It’s Over? Already? Last WFMAD for 2008

Dang, that was fast!

Today is the last day of July, the last day of my Write for Fifteen Minutes A Day challenge. Congratulations to all of you who participated!!!

If you missed the beginning, or you’d like to see all the entries I made about the challenge this month, then the tag function provides a short-cut to them.

If you’ll grant me a moment on the soapbox, I want to explain why my focus is on time spent writing, rather than word counts, like NaNoWriMo.

Don’t get me wrong; I love word counts. I track my own in a first or second draft because it gives me a sense of accomplishment when the characters and story are still primodial slime oozing from page to page.

But I worry that word counts can give writers the wrong impression. Just because you’ve written 50,000 or 100,000 words doesn’t mean you’re done with your novel. It might mean you’ve completed a draft. It’s the quality of the words and the structure of the story and those etheral things like voice and theme that really count. When/if you weave all of those threads into a coherent world, then your story is ready. How long that takes varies dramatically from writer to writer and book to book.

(For those of you who want a score card, it usually takes me seven drafts to write a novel.)

Some days I can hammer out words, crank out page after page after page. Other days, I’ll spend on one scene, sometimes one stretch of dialog. If I were to measure those against each other, it would be easy to see the day in which I wrote fewer pages as a “bad” day. Which is nonsense.

I believe the critical component of writing is the daily commitment to the task. If you touch base with your story every day – even for fifteen minutes – you are mulling it over somewhere in your mind. That’s why I structured WFMAD the way I did.

I’d love a little feedback from those blog readers who participated in WFMAD. What was it like for you?


Today’s goal: Write 15 minutes.

Today’s mindset: proud and relieved.

Today’s prompt: Write about what this month’s challenge did or didn’t do for your writing. Write about what made it hard to carve out fifteen minutes a day. Or was it easier than you thought? Do you want to maintain this habit? If so, what changes do you need to make to your non-summer schedule?


13 Replies to “It’s Over? Already? Last WFMAD for 2008”

  1. Writing for 15 minutes each day reminded me that I only had to write a little each day.

    I kept a word count because I’m extremely goal-oriented, and I’m lazy. Without a daily goal, I tend to write until I reach the hard parts and then stop.

    On days when I didn’t reach the word goals, I shrugged and went on to the next day. No guilt allowed.

    I finished the first draft of the new novel on time thanks to this challenge. I intended to skip today, but around 3AM, I thought of the perfect description for a scene. I finished it before morning coffee.

    This writing thing is addictive.

  2. Writing for 15 minutes every day has made it much easier to do more when the time is available, because I don’t have to go back and figure out where I was the last time I worked on this project.

    I’m now farther along in the project than I had thought I would be when I told myself “I’ll work on X this summer.” Some days it was difficult because there was a lot going on or, in one case, because I felt like utter emotional crap. But sticking with the commitment gave me one less thing to beat myself up over (I’m good at that). It’s kind of like when my daughter was born and I was exhausted and I looked at all the stuff in the house that needed doing and felt completely overwhelmed. But one morning I told myself there were three things I needed to do that day and if I did them, I would be satisfied and if I did more, that was gravy.

    15 minutes writing time = satisfaction.

    I think I can keep doing this more or less indefinitely.

  3. I only caught the tail end of the challenge, but I really enjoyed working with random prompts that didn’t have anything to do with the other projects I’m working on. It was writing more for the fun of it than for the outcome. The stream of conscious writing that came out of it was relaxing.

  4. Absolutely. I swear some days my best “writing” happens in the shower. Word count is one thing, but who can really pinpoint where those words come from?

    — Jill Murray (who will one day remember her LJ login…)

  5. This has been an incredibly busy month for me, and it proved that if I really try to set aside the time to write, I can! I hope to continue this.

  6. WFMAD

    Well- I did it and although it was not always especially on the weekends, I had a great time. I worked on the novel that is brewing in my head and several shorter pieces when I couldn’t continue with the novel. Most of all I think it forced me to get serious. If I want to write then I have to train my brain to think like a writer every day and not just when I can squeeze in some free time. I can’t wait to share some of the stories and poetry that came from this exercise with my classes. Thank you so much for the challenge and daily prompts.

  7. Thank you

    I read about the challenge in Sarah Dessen’s live journal and I wrote every single day this month and it was fantastic. I’ve always been a 5 day a week writer–at least, that was the ultimate goal. Knowing I just had to get in 15 minutes was so freeing. I didn’t have to worry that I had to pick up one of the kids in an hour–I only needed 15 minutes. I managed to squeeze at least 15 minutes even on a mini-vacation, on weekends, on days when the kids had to be driven to this camp and that… One day, it was 7:30 and I hadn’t done the 15 and I was so tired–but I’d done it for 22 days at that point and I wasn’t about to give up. So I broke down and told my husband what I’d been doing and he gathered the boys and took them for a bike ride so I’d have a few solitary minutes. (Nice guy, huh?)

    The most amazing thing I found was that I thought about my writing a lot more than usual. I’d be driving to my TaeKwon Do lesson and I’d think of something and have to jot down notes at stop lights. It was crazy. I just wanted to write more. Instead this monolithic and scary task of having to write for two or three hours, it became something I wanted to do. Many days I wrote more than 15 minutes. But getting those 15 minutes in every day was immensely satisfying.

    I worked on my novel. I finished a rough draft in April and I’ve had trouble figuring out where to go from there. Now I think I’m getting it.

    Thank you for this challenge. It helped.

    Cary in VT

  8. Amen on the word count thing. Some days, I do nothing but edit a single scene; I might add one new sentence and finally figure out what the next scene needs to be. Or I might delete what I wrote the day before, realizing it doesn’t belong. But that’s progress, just as much as the days when I write many new words.

  9. I’d just like to say thank you for this writing challenge. I managed to get in 15 minutes each day, and now the challenge is to continue to do so once the school year starts. As someone who has wanted to write fiction ever since I was a child, but has never taken the time to do so, you’ve helped me move towards achieving a lifelong goal. Thanks so much!

  10. WFMAD

    I’d just like to say thank you for this challenge. I managed to get in my fifteen minutes every day for the month of July, even while I was on vacation. I’m planning to keep it up for the month of August, but it will be harder without the great prompts.

  11. Laurie, WFMAD was a breakthrough for me. Word count pulls up all my fear of writing, all my blank page fever, all my finely honed procrastination skills…it makes me crazy. Or it makes me interrupt myself every ten minutes to check my count. I have some great crit partners, with wonderful discipline. One, who broke into print in 2007, has a high-level computer geek day job, a family and a new puppy, and puts in 1001 words a day, every day, often while eating toast and patting puppy. I can’t do that — I am a solid under-achiever, and the thought of such discipline sends me to bed. WFMAD, however, was made for underachievers!

    WFMAD has become pleasure — and since I sit down for WFMAD only, it doesn’t hurt as much to pull away when I have to. Nor does it hurt to keep on going for 2 hours when words flow and life stays outside my door. I can do it after 10pm. I can do it while waiting for son to eat and get ready for Scouts. And I can do it with a notebook, in a car…in the yard…at my sister’s place for the weekend…

    Anyway, thank you. I have added all your posts to memories so I can call up those great prompts when I need them…THANK YOU.

  12. Didn’t make it here earlier…was too busy writing. 🙂 It’s been an amazingly productive week for me.

    Just wanted to say thank you for setting up this 15 minute challenge. I’m going to keep getting in those 15 minutes on the weekends, just because. 🙂 So thanks for all the writing prompts and encouragement.

  13. i loved wfmad
    mainly what i sought to gain from this was guidance and discussion in writing skills and also to change my writing habits. I tend to start projects and never finish them. I still haven’t conquered that, but with writing every day it focused me to work better. I really enjoyed hearing about how you write, your writing habits and everyday guidance. It was really helpful, i’m fairly young and still working through things as a writer and this was extremely beneficial. I wanted to do this everyday but was on vacation which unfortunately left me with about a week of not writing at all. I would have to say that this is a really good idea and a fantastic expierience.. My favorite prompts were ones that didn’t deal with our goals of the actual wfmad but the other prompts of where we would be if we chose other paths, etc.

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