books but also coffee table books which are short stories. My first coffee table book, The Last Cowboy has sold all over the world. It is a romantic western. I have a new Christmas children's book that was released in Aug. of this year. Called Waiting For Santa.

  • Maia

    Hi! Hooray for your Writerland Challenge! I'm in again! I'm the Maia from last year…my last name is Morgan. Since last year's Writerland Challenge, I've kept plugging away on my WIP, The Saltwater Twin, and continued to submit excerpts for publication. I've published essays in Creative Nonfiction and The Chattahoochee Review and was a semifinalist for Fourth Genre's Steinberg Essay Prize. I'm about two-thirds done with my book and my goal is to finish by the end of March. My November goal will be to finish the two chapters I have currently in progress and have a solid draft of two more. Thank you for the shout out on Writerland. My blog is and I am @maia_morgan on Twitter.

  • Andrea

    This is perfect for me because NaNoWriMo intimidated to me and I know that writing 1,666 words a day would be too much for me but I want to put more emphasis on writing! Thank you for providing this alternative. My goal is to write at least 500 words a day! My twitter handle is @smithjna.

  • Hi Meghan, I have a question. I would love to be in touch with you AND the other writers to create a forum for exchanging ideas etc. Is that what you have in mind here? If so, how best shall we do that?
    Thanks. Lori

    • Meghan Ward


      You're welcome to use the comments on any of the weekly checkin posts to share ideas and cheer each other on. Beyond that, let me see if I can get my software engineer husband to set up a forum. Not sure he has time this week.

  • stephcdawson

    I would love to be included! But I don't have Twitter, I promised my kids I would stay off, I do have Facebook and Tumblr…

    • Meghan Ward

      No worries, Stephanie. You can do weekly checkins here (I'll add a new post each week for participants to check in.)

  • stephcdawson

    ok my goal is… hard to pick, I write and edit 2 hours a day now and my online team is limited for health reasons, my goal is at least 500/week, should be able to handle that 🙂 woohoo!!

  • Patricia

    I’m signed up for nanowrimo but I’m already thinking I’m crazy to try this. I write first drafts in long hand which puts me at a disadvantage in terms of word count. My goal is to write for two hours each day, except weekends. I hope to establish a regular rhythm and routine for writing.

    • Meghan Ward

      I tried NaNoWriMo once, Pat, and I wrote a lot of crap just to make my word count. It ended up being a waste of time. But some people love it. Two hours/day is a great goal! I look forward to hearing about your progress on Saturday.

  • Hey Meghan – thanks for the kind shout out and for the chance to join in again! My goal for November is to revise my memoir from end-to-end for the first time, and get it to a point where I'd feel ok querying with the full MS. But I want toffee. What does a writer have to do to get toffee around here?!?!?!

    • Meghan Ward

      Nancy, you may just be the lucky winner of the toffee! If not, I just signed up to sell it at my kids' school craft fair, so you can always buy some off me at the end of the month 🙂

  • Hey thought I would give this a try…been slacking in the writing department lately…I like to write full chapters at one sitting but usually only do half at a time but this sounds like fun…so at least a full chapter a week is my new goal and if I do more then I will be a very happy camper 🙂 you can connect with me on twitter @dragynheart

    • Meghan Ward

      I am now following you on Twitter, Brenda, and will add you to my Twitter list. Break a leg this week with your one full chapter!

  • Meghan, thanks so much for creating a space for slow writers! NaNoWriMo felt like something I should do, but that pace is just not me. I'm about 1/3 through my memoir, with a May 27 manuscript deadline, and have really struggled to move my word count forward, too hung up on awkward lines, crappy descriptions, plain bad writing. My goal is to practice gracious acceptance of the shitty first draft, 1000 words/day. Thanks again for being such a supportive resource!


    • Meghan Ward

      Tele, I am now following you on Twitter. My goal is also to finish my *second* memoir. Good luck to both of us! I'm working on getting my husband to create a forum for this challenge.

  • A+O Curator

    I wish I would have learned about this sooner. No worries. I love this. Much more personal and real than the machine of NaNoWriMo. I've been distracted with everything other than my writing. This is just what I need to get back on track. I've been working on a short book for the past 2 years. That fact that it's not finished is a reflection of my life over that time. No more. Time to close it out. My goal is 801 new words per day. The total is split between final edits of the short book and words in the first draft of my memoir. After reading all the comments, I feel like I've found the right group for what I need right now. Hope I can be helpful to all of you. Much love and gratitude. Anthony – @aocurator

    • Meghan Ward

      Anthony, so glad you could join us! I'll follow you on Twitter, so I can pester you. 801 words/day is a good goal. I'm having trouble myself putting my writing first. It's too easy to get distracted with 59 other things. I haven't completed my goal for today, and I have a blog post to write, and an interview to do … and I really just want to go to bed and read.

  • Is it too late to do this? I've been sick, but need to write and be held accountable.

  • lindseycrittenden

    Once again, thanks for the kick in the butt. After a month of travel (no complaints there, but little writing done) and a few journalism deadlines, I'm staring at the novel again. So my goal is to get a decent 30 pages to my writers' group, meeting the night before Thanksgiving, and to parlay that into new sustained momentum to whip this 300-page revision into something I can think about showing the world. And Meghan, if your toffee is anywhere as good as your banana bread, I'm on!

    • Meghan Ward


      Are you writing 30 new pages or is this a revision to 30 completed pages? The toffee is seriously addictive. I just committed to selling it at our school craft fair. I'm going to be making a LOT of toffee this month! Good luck with the writing.

      • lindseycrittenden

        A little of both. I completed the pages but they need help. I cut some events and am working on new transitions, re-thinking some plot points. Thanks — l'll need good luck & maybe some toffee! (You must leave some in the G kitchen!)

  • […] and ultimately who cares?  So I’ll just say:  I’m back.  Thanks to Meghan Ward (of Writerland), I’m sitting down this Friday morning to post here.  “Are you still blogging?” […]

  • […] that I want to keep working on. So last year when Meghan Ward started her alternative to NaNo, the Writerland Challenge, I was in. That’s where we post what we intend our daily word count to be and then encourage […]

  • Lizzie Eldridge

    I love this idea and am currently thinking 'if only I could write 500 words a day'. I have a novel which is over 50,000 words into the writing but I haven't gone back to it for several months. Encouragement to keep writing is exactly what I need so I love this initiative, Meghan, and thanks 🙂
    My twiiter handle is @lizzie_eldridge