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Why You Need to Write-A-Thon! By Rochelle Melander

Dear Writers,

WAT_participantToday, 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

2014 Ironman

2014 Ironman

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!




11 Responses

  1. thank you, Rochelle. I have been drawn to you, directed to you by friends, reading you, appreciating you. Thank you for your constancy for your half of our “friendship”! I will start picking up the slack on my end by participating in the Write A Thon. And hopefully, by the end of it will contact you for some coaching on things I’ve written. Thank you.

    1. writenowcoach

      Hey Liz, thanks for reaching out! Best wishes with the write-a-thon! I look forward in hearing how it all went in August! 🙂

  2. Hi Rochelle –
    As you know, you are one of my heroes! You have inspired me, comforted me, calmed me. I am going to try to write 1000 words a month in July. And, yes, I know that’s very ambitious, but I’m still going to try. It’s going to be raw, emotional and professional – sometimes at the same time. It will not include FB posts or e-mails, but it will include blog posts, personal essays I don’t care to share, professional writing proposals, etc. It might not be easy, since I will be out of town a bit, but I want to write this amount as an average. Might not be pretty, but it will be a good discipline and will hopefully get me launched into a new stage. Am very excited.

    1. writenowcoach

      Yeah, you! I think 1000 words a day is a great goal. And I love that you’ve given yourself permission to write lots of different stuff! 🙂

    2. writenowcoach

      And thanks for the kind words! 🙂 I’m so jazzed about this new phase in your life. Can’t wait to see how it turns out!

  3. Yes! The hardest part can be getting started and then staying motivated. It’s important not to over think it and just start writing. It’s a great point that inspiration most often strikes while you are writing. Just free write and see where your imagination takes you!

    1. writenowcoach

      Kristen, Thanks for stopping by the blog! It’s amazing what we can do if we actually sit down to write and free writing is a great tool. Thank you for reminding me!

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