Tips for Participating in Writing Challenges

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On the first day of the new year, Jeff Goins' 500 Words A Day Writing Challenge began. Jeff's posts on this challenge had entered my inbox. I read them, and I thought: "I already have goals set. Probably shouldn't sign up."

With each post I read, I was tempted. Jeff makes a good case for his challenge. You'll note in his post at the link above Jeff shares the following:

Here’s what I know about writing: It happens in small bites. Step by step. One little chunk at a time.

This sounded easier. I pondered the possibilities for three days and on January 4th I began the challenge.

I talked with friends who had signed up. And Jeff's rules for the challenge made it seem like a reasonable challenge to help shape a new habit of writing daily. After all, Jeff's own philosophy of 500 Words says it all:

My 500 Words is a 31-day challenge designed to help you develop a daily writing habit and become a better writer.

I will be the first to tell you that I didn't write every day. This is obvious since I didn't begin until January 4th. But there were other days where life did intervene, and I didn't write. A longstanding rule in our home before and after retirement, Sundays are reserved for family time and to honor the Sabbath. I knew those days I wouldn't be writing.

At the end of January 31st, I had written a total of 16,011 words, many more than I had written per month when I started the challenge.

And the challenge goes on even with Jeff in Africa and February underway. A strong community has grown on Facebook where we gather to record our successes and not so successful days. With January's success, I intend to stick with the challenge in February.

No matter the context of the writing challenge you choose to take part in, the following tips may be helpful to you:

  • Set aside a time each day specifically for writing, hopefully away from distractions.
  • Do not edit as you write--free write. There'll be time later for editing.
  • Remember: This is to help develop the habit of writing every day.
  • If you miss a day, don't beat yourself up. Life intervenes, and there's always tomorrow.
  • If you don't make the goal each day, at least write something.
  • Hopefully, your writing will be on a specific project but perhaps it won't. That's OK too.
  • Allow yourself freedom to write and let the words flow.

My takeaway:I now realize I can sit down and write almost every day, and I can forgive myself on the days that I don't. And I finished the 31-day 500 Word Challenge!

My goal now is to write every single day. Writing is my passion, and my passion feeds the rest of my life. 

And for you, why not consider coming along with us in February to get a feel for how this challenge works? You just might like it!