Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What Happens the Morning After a Writing Challenge?

By Stacy S. Jensen


Deadlines used to be part of my daily work schedule. There were news and advertising deadlines. Then, we had production and delivery deadlines. I began my shift at the newspaper and knew that by the end of my workday there would be a newspaper ready for readers.

Today, as a writer and stay-at-home mom, my deadlines are more flexible. They are what I make them to be and sometimes, I’m pretty lenient with myself.

Enter: Writing Challenges.

I’m not the kind, who fares well in the National Novel Writing Month-kind of challenge, especially not after the NaNoWriMo Disaster of 2009. While I have 100 pages and an outline on my computer, I never won that challenge. When December 1 arrived, I knew I had failed.  I vowed not to do that again — the failure part.

When I was ready to try again, I picked a more reasonable November challenge: PiBoIdMo. That’s Picture Book Ideas Month created by children’s author Tara Lazar. The challenge: write 30 picture book ideas in 30 days. The result:  more than 100 ideas.

So what did I do after PiBoIdMo?

Well, I woke up on December 1 and signed up for another writing challenge.

Julie Hedlund created the 12 x 12 in 2012 Challenge.  Participants write a picture book draft each month. This challenge was the deadline I needed. I’ll have around 20 picture book manuscripts when I welcome 2013. 

A pile of picture book ideas written during  the 2011 PiBoIdMo Challenge
Both of these challenges helped me in different ways. The PiBoIdMo Challenge made me get into the habit of writing down story ideas as they pop into my head. If I don’t capture it on paper or my iPhone, I’ll lose it forever.  The 12 x 12 in 2012 Challenge reminds me to write my stories. Silly sounding? I’ve had phases of my writing career where I’ve spent more time talking about writing than on the actual work.

Some people don’t need challenges, but I like them for their deadlines and the writing communities formed around them.

I know I’ll participate in several writing challenges in 2013. Will you? If so, what will it be?

About the Author: Stacy S. Jensen worked as a newspaper reporter and editor for two decades. Today, she writes picture books and revises a memoir manuscript. She lives in Colorado Springs with her husband and toddler.
Twitter: @StacySJensen