“Write a short story every week. It’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.”
— Ray Bradbury
That quote from Ray Bradbury is so true. To become a better writer, you must write! However, a story a week felt a bit aggressive to me but writing more short work just as an exercise is a worthy endeavor. At least it is for me. So why not beef up the word count to 20,000 words and write it in 5 days?
The core idea of this challenge was born from two ideas—two what if? questions. The first is the idea generator that I call "What if… And it's a romance!” It's pretty foolproof and has been the starting place for most of my books!
The second what if? question was born from my desire to lean into the energy of each season instead of charging in with all of my Leo energy and burning out by mid-month.
What does leaning into the season mean? Well, hold tight because it’s about to woo up in here.
I’ve always believed that life is cyclical and if you tap into those cycles, you will be happier and more productive. And we tap into those cycles by creating rituals.
If doing something like this feels overwhelming, like it’s just another thing on your to do list, let me point out that we participate in these rituals every day without a second thought. New Years Eve and other holidays, birthdays, even that cup of coffee and the tasks you complete to start your day are just a few rituals that are backed into our every day existence. A few years ago, I incorporated a full and new moon ritual into my monthly planning and it’s really helped me focus and get shit done. Leaning into the season is just another way to intensify the results I get from that practice.
This is how it works…
Each month has its own zodiac sign, and each sign has personality traits. Leos are creative and outgoing, Capricorns are ambitious and persistent, Aquarians are original and independent, etc. So instead of just charging into virgo season with my lioness energy, I’m going to attempt to adopt Virgo’s positive attributes shape my goals and intentions.
Virgo season always feels like the time of the year when we can get back on track after lazing about in August. Virgos are known to be analytical, hardworking, and detail oriented. This is the energy I’m bringing into September and the #20kin5Days challenge!
Why 20,000 words?
To keep things simple, we're going to stick to a maximum word count of 20k. That’s four thousand words a day. Perfectly doable if you set aside the time to get it done. This is also a popular price point on Amazon and a lot of ebook first publishers are hungry for books in this word count. This way, if you decide to sell them, they are long enough to be a standalone title!
Who should you participate in the #20kin5days challenge?
Well, I’m a romance author and I work with romance authors so of course I will be writing a romance. But you can be a newbie wordmaker or a seasoned veteran of filthy fiction. All are welcome! Use the hashtag and add your genre of choice, #20kRomIn5days, #20kSciFiIn5days, #20kNonFicIn5Days. You get the idea.
The plan is to this challenge once a month, most likely, at the beginning of the month. Can you imagine? In one year we will have 12 novellas for our efforts! Simply use the #20kin5days hashtag to join in the shenanigans!
Okay here are the rules:
There are no rules. Not really. But here’s a few best practices to make sure you end the five days with a completed novella.
Make time to write.
The challenge starts on August 30 (it’s a new moon—intentions and all that). We’re gonna write 4,000 words a day for five days straight. For me, that means I need at least two hours of uninterrupted writing time or six and half Pomodoro sessions. This how I set myself up for success, and you should do the same!
Know what you’re going to write.
The writing works is two camps — pantsers and plotters — and never the two shall meet. I don’t actually believe that, but my advice is, however you prepare to write, take these next few days to do that.
Focus on creating a writing ritual.
If you don’t have a ritual already, #20kin5days is a great time to establish one. I’ve spent a lot of time over the years figuring out what I need to do to get in the right headspace to write. Take some time to imagine how you want your writing ritual to look and feel then use #20kin5Days to make it real.
Keep a detailed record
You can’t track what you don’t change, and to be honest, #20kin5days is just the start for me. Eventually I want to up that word count and that requires a detailed record of my daily output. I keep a pretty detailed writing journal. Check out my post on how to set up. I also use the Wordkeeper app to track my sessions and my word count.
So there you have it!
The #20kin5days Writing Challenge stars on August 30, 2019. If you want some tips and tricks to make the planning process go smoothly and some words of encouragement once the challenge starts, sign up for the challenge emails. Otherwise, find and follow the hashtag on Instagram to join in the shenanigans!
I’ll see you over there!
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