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One Year of Writing Challenges – Now What?

writing

In September, 2015, I discovered the monthly writing challenge on Twitter. The goal seemed simple: write 500 words per day or edit for one hour per day. Since I had just started getting back into writing fiction again after a long hiatus, it seemed like a good way to keep me going.

Now, a year later, as I’m finding myself at the anniversary month of my first entry into the challenge, I figured it would be a good time to look back and see what I’ve actually done this year and evaluate whether the writing challenge actually helped me do something I normally wouldn’t have.

First, let’s look at word count, since that’s the daily goal. I’m going to list them by month:

September 2015 10,364 words
October 2015 8,205 words
November 2015 50,000 words
December 2015 2,714 words
January 2016 2,855 words
February 2016 6,483 words
March 2016 6,330 words
April 2016 10,151 words
May 2016 2,985 words
June 2016 7,301 words
July 2016 6,412words
August 2016 8,221 words

The grand total: 121,994 words!

How many of these would I have written without being part of the monthly writing challenge? No idea. I’m guessing that October and November would have been about the same since both of those months were all about Nanowrimo and prepping for Nanowrimo but the rest is anyone’s guess. In fact, the October prep month might not have happened if not for a writing challenge buddy’s tip of where to go to find an appropriate prep challenge (thanks Martin!). In reality, it’s unlikely I would have gotten anywhere close to the above numbers.

As far as writing actual fiction, the numbers speak for themselves. Some months have been better than others. In some instances, inspiration has been flowing while other months have been hard…very hard. Yet, I think I have managed to accomplish a number of things I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t been trying to get to 500 words a day. Here’s a sampling:

  • The Nanowrimo novel I wrote was the first novel that I truly wrote with proper prep (if you can all it that). It’s only just now that I have returned to this story to give it the attention it deserves.
  • I’ve written several short stories and started several others.
  • I’ve dabbled with Wattpad for a year as well, exploring writers and writing on there.
  • I’ve experimented with Tablo and a few other writing sites, just to get a feel for what people do.
  • I submitted my first couple of short stories for publishing and although both were rejected, it was a learning experience either way.

    All together, I think it’s safe to say that this past year has been a fruitful year where I’ve learned a lot and I’ve met many writers on Twitter as part of this challenge that I truly admire and I’ve seen the product of their labors, read it and enjoyed it. Their writings and their own challenges have been and continue to be a great motivation for my own labors.

So what about the next 12 months? Will I be able to keep it up for another year?  The answer is: yes!  I intend to continue with the writing challenges but I also have some specific challenges of my own that I would like to accomplish.

  1. Edit and rewrite my Nanowrimo 2015 novel. I’ve just started going through this story again and the more I read it, the more excited I get about it. I think it’s a good story that needs a lot of cleanup and much better writing. So, I’ve started reading through it again, the imaginary red marker in hand, ready to cut and add. I’ve already realized that the story can be expanded quite a bit, I just need to get through it and jot everything down and then write it all again. In fact, Nano 2015 may turn into Nano 2016. Although I know the preference is to write something new (and I do have something in the works that would fit), I really hate to waste a good story and let it sit longer when I can get another rewrite done and actually move it forward. Ultimately, we’ll see where that goes.
  2.  Wattpad is an interesting platform in many ways. It can be a great way to create a following but it also requires dedication and a willingness to cater to what really seems to be mostly a YA audience. Fortunately, I’ve had a story brewing in my mind that I’ve been wanting to start writing specifically for publishing on Wattpad so we’ll see where that goes. The goal here is as much community and fan building as it is the writing.
  3. Get a story published. Short stories, flash fiction, novellas. I’ve got a lot of ideas and I’d like to get them out in between working on some of these other projects and in particular, I’d like to get them published somewhere. Since I’m currently dabbling in both flash fiction and short stories, I’m aiming to accomplish that for both of those categories. We’ll see how it goes.

Anyway, all of the above are of course subject to change but that’s what I’d like to accomplish. If you’re at all like me and feel like your mind is full of ideas that just have to find an outlet somehow, I encourage you to check out the Writing Challenge on Twitter. It’s a great bunch of people and it offers a great forum for encouragement and interactions. You’ll meet some new friends and discover some fantastic fiction by others and most importantly, you’ll do a lot of writing!

5 thoughts on “One Year of Writing Challenges – Now What?”

  1. Drew Martin says:

    I would have liked this, but I didn’t see a like button. I never knew you had a blog either. I never thought to add up my word count, and due to life my word count has been down lately. Plus I’m working on a poetry collection, so it’s draining sometimes and hard to get the words. Nice piece.

  2. Ontyre Passages says:

    Reevaluation is vital, which makes this post a great milestone. There are many measures to examine. You mention word count and consistency along with trying short stories, your first planned novel, and, of course, there’s your blog. Last time I reevaluated I did much the same. I examined recent learning that included story structure and voice. Two years ago, I jettisoned a story I’d been beating to death for a decade. That was a milestone, too. One aspect that separates writers who advance from those who don’t is the ability to step back and see where they can improve and what new avenues they can explore. You prove here that’s the high road you’ve chosen to take. That’s great to hear.

    1. Profile photo of Mattias
      Mattias says:

      Thanks 🙂 I’ve had a few stories like that too, stories that I wanted desperately to work but in the end, they just had to go. I don’t like to get to that point and more often than not I just let a story sit for a while to see if I can find a new direction…if not, yeah, out it goes. As you say, that’s a milestone in itself, knowing when a story is just bad and it’s time to say goodbye.

      1. Ontyre Passages says:

        Enjoy reading your NaNo story. You might just discover that gold nugget is actually an entire vein leading to an unexpected place. The writer’s journey is an exciting one!

        1. Profile photo of Mattias
          Mattias says:

          It is an unexpected journey! The Nanowrimo story was originally one idea that morphed a bit as I wrote it and now as I’m going through it again, I’m seeing yet another perspective. Should be good 🙂

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