Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Misery Loves Company

I don't really love to write. Some people swear they would curl up and die if they didn't write every day. I'm not one of them. I have to find ways to get it done, whether it's a blog post, an article for the newspaper, or a chapter in a book. I do it because I have something to say that I think needs to be shared, and sometimes the written word is the fastest way to get from my brain to yours.

One of the teams that helps me put fingers to keyboard is an online group called Book-in-a-Week. This group has existed for over ten years, and I've been a member for nearly seven. The site has been listed on Writers Digest's 101 Best Websites for Writers more than once. Here's how it works:

At the end of every month, Maureen Wood (fondly known as Moe) sends us an email to let us know sign-up can begin for that month's session which usually occurs the first week of every month. We then submit our page goal for that round. After all the goals are submitted, we are assigned a number, and then must report our daily writing online. Moe keeps track of our results on a chart that we all can access. Three check-ins are required and throughout the week, prompts and encouragements are offered to keep us writing.

By the end of the seven days, the page count for the entire group of around 100 writers is quite impressive. Some members can easily write 100 or more pages in that one week. Nothing fancy, you understand, because this is all about spurting out new words, not finishing the final product. I've written thousands of pages over the years, and some of them have even been polished into submittable works. Not many, but some. Most are simply rejected, because they aren't good for much more than an exercise in writing. The point is, regular writing for one solid week, month after month, results in a lot of words on paper, a lot of practice. Without an online team like this to suffer along with me, I would never have written nearly as much. Therein lies the power of a good team.

I've also made some good friends through Book-in-a-Week. Ann Parker, author of the Silver Rush Mysteries set in 1880 Leadville, is a long-time member of BIW. A young neighbor where I live just visited BIW member, Carolyn Ann Aish in New Zealand, where this prolific writer has her own publishing company. Elle Neal who is one of the bloggers here at the BRP.  Moe, of course, who month-after-month keeps score for us as we mix our metaphors, pour on the adjectives to reach our daily word count, and pile on the crap with reckless abandon. Thank you, Moe. It's a blessing none of us has to read the weekly output. Our job and motto is BIK HOK TAM: Butt in chair. Hands on keyboard. Typing away madly.

And that's what we do. Nobody said it had to be good or make sense. This is just round one, after all. Join Book-in-a-Week if you need a little group support to get you motivated. Go here for more information about how it works.

What about you? Do you belong to any online writing groups? Do you feel it helps your output? How many pages do you write each month, and how do you accomplish it?
Dani Greer is founding member of the Blood-Red Pencil, teaches blog book tours classes for authors, and is special projects coordinator for Little Pickle Press. She also critiques and edits cozy mysteries for other authors. Her goal is to spend a wee bit less time helping other people and more hours writing and promoting her own books.

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  1. I'm in awe that you've kept up with the writing all these years, Dani. I don't think I could do it. I would probably poop out after a few months or would fall so far behind on my other work that I'd have to drop out. But my hat's off to you, for sure!

  2. Thanks, Dani. I'm checking out the link - this could be just what's needed.

  3. Sounds like a great way to stay motivated. I have not belonged to a group in a long time, but I remember that it was always great incentive to have to bring new pages to a critique group every Friday.

    I don't have trouble writing everyday, what I need is to be more focused and organized. My husband swears I am beyond hope on that score. LOL

  4. The thing I really like about BIW is that there isn't much time spent on chatter. Everyone is truly on-task, but the power of publicly stating goals and knowing everyone is checking out how well you've done to meet the goals... well, a little subtle peer pressure never hurts, does it?

  5. I have just joined a face-to-face writer's group. We meet bi-weekly and have to submit our work every few meetings. I'm still procrastinating...but I get to the point when it is my time to submit and I can't procrastinate any more.

  6. Sounds like a good group to find. Often we need the push and perhaps even competition to force ourselves to write. Newspaper deadlines used to do that for me.

    That's an amazing amount of writing you've done. I'll check out your link.


  7. About 95% of it really bad writing, Monti. Hopefully the remaining 5% will become something brilliant! :D

  8. Someday I might give that a try, but I'm such a "fix as you go" writer that I'm afraid I'd be spending more time fixing 100+ pages rather than dealing with 4-5 at a time, which is how I work. When I'm done, I'm much closer to actually being done.

    But when I get stuck, I need to remember to forge ahead, because you can't fix a blank page.

    Terry's Place
    Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

  9. My goal is to crap it out every month for one week with BIW - then spend three weeks fixing. So far, the revising part doesn't happen often enough, and I haven't found a good online support group for that. Does anyone know if there is one?

  10. Somewhere I got out of the habit of writing manuscripts and got into the habit of online writing.

    I'm forcing myself not to give in to cravings to participate more online at times when it takes me away from finishing my manuscripts.

    I try to strike a balance, but it's not easy.

    Morgan Mandel

  11. You introduced me to BIW, Dani, where I then met Moe, who introduced me to BellaOnline, where I was discovered by Publications International who commissioned brainteaser puzzles from me. All in all a very successful relationship

    Terry, I'm exactly the same. I struggle to get 10 pages done in a week because each sentence I write has to be highly polished. I'm in awe of people who can just churn out 100 pages like that.

    HearWriteNow & Blood-Red Pencil

  12. Elle, do you still visit Writers Weekly? I can't get signed in over there, but I enjoyed that forum for brainstorming, too.

  13. I did BIW for the first time last month. I set the minimum goal and really needed more of a challenge that that. For July I'm doing Camp NaNoWriMo, but I'll be back to BIW for August, Sept. and October. ALSO someone said they are an edit-as-they-go writer - I am too. I do small edits as I type and make notes for bigger edits that I only allow myself to do after reaching my word goal for the day (or on a 'non-writing' day).

  14. Dani, I'm like you--I need motivation and deadlines to BIK HOK TAM! This group sounds like an excellent motivator. Thanks.

  15. I like BIW beacuse I know at least one week a month I will sit down and write every day, which helps me balance the rest of the month when I can take a non-writing day without feeling guilty.
    And of course the subtle peer pressure helps me get to my goal every month!

  16. Hi Dani, Great post. You mirror my sentiments about BIW. I love this group and love how Moe, our fearless leader, runs it. I have BIW to thank for the "heart" writing I've done these past years. I write for a living but my own writing, what I call my "heart" writing, gets pushed aside and never gets done. So I use BIW to write my novel one word at a time, one week at a time, BIW after BIW and that's how it's getting done. :-)

  17. I'm a member of BIW myself, and I agree with you that it's a great group to belong to if you need some motivation. Every month, I know that for at least one week, I'll have to put other tasks on the back burner in order to bic-hok-tam :)



The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.


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