The following is an excerpt from Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (And Live to Tell About It) by Rochelle Melander, now available from Writer’s Digest Books. Rochelle Melander is a certified professional coach and the author of 10 books, including a new book to help fiction and nonfiction writers write fast: Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (And Live to Tell About It) (October 2011). Melander teaches professionals how to get published, establish credibility, and navigate the new world of social media. In 2006, Rochelle founded Dream Keepers Writing Group, a program that teaches writing to at-risk tweens and teens. Visit her online at www.writenowcoach.com.
Get a Cheering Section
We can’t all be heroes because someone has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.
We write more when we connect with others who are writing productively. As I mentioned in an earlier chapter, a recent study on friendship and obesity suggested that having just one overweight friend increases our chances of being overweight. Other recent studies suggest that happiness is also contagious. It just makes sense that having one friend who writes like mad increases our chances of doing the same. The success of NaNoWriMo suggests that writers get more done when they’re connecting with other writers. Other writers offer valuable support. Or, you are who you connect with.
Get a Cheering Section
If you’ve ever watched a real marathon, you know that cheering crowds buoy the spirits of marathon runners. Writers also need people who cheer us as we complete this wild and crazy write-a-thon. Make a list of everyone who has been a cheerleader for you in the past. If you can, create a visual representation of them to keep near you during the writing marathon. Also, create a list of current cheerers who can offer encouragement during the writing marathon. Ask these cheerleaders if they’d be willing to send cards, food, and encouragement during the write-a-thon! Tell these friends that you are doing a write-a-thon and, while they’d be bored (and distracting) sitting next to you on the sofa and cheering you on as you write, you could use some virtual cheering during the month. Ask if they would be willing to send you a card or an encouraging email in the middle of your marathon (or whenever you think you will most need encouragement). It will help them (and you) if you can be specific about what kind of cheering you need. If hot food is what you need, friends are often willing to do a trade—feed them a few times now in exchange for them delivering meals during the write-a-thon.
Find a Writing Buddy
Writing buddies hold each other accountable to writing goals. When you meet with a potential writing buddy, begin by defining and sharing your writing goals. Then discuss what you need from the writing buddy relationship. Some people want to be challenged while others need encouragement. Some writers want a friend to look at their work. Others want to talk more about the writing process. Once you decide your purpose, there are multiple ways to stay connected. Choose the method that works best for your lifestyle. Some writers eschew social media and want to hear a friendly voice on the phone at the end of the day while other writers don’t like to be bothered with the phone but connect with hundreds of people on social media sites each day. In addition, some tools will be better suited to your goal. If you want your writing buddy to review your work, email might be better than a phone call. On the other hand, if you just want to do a quick check-in, sending a text message or connecting on a social media site might be your preferred method of communication. Here are some suggestions for connecting with a writing buddy:
Text message. Exchange text messages as a way of staying accountable to your writing and to report your daily progress.
Email. Write a brief email at the end of a daily writing session or the end of a writing week to report your progress and state your next goal. You can also use email to exchange burning questions, paragraphs, or chapters.
Social Media. Connect on Facebook or Twitter. On Facebook, you can commit to posting what you achieved each day for the marathon. Or, you can create a private group for those who are taking part in the write-a-thon. Either way, ask your buddies to give you a “like” (the equivalent of a virtual fist bump) for your progress. On Twitter, you can create a group using an application like TweetWorks. Or, you can set up a Twitter Chat to connect around your writing project at a specific time each day or each week.
Phone calls. Hold a weekly mastermind phone call to brainstorm suggestions for overcoming obstacles and moving forward. Better it by using a video conferencing tool like Skype.
Write-in. Spend a morning at a coffee shop, an afternoon at a local bookstore, or a weekend at a hotel and write. Sometimes hearing a friend type away can motivate you to do the same! In addition, writers can take brainstorming breaks to help each other overcome writer’s block.
I meet regularly with a mastermind partner and with friends who write. At least once a month I attend an author reading at a local bookstore, hoping some of their wisdom, discipline and good luck will rub off on me. When I speak with other writers about writing, I get more focused. I write more. They write more. Everyone benefits.