What Makes me Get off my Tuchus and Write?
I’m working on the second book in my Willow Creek Amish Kittens series, Mary’s Calico Hope, and I’m pleased with my progress. I like the people in my story – even those who might be hard to like in ‘real life’. After all, they serve the purpose of moving my plot, so how can I help but like them?
It’s not always easy to sit down and write, though I attempt to hold myself to something of a schedule. I try to write at least something every day…but I’m firm about getting in a good three days a week. What’s made this fairly easy for me is something my writing group does.
They call it Sprints, and they do it three nights a week. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday night from 7 – 9 p.m. anyone who likes can check in to the group’s Facebook page and join the sprints, which are generally led by one of the group’s officers, although we’ve all taken turns leading from time to time.
You boot up your computer, open your document, find the place you want to write or edit, and when 7:05 hits, off you go on a 20 minute sprint, trying to write as much as you can in that time. At 7:25 there is a 10 minute break, and most people check back into the Facebook page and comment on how many words they wrote in that sprint, or problems they’re having with plotting, editing, etc. The members give each other helpful advice, or maybe just a sympathetic ear. At 7:35 the second sprint begins, ending at 7:55. From 8:05 until 8:25 the third sprint goes on, and the final sprint takes place from 8:35 until 8:55.
I can churn out a couple thousand words in two hours, and I confess that if I’m on a roll, I don’t stop for the 10 minute breaks. You can do one sprint, or all four, joining in whenever is convenient.
There is also a document available through the group’s website called the Magic Spreadsheet, which allows members to keep track of how many words they write each day in a particular WIP. The person who writes the most each month wins bragging rights, and if they attend the monthly meeting in person, they get to take possession of the coveted stuffed Emu for a month.
I’m pretty competitive, and this stuff motivates me. During Covid, when there was little to distract me, I churned out two complete novels by sprinting three times a week and competing for the highest word count. I won a couple times, too – though since we weren’t meeting in person, possession of the Emu remains an unfulfilled dream for me.
I took a break from sprinting during my querying period, but now that I’ve found a wonderful agent and publishing my first Amish novel, “Ruth’s Ginger Snap”, looks like a real possibility, I’m back at it, writing hard with a self-imposed goal of having a first draft done by Memorial Day.
I’ve found that if I sit my tuchus down at my computer and start banging out words, ideas soon follow. Sometimes they’re terrible ideas, and I end up deleting whole scenes. But sometimes they work out very well, and I feel buoyed up by my accomplishment, small as it may be.
Writing is like a job – currently one I’m doing for free, admittedly! You have to show up to work and WORK if you want to get anything done.
The fact that I work as a newspaper writer and editor all day every day can lessen my thrill in sitting down again to write at night – but I just remind myself that the thrill will be very real should I publish, and especially should I get paid for all this hard work.
That is my ultimate goal; and it’s looking as if it may be attainable.
So Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it’s off to write I go!