(Honestly, I built SP’s prize in to my budget the day after I agreed to this challenge. SP is very competitive— the challenge itself got her moving. I, on the other hand, am deadline-driven. I dragged myself along in the early stages of the contest— mainly so I didn’t look like a slacker to the world-at-large— but once SP crossed that 90% threshold, I suddenly realized there was a deadline, and that, more than anything, kicked my butt into gear.)
I doubt I’m the only unpublished writer who struggles when it comes to producing pages. It’s tough to pour your heart and soul into something, knowing the odds are it will be returned to you with a “No Thanks.” Yes, we all understand on a rational level that we can’t sell a book we haven’t written, but investing that much of ourselves into something where there’s only the slimmest of chances it will amount to anything... Well, if that doesn’t teeter on the edge of soul-destroying, I don’t know what does.
In fact, I know I’m not alone. If I were, no one would be Sweating With Sven right now or gearing up for National Novel Writing Month. These challenges (much like our Playground one) have some accountability built in. It’s not a contract with a paycheck attached, but at least there’s a deadline and people expecting on you to get there.
Having that meter on the page and knowing folks (or at least the Playfriends) were eyeballing my progress forced me to slog through those sections where getting the words out made pulling teeth sound like great fun. There are about 40 pages in the middle of the book where I’d write a paragraph, delete the paragraph, stare at the page for a while, write a sentence, delete the sentence... The only way out, sadly, was through. (Especially for someone like me who can’t write scenes out of order.) Once I got through that section though, the words came easier. Without SP shaming me into action, though, I’d still be avoiding that section of the book.
I was reminded of something very important during this challenge, though, that I’d like to share with y’all: Never confuse feeling productive with actually being productive. Oh, I wrote a lot during this writing challenge-- blog entries, chapter bylaws, newsletter articles, resumes, letters to the parents in AC’s class... I’d feel so productive on those days, and I’d reward myself with an evening in front of the TV or with a good book. At the end of the day, though, I’d have little or nothing to post on the meter. I felt productive, but it didn’t take long to realize how false that feeling was. Maybe you play this game with yourself in other ways like cleaning house, planting pansies, or organizing your sock drawer. At the end of the day, you feel like you’ve been very productive, but wait— there’s no pages to post on the meter.
I’d recommend to anyone practicing WIP avoidance techniques to take on a challenge. Sweat with Sven. NaNoWriMo your heart out. Join one of those Survivor-style writing loops. Or just find a friend and up the stakes. Create a goal, a deadline, and some kind of accountability plan, and maybe you’ll find your way out of that rut.
Thanks to SP, I’m on pace to get this WIP finished, polished and off to the Golden Heart contest (which I already paid for— see, I created a deadline for myself). Kicking me out of my rut is well worth the cost of a mani-pedi.
I’m not Sven, and I certainly don’t sweat if I can possibly help it, but let’s talk about goals today. What would you like to accomplish between now and December 1?