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Lessons Learned from the 2021 Writeathon

by Cheryl Wray

We recently finished up the 2021 SCWC Writeathon, which took place last week (between Sept. 11 and 18). This activity was designed as a way to challenge members to actively write throughout an entire week; participants tracked their word count throughout the week and received virtual "badges" recognizing their accomplishments.


We were so pleased with the participation in this year's Writeathon. The following SCWC members participated:


Velma Bagby

Gina Bishop

Karen Bradford

June Chapko

Valorie Cooper

Kristy Ensor

McKenna Erwin

Christy Grissom

Audrey Hector

Miranda Herring

Jill Kvigne

Jeanie Malone

Karen Marks

April McCay

Lara Moore

Jason Norris

Debbie Phillips

Frances Pugh

Jena Reeves

Larke Ready

Laura Salmon

Sheri Shonk

Suzanne Stephens

Terri Jones

Deb Shirley

Jere Steele

Shelli Ragle

Mark Randall

Stephanie Rodda

Lynette Simmons

Mel Tavares

April Thomas

Bree Thompson


Congratulations to all of you!


The Writeathon can be a real challenge to many writers, because it demands that you take the act of writing seriously. We are called to put time into our craft and to intentionally make it part of our day.


As I welcomed participants to the event this year, I gave them some suggestions for finding the time to write and for otherwise being organized throughout the process.


Writing, after all, is not an easy process (despite what some people mistakingly think is the "glamorous" world of being a writer). It takes diligence and commitment and hard work.


Consider these suggestions, as you look at what you want to accomplish in the upcoming days:


~ Find a schedule that works with your personality.


Not everyone can get up at 5 a.m. to write for an hour. Others can't stay up until midnight to work. Find whatever fits your schedule, instead of the other way around.



Realize that there are many writing plans that can work. You might be able to write only on your lunch break, or perhaps you have to record yourself while driving on your daily commute. (Or maybe you CAN write at 5 a.m. or midnight.) There's no perfect time or place to write--as long as you're writing on a regular basis.


~ Come up with a writing goal.


Goals are important in many aspects of life, including writing. Come up with a specific writing goal (or, even better, a number of goals).


To track your writing quantity, give yourself goals to write a certain amount of words (ex: 1000 words a day) or to write for a certain amount of time (ex: one hour a day). You can also develop goals based on completing a project (ex: finish a chapter by a certain date) or on marketing plans (ex: send out 5 query letters each month).


Ultimately, an annual goal is also a good thing. At the beginning of each year, write a "master list" of goals for the year.


Start simply, though: Write something each day or week.


~ Mix it up.


Writing is, yes, a creative and freeing endeavor. But, let's face it: it can also be heavy and frustrating. There are times when it's just hard to find the energy, inspiration, or motivation to write.


When I get stuck in such a situation, I like to mix it up.


If I'm having a hard time working on the magazine article I have due, I'll write instead on my novel-in-progress. If you're stuck finding the inspiration to work on your memoir, shift gears and write a blog post.


Working on a different project can get your creative juices flowing in new ways...and can also give you a break that can then lead to new motivation for the project you need to work on.



~ Track your work, and treat yourself.


I'm a big believer in rewards. When I accomplish something in regards to my writing, I like to recognize it.


It may be small--an iced latte from my favorite coffee shop, permission to watch an episode of a favorite show on Netflix, a day off to go to the bookstore, lunch out with a friend--but a reward to myself is important in that it lets my mind take a break. It also celebrates a job well done. AND it gives me encouragement that I can accomplish the goals I have in front of me.


As you write, track your work and recognize when you need to take a break and treat yourself. It will do you a world of good.


~~~~~~~


Cheryl Wray is the coordinator of the Southern Christian Writers Conference. She wrote this post, in part, to give her a break from her efforts to finish her current young adult work-in-progress. She may also get an iced latte later!

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