December Writing Challenge 2020: Ready, Set, Write!

Welcome to the December Writing Challenge! I posted the rules for the challenge on the blog yesterday. You can remember them pretty easily, as they boil down to “write at least a little bit every day this month.” I include some ways to make that easier on yourself, but in general, the goal is to keep your writing momentum going.

Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

Most writers have resolutions or goals regarding their careers. When a new year rolls around, they brush off those goals and dive in. But if you spend December NOT writing, because you’re busy with holidays and year-end distractions, writing becomes more difficult.

Your brain needs training, like every other muscle. If you don’t use it for a particular task for a while, it won’t forget how to do it, but it will get a little bit lazy about it. The December Writing Challenge forces you to flex that muscle, even if just for half-an-hour, each day so you’re ready to get back to business in January.

Now, we all know 2020 has been a very rough year. It’s played hard and fast with many people’s ability to focus, to be creative, and that hasn’t magically become better because there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. By all means, be kind to yourself. But take this opportunity to try and get your writer’s brain back on track. Make a small effort each day. They add up.

I will be posting prompts and ideas and encouragement here on the blog all month long. You will also find me cheerleading over on Twitter @NepheleTempest, under #DecWritingChallenge. In the meantime, I’ve a few tips to get you going.

Challenge Tips:

  • Schedule your writing time. Look through your calendar and make a few writing appointments, with reminders and everything.
  • Tell your friends and family what you’re doing. Make it clear your writing time is sacred and you need to take those minutes for yourself.
  • Find a writing buddy to hold you accountable. I mentioned this yesterday and I can’t stress how helpful it can be. If you do the challenge together, you can check in and give each other a mental boost on days when it’s more difficult.
  • Make your writing time an occasion. Fix a cup of coffee or tea, light a candle, grab a couple of delicious cookies. If you like writing to music, put on your favorite playlist. Treat yourself to your ideal writing conditions as often as possible.
  • Try a different medium. If you’re having trouble writing, try pen and ink if you normally use a computer, or pull out an old typewriter from your attic and put it to work.
  • Play in someone else’s sandbox. If you’re feeling blocked on your own project, try your hand at fanfiction for your favorite book, film, or TV show.

I hope these give you some inspiration to get started. You deserve the time to write, to create, to reach for your dreams. If you have an existing writing habit, good for you. I hope this motivates you to keep going. If you’re thinking about writing, start. Today. Right now. Go write. I challenge you.

December Writing Challenge: Check In #2

It’s the middle of the month, writers! How go your efforts to write every day? Are you managing to get in some time regardless of your schedule? Are the words continuing to accumulate between work and shopping and plotting festive dinners? Perhaps you find yourself sneaking the time. Jotting longhand in a notebook in the waiting room at the dentist, or waiting to pick up your kids from school.

No matter. The effort is what counts here. What I most want for you this month is to force your brain to show up at the party; make yourself write every day so that your mind understands what you expect of it. Ultimately, you may not be the type of writer who writes every single day once December is over, but you will see (and so will your subconscious or your muse or whatever you want to call that creative inner part of you) that writing is truly a habit, and your mind is a muscle, and training it all to work on command is a matter of repetition. If you only write when inspiration strikes, you’re not going to write on a regular basis, and while that can be a fun approach if you only write for your own enjoyment, it won’t get you far if you’re intent on writing for publication.

So keep at it! If you’ve missed a few days, don’t worry about it, just get right back in there and recommit to writing every day. Each morning, think of where your writing time will fit. Plan for it. Make it happen. If it’s important to you, it deserves a space in your schedule. And don’t feel you absolutely must work on the same project each day. I don’t recommend starting something new whenever you get a little stuck, but it can also be a good idea to have one or two back-burner projects that you can play with when your primary project gives you serious trouble. Just keep writing.

And for those of you working on secret projects, you keep writing, too! Play! Enjoy yourselves! Let your creative wings stretch a little wider, fly a little farther afield. Writing is hard work, but it should also be fun, so use your mystery project to remind yourself of all the things you love about your craft.

Get to it, writers! Wishing you a wonderful, productive week.