Tag Archives: writing habits

Write by Midnight 2020 Roundup

Just as Write by Midnight has evolved over the past four years, so, too, have each of us as writers. We’re still discovering new things about our abilities and growing in our craft. Our journeys have been varied, interesting and unexpected. As we conclude Write by Midnight 2020, we’re excited to share with you how this year’s write-a-thon inspired and challenged each of us and how we plan to incorporate what we learned as we continue down the road to publication.

Laura Ayo

Laura Ayo: Write by Midnight is designed to help writers make steady progress on their manuscripts and develop or maintain daily writing habits. The beauty of the challenge is that it meets writers where they are without a lot of pressure. Don’t have more than 15 minutes to write today? That’s ok – just write for 15 minutes. But I needed something more from this year’s write-a-thon.

My story follows the journeys of two siblings who are separated from one another, and I had about a quarter of each of their story arcs left to write before I’d have a completed first draft of my manuscript. So my goal for this year’s WBM was to finish that draft. To succeed, I would need to write not only every day, but consistently write a lot of words – more than I usually do – every day. It felt like an unobtainable Go Big or Go Home-esque goal; and that was deliberate. I needed to set the bar high to see if I would push myself. By setting such an ambitious goal, would it ignite relentless determination in me to prove I could do the unlikely, much like a child digs in with a “watch me” attitude when an adult tells her she can’t possibly do something? I’m happy to report the answer is yes. I worked every day on the story – although some of those days weren’t writing days; they were research days. Having an extra day in the month because it was a Leap Year felt like a sacred gift. I wrote more than 4,000 words that day.

In the end, I didn’t finish the entire manuscript. But I completed one character’s arc, which helped me realize that seemingly unreachable goals aren’t out of reach after all. With 31 days in March, I know without a doubt that I can finish the other sibling’s storyline and have a complete first draft of an entire manuscript in one more month’s time. Just watch me.

Megan Norris Jones

Megan Norris Jones: I finished 2019 with a bang, completing a first draft of a new manuscript. As I wrote that draft and discovered issues with the story, I made notes of things to change in revision. My goal for Write by Midnight 2020 was to complete that initial revision list of things I already knew needed fixing before digging back into a more thorough revision process. The problem? I finished the list in January. Woohoo! or maybe Oops?  Either way, the final push to finish the manuscript in December followed almost immediately by a crash revision in January left me with absolutely no perspective on any aspect of my story. It was a perfect moment to step away and give myself a breather.

But . . . February is Write by Midnight. I LOVE Write by Midnight. I helped found Write by Midnight. I must participate in Write by Midnight.

I dug back in, and did my first read through of the completed manuscript. And had no idea what to do next. Maybe it was brilliant or maybe utter garbage. Difficult to say. So, I pulled out my favorite crafts books and searched for wisdom on revision. And still didn’t know what to do. Well, actually, I did know what to do. I just didn’t want to do it.

I needed a break from my manuscript. All the craft books recommended taking a break after completing a draft. But they didn’t mention what to do when that needed break coincided with your favorite annual writing challenge.

Finally, a natural disaster in form of a flood that threatened to inundate my parents’ home intervened. Don’t worry–the river crested lower than expected, so their home was spared. But we didn’t know that until after we had moved everything out of it and surrounded the house with sandbags over the course of two days. Definitely wasn’t writing, thinking about writing, or pretending to write over those two days. Or the next two days it took to recover from the exhaustion. What I did do was finally admit to myself that I shouldn’t be writing in the month of February. And since it took me half the month to figure that out, I might not write until halfway through March either.

And that’s okay. I’m still a writer with a completed draft of a novel I love. And I have a plan for completing it. I just need the patience to wait until the right time. In that case, I might not have finished a new draft this month, but I did learn some valuable wisdom. Patience is necessary in writing.

Naomi Rowe

Naomi Hawkins-Rowe: My goals for Write By Midnight were four-fold: to regard my writing time as sacred, to take a slow and focused approach to the development of my characters and the story, to focus on the crafting of each sentence rather than word count, and to have a first draft of Chapters 1-7 by Feb.16  to begin revising the second half of the month.

The first two weeks went well. Although I didn’t have a complete first draft of my chapters by Feb 16th like I had hoped, I had mostly succeeded in keeping my mornings dedicated to writing. Even though I have a lot to edit before I submit my chapters to my mentor this month, I did manage to write some scenes I feel proud of and I feel really good about that.

The last two weeks was a sick-factory at my house, which began with my son and ended with me getting a cold which morphed into a more serious upper respiratory thing. However, in my more lucid moments this past week, I spent time making notes and writing freehand in my journal. This time, when I was too sick to get out of bed, gave me an opportunity to really think through the direction of my story thus far. I came up with some changes that I believe will make these first chapters stronger and my protagonist more interesting.

While I’m bummed to have missed our writing retreat, I feel WBM ended up being very fruitful for me.

Stacey Kite

Stacey Kite: This year’s WBM challenge was a struggle for me, which is a mealy-mouthed way of saying I did not reach any of my goals. I have plenty of excuses: we had a small machine uprising at the beginning of the month, we’re in the middle of planning a cross-country move and I’ve been sick. But the truth is I’m simply at a point in my book where things have gotten tough.

Normally, I like to write in chronological order, but over the last year, whenever I got stuck on a scene for too long, I skipped ahead and moved on to a scene that I could really feel. That left gaps in my story, so my plan for this year’s WBM challenge was to write all those missing scenes. As it turned out, though, there were more voids in my plot than I’d originally thought—in some cases, giant, cavernous, blackhole kinds of voids.

When I realized the scope of the problem, I shifted my goal to just plotting those sections, but that did not go as planned. The reason I’d struggled with those particular scenes in the first place was either the characters’ motivations in them were on the limp side, or the causal links from one scene to the next were amorphous and coincidental. Beating my head against the problem areas and talking through them with my writing buddies gave me directions and ideas, but my progress in February was dismal. I never once got that key-in-the-lock feel for anything I worked on.

But I’ve decided I’m okay with that. I know that the right solutions will come in time. I just need to push hard for a while, then back off, then push again. Rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat.

Missing a goal is a setback, but it’s not failure. It’s only failure when you give up.

Now that you’ve heard how we fared this month, please share your WBM experience with us by tweeting @writeowls or commenting below. Then, tune in for our monthly Write by Midnight Pep Talks for tips to stay the course until February rolls around in 2021.

 

Get Ready to Write – It’s Write by Midnight!

It’s Feb. 1 and that can only mean one thing – Write by Midnight! Every year, we invite all of you to spend the month of February working on your individual writing goals with the common goal of writing every day – by midnight. We’ll be posting and tweeting daily content to keep you motivated.
This year, we’re adding an extra element to keep it interesting. Play along with Write by Midnight Bingo. Each day, we’ll prompt you with a writing challenge tied to a square on the Bingo card. Click here for more information about how to play.
Each of the WriteOwls will also be tweeting their goals and progress throughout the duration of the write-a-thon. Please comment here or tweet #WriteByMidnight2020 and tag us @WriteOwls to share your accomplishments, as well.
By the end of the month, we hope you’ll have established some good habits to fuel your writing well beyond Feb. 29. So get to it. Enjoy the creative process. We can’t wait to see what you have to share with the world when you’re done.

 

 

Write by Midnight Pep Talk 1-27-20

Write by Midnight 2020 starts Saturday! Last week, you set your goals for the month. This week, it’s time to get organized and fired up about writing. To chart your success throughout February, be sure to download our printable writing log here or use any progress-tracking app of your choosing.

New this year, we’re introducing a fun twist  – Write by Midnight Bingo – with a book give-away at the end.

Here’s how it works:

1. Follow @WriteOwls on Twitter and subscribe to this blog (on the right side of your screen) for a daily shot of Write by Midnight tips and encouragement.

2. Download your Write By Midnight Bingo card here. It’s filled with prompts to inspire you to stay on track during the write-a-thon. When you complete a prompt, mark that spot on your card. You can do them in any order you choose. However, if you need a push to stay the course, we’ll have three ways for you to receive a prompt from the card each day: Twitter, the WriteOwls blog, or by subscribing to our blog to get a prompt emailed to your inbox.

3. When you complete five spaces in a full row (diagonal counts), tweet a picture of your card to @WriteOwls and you’ll be entered into a drawing for a chance to receive a copy of a writing craft book we will reveal later in the month. Be sure to include #WriteByMidnight2020 with each tweet to be eligible. You can be entered up to 12 times if you complete the entire card. That’s 12 chances to win a book each of the Write Owls find full of practical and inspiring advice about writing for young readers.

4. All entries will be due by midnight EST on Saturday, Feb. 29. One winner will be drawn from all eligible entries and announced here and via Twitter on Monday, March 9.

We hope this year’s Write by Midnight challenge will help you re-energize your daily writing habits, and we look forward to hearing from you throughout 2020 as you keep reaching your goals.

Practical Prompts 1-20-20

Write By Midnight 2020 starts in 12 days! Start thinking about what you’d like to accomplish during this year’s write-a-thon. Write those goals down and post them where you can see them every day. Then, share your goals for this year’s challenge by tagging us on Twitter @WriteOwls and include #WriteByMidnight2020.

Insomniacs Anonymous 01-13-20

Every February, the Write Owls host a month-long write-a-thon where we challenge ourselves and our readers to write every day by midnight.

If you’ve ever participated in Write By Midnight or any other writing challenges, what exercises kept you engaged and kept you writing?

Be sure to tag us @WriteOwls and include #WriteByMidnight2020 with your response. We’ll do our best to incorporate your suggestions in this year’s daily prompts.