Writing and Querying

Ambitious April Stay at Home Challenge

This month I’ve decided to embrace the stay at home challenge. I’ve committed to writing 45,000 words in 30 days. For those of you doing the math, that’s 1,500 words a day. I know. I am crazy.

But for all the scary and hard things about the global pandemic, I also believe it brings opportunities. I believe staying at home can be a time where you focus on big life goals, the things that don’t happen overnight. I believe an event like this helps illuminate priorities. At least it has for me.

I’ll be honest, I’ve been beating myself up about this new manuscript. I’ve been working on it for two years, which feels too long but somehow not long enough. After writing a terrible first draft, as Anne Lamott says, I have completely reworked the story, the character backgrounds, and setting, so in a way it almost feels like a new manuscript. Yet my over-achiever brain still thinks I should have had this thing shiny and ready for agents a year ago.

This manuscript was much more difficult to write than my first. I think it’s because my aims are different. Now that I’ve gotten a handle on how to write a novel, I want to write a really good novel. My first manuscript was an escape, a fun adventure, a huge life goal. With my second I find it hard to turn off the critic in my brain. I am much more discerning about the storyline and structure and sentences. The scenes I have rewritten are for the better of the book, but it’s slow going.

So, in an attempt to get out of my own head and out of my own way, I’m embracing an ambitious April challenge. I am going to write 1,500 words each day no matter what. I’m going to shut the door on my inner critic. She can take a seat outside my office and chill there for a while. I think she’ll be more useful in a revision conversation.

It’s important to note that I’ve done a lot of brainstorming, freewriting, and planning with this novel already. I still have things to figure out, but I’m in a spot where I can write consistently each day.

So, my stay at home challenge to each of you is this: what have you always wanted to do? Could you do that thing right now?

I know we all have different things going on in our lives. Some of you are juggling childcare while working from home. Others of you might be facing a lost job. Still others of you might be exhausted from all the changes this has meant at work. I get that.

Maybe your stay at home challenge is something that fuels your soul like reading a good book. Maybe it’s something self-care related like doing yoga three times a week. Maybe it’s simply allowing yourself to Netflix and chill. Whatever it is you need during this time, do it. It’s scary out in the world, but it’s also a time of opportunity at home. So take it. Whatever it is you need.

I will be so curious to hear what your ambitious April stay at home challenge is. Feel free to comment and we can support each other.

Photo by Maddy Zen.

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