Not so long ago I’ve explained how NaNoWriMo, although great initiative, wasn’t really working for me and how I’d be more eager to participate in something to build up the writing habit instead of speeding into a book within a month. And there it came, the opportunity to challenge myself, commit to writing and make friends with a group of people who do the same: the 365k Club.
The idea, originating from Jane Steen, was brought to life by Katherine Grubb and Jessica White from 10 Minute Novelist group. They invited fellow writers, professional and not, to partake in the challenge of writing 365,ooo words in a year, which meant to produce on average 1000 words every day. I thought I’m not capable of meeting such a goal. I thought that life will surely interfere preventing me from even trying. And I thought that a hopeless plotter such as me won’t be able to plot quick enough to meet the daily word count.
And with all these thoughts… I signed up.
In the end, 365k Club is not about rushing to finish a novel as soon as possible, it’s not even about finishing a novel within a year. It’s about writing every day: as long as it’s creative and it produces new words, it counts (yes, this post will count, though its Polish translation won’t). It’s also about keeping it going for a year, with just occasional hiccups and I think it’s much harder to write daily for a year (even less than 1000 words) than it is to carve out a month of your life to write like crazy.
How it’s been for me so far? I started January cautiously, with my writing goal around 500 words a day with a reasonable approach of the beginning of the year being always a bit messy. But first of all I had to try to incorporate some writing time into my daily routine. It’s not easy to do with a full-time job that requires staring at a screen and text for a whole day, as I need time to relax and let my eyes rest when I come back home. Daily household chores and preparing dinner take care of the latter, but the first one does require me sitting down and doing something that doesn’t involve my brain too much.
In the end, when I wrote my 500 words a day, if didn’t feel right to not to try to push it a bit and reach the real goal. In the process I learned that I need to have at least 1.5-2 hours to get to 1000 words written and I started scheduling the time according to that. I picked a novel idea that I’ve been plotting for quite a while now in hope that I’ll save some time spent on picturing the scenes. It worked quite well: each day, when I was starting to write, I knew what I want to write and how I’ll describe it. But there were slower days too, when the scenes needed a lot of thinking. And there were moments when the words just didn’t want to come. If I had time, I took it slow, but on a weekday, when the bedtime and another working day were closing up on me, I switched to another scene or project and kept writing to meet the goal.
So, did it work? After a month in the 365k Club I think it does work. I’ve definitely been writing more and I didn’t miss a single day so far, always hitting the 1000 words mark. When the time allowed, I even wrote more than that, and in total I wrote 41891 words in January, which is probably a lot more than I wrote in any other month for the last 15 years or so. I also met some great people in my team, as all 365k Club participants have been assigned to one (for friendly competition between the teams and encouragement within them).
But there are downsides too. Due so much time consumed by writing there are not enough hours in a day and I noticed I read much less. I also haven’t been editing my texts at all in January, since editing doesn’t count. And I tend to focus on the things I’m excited to write, and not the ones that have a deadline creeping close.
And 365k Club had barely started. I might give myself a pat on the back for being so good in January, but there are still eleven more months to go. The real challenge is still out there: to make it to the end of 2015 with as little missed days as possible (because there will be days missed, of that I’m sure). To keep up with the routine even if I happen to drop out for a couple of days. To build up that writing routine regardless of life random encounters. To find time for other activities in the writing madness.
It’s going to be challenging, but I’m looking forward to it.
And if the moments of doubts come, I have to nice badges to look at to keep me going and to remind me of the rewards that wait for me at the end of the year: a start of a possibly life-long habit, a great amount of satisfaction and… even greater amount of words I’ll have to edit.
This post is a part of “A Month of Writing” series, feel free to browse through other related posts.
Joanna Maciejewska is a fantasy and science fiction author who enjoys all things SFF: books, movies, and video games.
Her short stories appeared in magazines and anthologies in Polish and in English.
Her epic fantasy adventure series, starting with By the Pact, is available in ebook and paperback at all major retailers.