My 2014 New Year’s resolution was to write 500 words every day.
Maybe that doesn’t seem like a big deal, but as a high school English teacher swamped with essays to read and assess, it can be daunting. Usually I’d write on weekends, during school vacations, and once in a while on days when the grading pile lightened up.
During Christmas vacation 2013, I planned to write. And then, I didn’t.
Writers know this feeling, when you finally have all the time in the world to write and you…well, you basically wallow and beat yourself up about not writing. I had to take a hard look at the fifteen years of teaching and the two unedited manuscripts and many half-baked ideas trapped in my laptop. I wondered why I kept letting my teaching and family priorities take precedent over my writing when writing is the thing that fuels me the most.
So after a few days of binge watching Doctor Who on Netflix, I took a shower to shake off the funk of not writing like I had promised myself. Since I was angry and bitter, I turned my anger towards the writers of Doctor Who. (Don’t get me wrong here, I am a huge fan.) As I washed my hair, I decided that despite the awesome adventures, the series has a major flaw–why would any sane person go into the TARDIS? It’s absurd! Come on, if a TARDIS appeared outside and a strange man calling himself The Doctor asked you to come inside, how many women would go? Zilch.
That got me thinking about what would make people go with a stranger…
And then BAM. An entire YA sci-fi, two-book concept flooded my brain. I thought, No, this is too easy. I got out of the shower and asked my husband and teenage daughter to listen to the concept and tell me if it was stupid. They listened, and then my husband said, “I’d see that movie.”
I wrote the rest of vacation and didn’t want it to end once school started back up. Thus, I began my New Year’s resolution. However, I knew that I needed accountability or my work and home life would take over.
I looked to Twitter and found some women talking about posting to #dailywordcount for their resolutions. Perfect. I returned to work with the hope that I would make time to write each day. No, I didn’t end up writing every day, but I wrote more than I ever had during the school year. I posted to #dailywordcount for a while, but hardly anyone responded to my tweets.
By the end of the school year, the manuscript for Book 1 was almost finished. I made another goal to finish in the summer. But like Christmas vacation, summer started and I choked. Maybe I was exhausted from the school year, but I needed to renew my motivation. I started the #JulyWritingChallenge on Twitter to stay accountable and to support other writers in the process. Maybe it’s the teacher in me, but rather than letting the hashtag just build on its own, I decided to take lead of the hashtag, track writers who joined, and keep tweeting out support.
I never thought I would meet such wonderful writers who not only have posted and shared their support with others, but also have given their time and future commitment to keeping these monthly challenges going. I don’t know what will happen to the monthly writing challenges long-term, but I am grateful to all the wonderful writers who I’ve met. We truly have become a great online community for writers.
(UPDATE: I finished my manuscript in #JulyWritingChallenge and completed editing in #SeptWritingChallenge! Win-win!)
P.S. Special shout-out to Sara Whitford at @sarawhitford for building this website for the group! Thank you!