Tuesday, August 07, 2007

A Friendly Competition (with a side of Shame and Greed)

Every now and then, you’ll hear us talk about “writing challenges” here on the blog. You challenge yourself to write X number of pages in X amount of time. Usually it’s a daily page total. You let the others know your goal and check in with your progress. A great idea, right?

Well, there are two flaws to the average writing challenge:

1) If you don’t make your goal for the day, there’s no real penalty.

2.) The pages don’t have to be any good. You can write garbage and still get credit for meeting your page goal.

So, while they're a good idea, the shame factor is relatively low and you're not really competing against anyone but yourself.

Smarty Pants and I are obviously having some motivation problems. WIP issues we don’t know how to fix, life issues that need to be dealt with, and confidence issues of feeling we suck have all worked together to stall out our manuscripts. Something must be done or else these books will languish forever.

Saturday night, we hit on something that should kick our butts in to gear. A competition. Well, more than a competition or a writing challenge. More like a bet. A down and dirty bet.

We have the same goal—140 pages. (That’s not an arbitrary number—we have reasons for that page count). However, they must be 140 GOOD pages. Not pages of “blah, blah, blah, I’ll fix that later.” Not pages of crap that must be massively edited to be presentable. The goal is 140 pages of good, “ready-for-prime-time” stuff. That may mean rewriting. That may mean going back to page 13 to change something and having to deal with the ripple effect though all the pages that follow. (Critique Partners, brace yourselves.) We’re going for Quality as well as Quantity.

There’s no set time limit, other than First One to 140 Wins. But it is a race. No dawdling and fiddling around.

And there will be a prize. In addition to gaining bragging rights and avoiding public shame, we decided there needs to be a tangible prize. Something we want. Something we wouldn’t want to lose. Shame and competitiveness will only go so far. We’re going for the baser motivations like greed as well.

That’s where we’re stuck. We need y’all to help us come up with a prize. Remember, it needs to be tangible and it needs to be good. We’re avoiding cold hard cash or really expensive things (partly because I’m a kept woman these days and feel bad about betting too much money I don’t actually earn). Manual labor can be involved—the painting of each other’s offices did come up in negotiations. We’re not into public humiliation beyond having to admit on the blog that we lost. Nudity is also out. Y’all know us pretty well by now; what do you think a good prize would be? What would you want if you were in our shoes?

Give us your ideas for the Grand Prize (If it’s what we chose—or leads us to the final choice, I’ll send you an awesome prize pack of your own.)

The start date has been set for August 13, so we have less than a week to come up with final terms. Help us out, then be ready for a ring-side seat as PC and SP go keyboard to keyboard in a no-holds-barred race to 140.

Knowing us, this should be interesting...


PS: Our first MOANday winner is Ellie! Email Angel for your prize.

PPS: In a late-breaking addition, erotica writer Colette Gale will be here tomorrow!


Nini said...

What about:

A week of home cooked meals
Dinner and theater

It's late and that's all i can think of... I'm heading to bed. However, and it's a biggie for me, i wanted to share that i've finished a novella for a contest on a different board. It's the very first time i've finished a wip that states "The End"....i have two other wips that are partially done. I'me very easily distracted.

So....i've reached a goal i set for myself. I'm so excited. I figure if i can reach one goal, i can reach another. Right?

So.....kudos to you both. It'll be fun watching.

Nini :)

Playground Monitor said...

The home cooked meals sound good as long as you're on the receiving end. :grin:

The mani/pedi sounds awesome! That's always a treat for me and isn't all that expensive.

Since we all love to read, perhaps a gift card from the book store? Or how about a gift card from an office supply store for the things we need to write -- pens, paper, journals, ink cartridges, etcetera.

Congrats, Nini, on typing "The End!" That's awesome.


Instigator said...

Oooh, office supplies. That's a good one. Only we could get giddy at an Office Depot shopping spree :-)

I was present at the hatching of this idea so I think I'm going to sit back and see what everyone else comes up with (I'll try to be creative a little later this morning. It's too early at the moment).

Congratulations, Nini!! That's a really wonderful and important step.


Maven LJ said...

The loser cleans the winner's house. Or kitchen. Maid for a day. That would motivate me, since I don't even like to clean my own house. :-) That or assistant for a day -- organize the other's files, get paperwork in order. Either way, there's no money involved, but there IS motivation.

This is fine for getting a kick start, but I have to encourage you not to make a habit of it. It doesn't take any two writers the same amount of time to write 140 good pages. Or 30, or 200. In the end you have to respect your own method of working and make it work for you. I might write 25 pages on day and 5 the next, but as long as it's working, that's fine. I couldn't possibly write finished pages straight through. I always fly through the first draft and then go back and fix. That's just the way I work.

My 2 cents. :-)


Maven Linda said...

Um . . . just a thought: Have either of you considered the possibility that you're having problems with your respective WIPs because neither of them are ready to be written? Some ideas have to incubate longer than others do. Maybe what you really want to do is ditch both stories (or at least put them aside for a while) and work on something else. Maybe you don't want to work at all. PC, you have surgery coming up. You're in pain, you're stressed. SP, in a very short length of time you've built a house, sold a house, moved TWICE, gone to Scotland, gone to Dallas -- and you're still trying to get your new house arranged and decorated. Has it occurred to either of you to CHILL? Sometimes life has to take precedence. Sometimes you have to take care of yourself, of other things, and give yourself permission not to write.

I know whereof I speak. I'm Miss Forty-Million Irons in the Fire herself. And it damned near killed me. I gave myself the summer off from writing, not only to give my brain a rest but because there are so many other things going on that I simply can't do everything. Even when I want to write, I don't let myself. And it feels great.

So why don't y'all cut yourselves some slack, take care of life first, then have your competition AFTER all of this has been dealt with? AFTER surgery, AFTER the house is in order, AFTER you've both rested.


Rhonda said...

I second Maven Linda's advice. (Butif you insist on keeping the bet, then Maven LJ's maid-for-a-day would motivate the crap out of me. :-)

MaryKate said...

Huh. I'm not even a writer, and I think maven Linda's advice is good.

But I also think the Maid for a Day is an excellent prize.

Good luck, ladies, whatever you decide.

Nini said...

I love the idea of someone cleaning, except....i would need to clean before they arrived. I hate doing that stuff...now cooking....I would prefer cooking for hundreds of people, if and only if, i didn't have to clean up afterwards.

Nini :)

Smarty Pants said...

I knew the Mavens would get onto us for this. :) And I know - we have a lot going on (perhaps we should wait until after your surgery PC - wouldn't want an unfair advantage). The problem is this - these stories have requests. They aren't just our latest projects. They have publishing professionals waiting on them. We need a little motivation to overcome the fear.

I also have problems with book completion. I like to stop in the middle and do something else. I have to finish this one. Have to. Have to.

Not sure it would be fair to make PC clean my house if I won. I've got animals and half unpacked boxes and DB...messy. Not fit for someone else. There's some good ideas out there, though...

Pat L. said...

Nini's suggestions were great.
How about a weekend trip if that is
not too expensive.

Or dinner and theatre. 2nd Nini.

Having house cleaned for a month.

Shopping spree to favorite store, even if not a bookstore. LOL.

Jen said...

I'm going to suggest you start your competition a month from now or whenever PC has had sufficient recovery time. SP, you have one month to get your boxes/house in order. PC, you have recovery time. That also gives you incubation time. I agree with the Mavens -- a book has to be written in its own time and you've both had LOTS going on. I always need percolation time.

Also, wanted to share with both of you that there was a time lapse of 1 1/2 years between the time I got a phone call from an editor telling me she couldn't wait to read the rest of my manuscript until the time I sent it to her. I had a small child and a new business and I wouldn't recommend 1 1/2 year lag time but life happens and...she still bought it after two sets of revisions. A good story will sell and if it's a month later than you thought you wanted to wrap it up...a good story will sell. ;-)

Kathy said...

Go ahead, Joey Laurence. Let's hear it... Whoaaa!

Wow! PC and SP you've sure set yourself up for quite a challenge. I agree with the Mavens, however. Life has a way of barging in and sweeping us away. Just be careful you're not setting yourselves up for disappointment. Pain is a hard thing to write through. Being surrounded by thousands of things that need to be done makes it hard to focus. Perhaps you should rest up a bit, recharge by taking care of you, then dive into the challenge carefree, painfree.

My .02. Otherwise, I know you guys would kick buttinski! And if I had to clean someone else's house, I would surely be up at midnight working to reach my page count. LOL. (Please, no one hold me to this.)

Way to go, Nini!!!!


Maven Linda said...

Yeah, but the Mavens have gone down this road before, SP, so we're talking from experience. The WIPs will be better if you clear the decks of this other stuff first. And we love you, or we wouldn't bitch (Grin).

PS: I really hate it that Blogger won't let us use tags and emoticons. Not only that, the verification word is qfhjydvn. Talk about adding insult to injury . . .

Playground Monitor said...

Next week I'm blogging about il bel far niente -- the beauty of doing nothing.

I think I take Maven Linda's words too seriously because I have 2 novels that have been waiting for 3-4 years to be written.

I write no novel before its time. :grin:


Kimberly L said...

a day at the spa
basket of bath and body products
night out on the town(movie & dinner)
basket of supplies(correction tape, pens, paper, disks, rolodex,calendar, planner and etc.)
basket of their favorite books
cater a party for the winner

Lynn Raye Harris said...

I forget where I read this metaphor, but I once read something that stated your creativity is like a raft. You're out there floating along on a sea of ideas, and as you navigate the story waters, your raft gets tossed about. Sometimes it's smooth sailing, other times it's a tempest. Your raft will begin to fall apart. You must take time to replenish the raft.

Life and your experience is what the raft is built from. If you launch into those waters unrested, or in pain, or distracted, the raft will fall apart sooner than it should and leave you floundering. Sounds a little silly, maybe, but I've found it to have some truth.

When I've been at my most empty, and tried to force the writing, I suffer even more for it. You (and all of us) have just received the wisdom of two very succesful and talented ladies who navigate these waters all the time. I don't think you can find better advice. As Maven LJ said, you have to find your own process. Maybe a challenge will jumpstart the process and work for you both, though I agree you should wait til post-op.

I also think you are too hard on yourselves. 140 good pages? Perfectly wonderful, ready to submit, pages? That is an amazing goal. I also think it has the potential to cause a lot of angst. Remember that even beautiful writing can need revision. One of my favorite quotes is from Thomas Wolfe:

What I had to face, the very bitter lesson that everyone who wants to write has got to learn, was that a thing may in itself be the finest piece of writing one has ever done, and yet have absolutely no place in the manuscript one hopes to publish.

I try to remember this every time I fall in love with one of my paragraphs. :)

Good luck to you both, but I hope you will reconsider the need for good pages on a first draft. Writing is rewriting. :)

I'm for the mani/pedi thing. The maid for a day is too horrible to contemplate, LOL. :)

Nini, congratulations on finishing your novella! It's a great feeling to finish something that first time. :)

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

Problem Child, I'm checking in to say THANK YOU!!! HIDDEN OBSESSION arrived in my mailbox yesterday. :D I know I'll love the BLAZE read. :D

How about a writer's thesaurus as a prize for your challenge?

Hugs, JJ

Stacy S said...

I would say the winner gets home cooked meals for a week. Good luck guys.

catslady said...

It's getting hard since a lot of good ideas have already been mentioned lol. How about washing windows. Don't know if either of you could use babysitting services or pet sitting services. Or maybe being a chauffer for a day or a list of pick up duties: dry cleaning, groceries, take-out, etc. Wash and clean your car inside and out. Weed the garden. Clean out the refrigerator(last time I did that it took me 6 hours). Good luck.

Kimberly L said...

how about one of those laptop holders that you place your laptop on while you're laying down or sitting on the couch.

Kimberly L said...

Hey I thought of a few more. I hope it's okay to post more than once.
Postage and envelopes
manuscript boxes
ink cartridges or printer