Today, we’re starting the July Write-A-Thon (and the second half of 2014!), and today’s tip talks about why you need to write-a-thon. If you want more support, follow the Write Now! Coach Facebook page for daily encouragement, and write!
And, think about coming to my class next Tuesday, July 8, 2014 at 7:00 PM CDT at Nonfiction Writers’ University. I’ll be talking about Three Shifts You Must Make To Succeed As An Author. The class is free, but you must sign up here.
Happy Writing! Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach
Why You Need to Write-A-Thon
by Rochelle Melander
Be careful what you wish for, because you might not be dreaming big enough. —Dar Williams
For the last three years, I’ve completed the Idle Ironman at our local Y (and I have the t-shirts to prove it). Although I finished, the idle ironman was a huge challenge for me—a recovering wimp! But by challenging myself to do something really hard, I gained confidence and grew stronger. The idle ironman helped me to see myself as an athlete.
If you’re a writer who wants to write regularly but don’t think you have the time, talent or tools, I’d like to challenge you to take on a write-a-thon this summer. Doing a write-a-thon will help you turn your writing hobby into a habit. And guess what? I’m doing it, too! (Stop by my Facebook page for encouragement every day during July!) On top of that, the creators of National Novel Writing Month have launched Camp NaNo—occurring this July, so you don’t have to write alone.
Here’s how to write-a-thon:
1. Choose a project. What writing project are you most passionate about working on right now? Write what strikes your fancy: a nonfiction book, a poem a day, a memoir, or even a graphic novel. Or write something that has to get done: query letters, that dissertation, or your weekly blog post!
2. Set a goal. This is your write-a-thon, so do what works for you. Your goal can be writing for a set amount of time each day, composing a certain number of queries each week, or writing a few hundred words a day.
3. Choose a cue. In the book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg describes the habit loop: Cue, Routine, Reward. Wannabe writers tend to depend on inspiration to cue them to write. Unfortunately, inspiration comes most frequently WHILE we are writing and not before. In order to succeed at the marathon, choose an external cue to trigger your daily writing practice. It helps if you can use a pleasant cue you’re already doing as a cue to write. This could be drinking your morning cup of coffee, walking to the library or local coffee shop in the middle of the afternoon, or changing into your writing clothes at the end of the day.
4. Get rewards. We tend to do the things that provide rewards—whether they are tangible, like a participant t-shirt, or intangible, like the feeling of success. Make a list of daily rewards for the write-a-thon—and make it a habit to reward yourself for writing every day. These rewards might be something as simple as giving yourself a sticker for achieving your daily goal, spending a few minutes on the Write Now! Coach Facebook page to see the daily meme, or taking a short walk outside. Don’t forget to plan a bigger reward for finishing the marathon.
5. Get support. In the middle of the idle ironman, when finishing seemed insurmountable, I depended on the encouragement and support of my workout buddies at the gym. Often a simple, “How’s it going?” or “Keep at it!” was all I needed to stay motivated. Invite a friend to share the write-a-thon journey with you and give each other daily support via email, phone, or in person contact.
Here’s my prediction: after you finish your write-a-thon, you will boldly claim, “I’m a writer.” And it will be true—because the write-a-thon will help you create the habit of writing every single day. Happy writing, writers!
Your turn: Share your write-a-thon goal below!