Write on – why I love writing challenges

Tips on writing and quotes from famous writers are everywhere. I think most advice boils down to “sit there and write. Every day.”

But that’s easier than it sounds, it’s like “eat less, move more.” Easy in theory, but a different story when it’s chocolate o’clock. Writing challenges help me with discipline and build my daily writing habit.

I started with Nanowrimo – write a 50,000 word novel in November. This initially helped me to get into the habit of “vomit drafting”, just blurting it all out, writing without the inner critic and getting those words and thoughts down on the page. But a target of 1,667 per day is not sustainable in the long term for me. Nowadays Nanowrimo is not just for November, there are regular challenges throughout the year and for other forms. I’ve written four novels in Nanowrimos.

My current favourite is Monthly Writing Twitter Challenge with a target of 500 words per day or 1 hour editing. This is an achievable target without feeling overwhelming. And over the month, even with the minimum 500 words, I can amass at least 15,000 words. It’s a simple challenge with a great supportive community on Twitter and it was originally inspired by Dr Who! Join us and sign up for March!

The challenges keep me accountable, motivated and give me a sense of achievement.

What are your tips for building writing discipline?



How 70s Dr Who still inspires me – Leela


Recent Reads – Perdido Street Station by China Mieville


  1. I agree with you completely! Writing challenges are fantastic motivators, and unfortunately, I tend to get off track with my writing goals when I don’t have one to hold me accountable.

    My best tips for building writing discipline are these:
    –Whenever you feel unmotivated to write, imagine how great it will feel when you hit those writing goals AND how badly it will feel when you don’t.
    –Find someone in your life to hold you accountable. My husband literally turns off the TV and points upstairs to the study when I’m late to a writing session.
    –Set small, achievable goals. Writing a novel is a huge task, but writing 500 words a night, like you said about the Twitter challenge, is much less overwhelming.

  2. I love challenges and I love them even more when they scare the hell out of me because in that case they reveal something I either hadn’t noticed about the way I think or I avoided looking at it. A good example is that challenge you issued the other day for the twitter pitch of our manuscript. Half of me wanted to run away screaming releasing various excuses about why not do it. The other half left the creative mind simmer on it, while examining the reasons for the fear. Then the pitch was born in a natural way and in fact I was surprised by it hugely. 😀

    Incidentally I love the Twitter Writing Challenge and 500 words may seem low but I think that is the monkey brain screaming in black-and-white thought patterns. I think 500 words are a good as 10,000 and ultimately fuels a momentum that even though it’s achievable without a challenge it’s easier with the challenge and even easier and more fun with the community behind it.

    The other way I keep myself into a writing momentum is to apply the discipline of my day job to my writing time treating it as a second job. I am careful not to apply this discipline in a hard way, I prefer to listen inside and go with the flow and the amount of energy left after working sometimes over 10 hours in my day job.

    Discipline without passion is empty so I remind continuously myself of how passionate I feel about writing and how wonderfully it makes me feel.


    • I’m one of those people who thrives with some rules and discipline. Always the conscientious nerd! Hmm…treating my writing like a part time job sounds like good material for a follow-up blog post. Thanks for the inspiration.

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