NaNoWriMo – Week 2: Writing Marathons – Are they right for you?

nano pagesThis past weekend, as many of you know, I participated in a writing marathon, or write-a-thon, “Go Green-Go Write!” The venue was wonderful, the press room of Spartan Stadium. They had drinks and snacks a plenty and other food options to purchase. There were a lot of interesting people and the press room has probably never been so quiet as we all worked on our word count. Writing time was broken up into “four quarters” and “overtime” sticking with the foot ball theme. I didn’t stick around for overtime. My results? I wrote around 9,000 words. Good, but not enough to get my week total up to the 15,000 I had hoped for.

Was it worth taking a day out of my life to do this? Most certainly. Would I do it again? Don’t know. In terms of my own writing, I’m better at slow and steady than a sprint. I spent most of Monday typing my hand written pages in order to log them into the NaNoWriMo website. I also find that doing this helps get me ready for my next bit of writing. There’s something about knowing I have pages of un-typed words in a notebook that keep me from writing more. It’s as if I have to clear my brain by putting the words into my computer.

My experience has been that there are only so many words I can write over a period of time before I need  a break. I can spread this out over a week, or try to cram it into one marathon session, leaving me exhausted. Others are not like me. They thrive on being surrounded by other writers working at their trade. I wrote pretty much as much as I would have sitting at home.

I consider myself pretty fast when I’m on a roll, but I was surprised by how slow my writing was in comparison to the winners of each quarter. One  person actually wrote 6,000 words in one of them; the overall winner wrote 22,000 words. I’m not that fast on the computer and find it harder to ignore my mistakes and keep writing. In long hand, I just scratch out sentences I don’t like and keep going.

I told myself that its not just the word count that matters. The quality of words counts as well. I’m reminded of the writer in “The Shining,” who wrote the same words over and over again. That produces a good word count but doesn’t get you close to a complete novel.

The other advantage of attending a write-a-thon is that you are away from distractions. There’s no interruptions keeping you from focusing on your writing, which interruptions have disrupted my writing schedule significantly this week.

So, as to the value of attending write-a-thons, they are fun, but not necessarily the best option for me. After spending Monday, usually my best writing day, typing what I wrote on the weekend, I’m behind on my word count. So far this week I only have around 8,000 words written, total word count 22,000, not even half way.

Maybe I need to start sprinting.

What about you? What are your experiences in regards to writing marathon? Do they work for you?

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