During the month of May, I participated in a 30 Days of Writing Challenge. What a great experience! The host, Fiction Blueprints, did an amazing job of providing helpful posts on how to get started, developing the story and characters, and posted inspiring quotes to keep me motivated to write every day.My goal was to finish writing my 80k novel. I was at 25k words at the start of the challenge which meant writing 55k words. That’s more than NaNoWri. I was being over optimistic since I can only write an average of 2-3 hours a day, if I’m lucky. But I’m digressing. Here’s what I learned and accomplished:

I can write everyday AND promote my book: I recently took a Marketing Time Management course (yes there is such a thing) with Savvy Authors to better utilize my time for marketing, so I could focus on writing. Without that class I wouldn’t have written as much as I did.

Having a daily writing goal is a great motivator: I found I pushed myself a little more when I knew my daily word count and was not just writing without a goal. It helped me to increase my daily word count and keep it up consistently. I usually take 6 months to a year to write a book (sometimes longer) and I wanted to shorten that time to four months as I want to write two books a year. The challenge got my daily writing average up and I feel confident it will help me meet my two books a year goal.

It’s okay not to reach my daily writing goal: I skipped a couple of my writing times (wrote at lunch, but skipped nighttime) to spend time with my husband and family. Right now you’re thinking, what? She’s contradicting herself. In a way I am, but the lesson is it refreshed me, which is necessary to avoid crunch time burnout, getting writer’s block or worse, avoid writing.

Schedule blog posts for the month: I did this for most of my blogs before the challenge started, but I missed a couple of them which hindered my daily word count. You can also preschedule Twitter and Facebook posts that market your book, or other regular things you want to share. This enables you to stay connected (talk with followers) without being bogged down with daily postings that could take away from writing.

Don’t schedule guest appearances during a writing challenge Unless you are able to get the posts ahead of time and schedule them. Guest posts usually end up taking more time than you originally planned and if your daily writing time is short can make it shorter

Interact with others I tweeted and/or Facebooked my progress (almost daily). I got wonderful support from friends and fellow authors which motivated me. I was also able to motivate and encourage others, something I love to do. I used hashtags such as #amwriting and #writefast. I met some great writers and even gain a few followers.

I didn’t reach my ultimate word count of 80k, but I did accomplish other goals:

  1. Got past the half way point of my novel.
  2. Got back on track with my novel deadline for the end of June
  3. Brought up my daily word count

What about you? Is there key things you’ve learned from writing challenges that either motivated you or helped you improve your writing habits?