One of the things I always try to do – but often fail at 😉 – is push myself beyond the limits of my comfort zone. And recently that has meant I have been trying to engage with any writing opportunities that I stumble across.
Since the beginning of July this has manifested itself in three different writing projects, with the three different goals.
Camp NaNo – July 2022
So you may remember how, for once, I was ahead of the planning game for July’s Camp (you can read about that here). You may also remember that things were a little up and down for the first two weeks of the challenge (you can read about that here). Well, I can now confirm that things continued in the same fashion for the rest of the month.
I went for another 10 days without adding a single word to the project, then added just over 1500 words (cumulative) over the next three days, and then nothing else. I ended July with 7466 words added to the project. Half of my goal.
However, I can’t be sad with that. My attempt at April’s camp this year was woeful and along with the new words added to the WIP, I also got a huge amount of world building, back story and planning complete. It’s not the win I was hoping for, but it is still a win. And, this was achieved alongside…
Submitting to a Competition
Part way through July, I stumbled across a UK literary agency (one of the biggest, in fact!) holding a commercial fiction / women’s fiction novel competition. Now, I don’t really enter competitions, submit to literary agents (it has been years since I had a go that!), or write commercial fiction very often. But what I do have is an historical romance novel that I am in the process of finding a home for.
When I saw how wide the scope was in terms of what they were looking for, I thought why not try, after all the worst that could happen is that they don’t like it, and the response time was nice and short (I think it was 3 weeks).
So I gave the story another edit (I can never send submissions out without going through them again, even though they are complete), and submitted it. I didn’t make the shortlist but I’m happy I tried. Usually I would have made some excuse to justify not bothering, but not this time, which is a win in itself.
And, whilst I was waiting to hear of the outcome for this story, I then saw an advert on Wattpad for this year’s Watty Awards…
A Writing Challenge
I was late in deciding to enter the Watty’s this year. Very late. Unlike other years I’ve entered, the submission window appeared very short, but I like a challenge. And a challenge this was. I wrote a 52,000 word novel in about two weeks. Actually it was probably closer to 12 or 13 writing days, and as you can imagine, some of those days were long.
In the few days running up to the closing date, I was spending 12 hours in front of the computer, and on the last day it was about 17 hours. On that last day, I was still writing the story, and trying to edit and upload the book, chapter by chapter, to the website.
The deadline for submission was Friday 19th August, and I can honestly admit, if I hadn’t been in a different time zone, I would not have made it. As it was, it was 2 AM my time, when I got the form accompanying my entry submitted. (For those interested, it is called The City of Fallen Dreams and I entered it into the wild card category because it has a little bit of everything in it).
Am I happy I did it? You bet I am. In the past I would have said the deadline was too tight, there’s no way I could have made it, and I would have just given up. Not this time. I pushed and pushed and pushed, right to the very end and I got it in before the deadline. Miraculously.
Would I do it again? Nope. No way. This whole experience is what I would describe as endurance writing. It felt like (how I imagine) a marathon to be. And I’m not that kind of writer.
One of the upsides to this style of writing was that I was completely immersed in this story almost continuously from the beginning to the end of it, and that was a really enjoyable experience.
The shortlist is announced sometime in October. Naturally, I have my fingers crossed, but I don’t expect to be on it. Why? Because for me, this was about pushing myself. This was about setting an almost impossible challenge and being able to actually meet it.
It’s taken me a week to recover from these crazy 6 or 7 weeks of challenging myself, and I’m still going to take it easy for a few more days yet. But it has got me thinking of what challenges I want to set myself next.
Do you set yourself writing challenges or writing goals? Or maybe you find they hinder your writing more than help it? Let me know. I would love to hear your thoughts on this…