Sunday, August 8, 2010

One Page a Day

I'm participating in a six-week writing challenge. On Jungle Red Writers, Jan Brogan challenged readers to write one page every day before checking personal email. Sounds simple, right? It's just one page.

Many writers, me included, have found the Internet to be a big black hole of distraction. There's that blog to read. That Facebook to catch up on. That Twitter feed to update. The email Inbox containing daily digests from three different Yahoo groups. All of which can be about writing: the craft, publishing, upcoming events, pitfalls, celebrations. We also hear that many publishers do little to promote 'mid-list' books, so these activities are crucial for getting name recognition and building a following, even before publication.

But when does that leave time to actually write? It's hard to carve out the time, especially when you hold down a day job, like I do. I often write only on my non-work Fridays. My most productive period, however, was when I participated in another challenge in February. That one, the Guppies Chocolate Challenge, was to write as many words as you could in the month of February. The winner was to be sent chocolate by all the other participants. Well, I didn't win the challenge, but I did win by writing 28,000 words and finishing the first draft of Speaking of Murder.

How did I write an average of 1000 words a day? I squeezed it in around the edges. I wrote after work. I wrote before work. I wrote every weekend day. I wrote in the passenger seat on a trip to New Jersey. And it worked.

One important component, though, was concentration. And you really can't focus on following your characters around and writing down what they do if you're always taking little side trips into cyberspace and answering email, reading what Sisters in Crime is up to, responding to a fellow Guppy's recent success or a question from Crime Scene Writers group, doing a little research on blood splatter.

So the practice of this page-a-day thing BEFORE INTERNET TIME is already working. In two days I have produced four pages, on a brand-new book, the next in the series. Stay tuned! It's easier than it seems.


  1. Nice to see your blog. I need to take this challenge too. Sounds motivating.

  2. I like the idea of writing whenever you can. It is the "state of mind" switching that it demands that I have trouble with. It also implies writing when you just don't feel like it, but hey no one said writing isn't work, eh? I shall endeavor to follow your fine example!

    Happy to see your blog, Max!


  3. ohhhh, so accurate! the internet is a major distraction and it's so easy to convince yourself you're doing something productive if you're surfing an industry site or a fellow writer's blog, etc. I like the idea of working before email- think I'll try that tomorrow! good luck, Edith!


  4. Thanks for the comments! My first ones...

  5. It sounds like you are writing about me. I also got a lot done during the chocolate challenge, but did not start this one page a day challenge. What day are you on? Maybe I can catch up. The important thing as you have shown is to do the writing first. I like the look of your new blog. Good luck.
    Judy in California
    aka Judith Klerman Smith

  6. Thanks, Judy. You can catch up! Today was only day 3. They made provisions for that.

  7. Congratulations on starting your blog! AND HUGE congratulations on finishing your manuscript!!

    As a former participant in the Chocolate Challenge I know the magic that happens when you are motivated to focus your energy and--as you say--not take little side trips to cyberland (or even the other mundane places!)

  8. Yes, hurray! And you are so right--the one page a day WRITE FIRST challenge made me wonder if I could do it. Now I'm absolutely empowered! I love it.

    And yes, yes, Judy, you can join us at any time!

    Edith! Congratulations! Can't wait to read your story. Hurray!

  9. Thanks Susan and Hank!

    I got to work this morning at 6:30, started up FireFox, and then went, "Oops!" So I pulled out my thumb drive, opened my WIP, wrote my page, and THEN checked my gmail. And since I have actually done a little plotting ahead of time, the page only took 10-15 minutes to write, so I didn't feel guilty doing it at work. Every page counts.

  10. I have trouble staying away from checking the email! Am I snoopy, curous, or what? It's ridiculous. No wonder why the high school kids spend so much time text messaging and not paying attention! It's hard to write!