Saturday, July 9, 2016

Making Writing A Habit I Can't Kick -- A Blog Challenge

In my infinite wisdom (and at the suggestion of my sister), I mentioned starting a blog challenge with a friend of mine, Claire J. Monroe. Claire, wicked evil bitch...brilliant scientist and writer that she is started asking all kinds of questions about the purpose of the challenge, the nature of it, the punishments and rewards for it. (Note to self: never discuss with Claire setting something up that even remotely hints at being an experiment! :/ )

If you haven't noticed, I have avoided posting anything to my blog for over six months. I've avoided writing anything for even longer than that. A nasty case of writer's block has plagued me for nearly five years now. Yes, I was able to squeeze out two stories (a novella and a short story) but nothing else (and that was in 2013-2014). I've tried writing the next book in the Diablo Blanco Club series, Rogue Master, since 2011, yet every version gets tossed on the rubbish pile.

Before, my life used to be all about writing. Writing every day. Writing every spare moment I could eek out. Writing to get rid of my frustrations and anxiety associated with my day job. Writing to simply enjoy the stories my characters told me. Writing for the pure joy of writing. And then it stopped. Dried up like a wash in Las Vegas in the middle of August - all cracked and brittle, arid and dusty.

Which brings me to the blog challenge. Claire and I both have avoided making writing a habit again. Making writing a habit that we can't kick - can't stop - can't avoid. Of course, being the scientist she is, and the obsessive I am, she asked about rewards and punishments if we met or didn't meet our goals. Then there were the goals. As well as the criteria for determining that we were both meeting our goals.

And this is what we came up with:
For the next 8 (yes EIGHT ) weeks, both of us have to write for a minimum of 20 minutes every day. Each writing day we need to produce no less than 500 words or 2 pages of new manuscript on any WIP (Work In Progress).

Why 8 weeks? Because research shows it takes a minimum of 8 weeks to develop a healthy habit.

Where does the blog come in? Well, that's part of our reporting system. Both of us have to answer a set of questions that allow us to reflect on the time we spent writing, what we wrote, and our reactions to what we wrote, and post those questions and answers to our blogs.

Where do the rewards and punishments come in? If we stick to our challenge and make our goals each day for a week, we receive a reward specific to what internal motivator drives us. By that same token, if we fail to meet the challenge, we suffer the consequence of not achieving our reward and it resets the challenge "clock" back to zero, meaning the entire 8 weeks starts all over again.

What are the rewards/punishments? Claire and I are very different creatures when it comes to social media. Claire avoids Facebook at all costs - she's very much an introvert. Me, on the other hand, have no problem with Facebook, and I tend to chat with everyone in the various groups I belong to. (Are you starting to get an inkling of what the wicked, evil ... punishment for me is?)

Punishment for Claire is like my reward! Considering Claire's aversion to posting, her punishment is that she must post a line from her day's writing to her FB page. Every day. Yes, every day. Me, I'm not allowed to post at all to FB for the entire week. I must post a line from my writing to my blog, and Twitter (which I rarely use) in order for it to be counted and me to be considered "on-task".

Rewards if we meet our goals for writing? Claire doesn't have to post to FB for one day, and I get to FB for a day!!

Kicker is, if Claire doesn't meet her daily challenge, she has to actually respond to three (3!!) status updates or notifications she receives. If I don't meet my challenge, I have to post twice to my blog on the day of/or following the failed challenge.

And when does this fucking wonderful challenge begin?

Today. Saturday, July 9th, 2016.

Good thing is, I'll get one last hurrah on Facebook before I go off line for the next week.

And for those who are really curious, below are the questions both Claire and I will be answering on our blogs...and which you can chime in on, if you'd like:

1. How much did you (I) write? Word count for the day and how long did it take you?
2. What is the current word count of your (my) Work In Progress (WIP)?
3. How do you (I) feel about what/how you (I) did today in the writing session?
4. Compare/Contrast today's session to yesterdays. Was it easier/harder? Did you (I) enjoy it?
5. What are you (am I) looking forward to in tomorrow's session?

Wish me luck!

Will talk to you later today (hopefully)!


PS-- *added after original post* Feel free to check out Claire's and myTwitter and Facebook posts as the challenge progresses. Below are the links:
Claire J. Monroe Twitter
Claire J. Monroe Facebook
Claire J. Monroe Blog/Webpage
Qwillia Rain Twitter
Qwillia Rain Facebook


  1. Replies
    1. thank you Maggie, I'm hoping this will help me develop a writing discipline.

  2. Okay. I'm in, sis. I'm including my blog as a WIP. It will help me keep my feminist/activist side satisfied. My reward will be checking Facebook. I don't post much, just check up on what others are doing. My punishment can be not listening to any radio shows for that day. Sound good?