Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Writing Marathon

I’m not much for the running type of marathon, but I do participate in the writing variety. I’m in the midst of one now. For this week, until next Monday, I will be writing my face off. With any luck, by next Monday I will have the first draft of a new story.
So why would I take time off work and subject myself to this abuse? Because it works for me. I have found that I am not a “small chunks” type of writer with the ability to write a few minutes here and there on lunch hours and before work to get the job done. (Click here for a discussion of big chunk writers versus small chunk writers) I need to immerse myself in my story for long periods at a time. This helps me really “feel” the story and the characters. Working on a manuscript every day builds an excitement and a connection for me that I just can’t get by working in small chunks.
The other advantage of a writing marathon for me is (hopefully) completing my manuscript in a shorter amount of time. A writing marathon is an intense several days, but at the end of it, I have, if not a finished manuscript, one that is well on its way to being done.
This week I’m working on a project that I hope to turn into a series. In this three book series, each book begins with someone being left at the altar. The first book in this series, “Her Best Man” is already written and published, and has been since 2007. As you can tell from that date, I’ve been working on this for a long time. Don’t let anyone tell you that writing a series is easy. For some reason, the other two books just didn’t come together. The second book, “There Goes the Groom” has been written, rewritten, rewritten again, and revised to within an inch of its life. I got to the point where I had no idea what I was doing anymore, so I had to set it aside. I conceived a plot for the third book “Always a Bridesmaid”, but I was never happy with it. The heroine seemed weak, and the hero lacked critical motivation. This week I’m working on “Always a Bridesmaid”. It’s probably weird to write the third story before finishing the second, but I feel a new spark for this story. I came up with a new plot that I’m excited about and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.
How is my marathon going? It’s had its ups and downs. I started a little slow last weekend. I got sidetracked watching the Women’s World Curling Championship. Team Canada, skipped by Saskatchewan girl Amber Holland, came from behind to get into the Sunday final. Unfortunately, she came up short in the final and lost 7-5. But it was a great run and fun to watch.
Unfortunately, watching the curling meant I wasn’t sitting at my computer typing. And then on Sunday we decided to take a look at new show homes. It was the last weekend for the Parade of Homes, and it’s always fun to tour homes I have no hope of ever being able to afford. It was fun, but again I wasn’t writing all day. Still, I managed to get a couple of thousand words written over the weekend.
Monday and Tuesday went a little better, even though I took some time off on Tuesday afternoon to hit some golf balls with my husband at the indoor golf dome. By the end of Tuesday I had just over 9,000 words of a required 50,000 words written.
Wednesday’s been my best day so far. As of this writing, I’m up over 12,000 words. While you read this I’m typing my fingers to the bone, moving my way toward the finish line. I hope.
Another favourite of mine is taking my writing on the road. For my next marathon, I’m going to combine it with a retreat when I go with my husband on a business trip in April. I get to write all day in the hotel room. This is my favourite place to write; someone else makes my bed, vaccums the floor and cooks my meals while I get to spend all day writing. It’s the best.
Have you ever participated in your own writing marathon or a writing retreat? Are you a big chunk writer like me, or can you write in small chunks? If you have a choice between the two methods of writing, which do you prefer?


  1. When Muse is cooperating, I love to write all day. The retreats the SRW holds in the spring were perfect for writing marathons. I miss those retreats.

    Sounds like you've found your stride heading into the latter part of your marathon. Good luck with it, Jana - can't wait to hear more about "Always a Bridesmaid" :)

  2. I'm glad you're off and running :D

    I like writing in small chunks, mainly because it works for my lifestyle. But I'd love to try a writing retreat and see how that works - hopefully this spring! I love BIAW but part of the appeal is the community which keeps me focused.

    Happy writing!

  3. Hi Janet,
    I finally came up for air! Unfortunately, I didn't writing as much as I'd hoped to during my writing marathon. I got in about 15,000 words out of a hoped for 50,000. But it's a start. With any luck, and some nose to the grindstone, I'll finish this story by the summer.

    The retreats in Muenster are the best. We have the privacy and the time to write, but we still get to visit with our friends over meals and during our evening get together. It's the best!


  4. Hi Karyn,
    I wish I could write in small chunks. I envy people who can turn on that creative stream in a limited amount of time. It takes me a while just to get get in the writing groove. My best advice is that no matter whether you write in big chunks or small chunks, try to write something everyday. You want to keep that writing muscle in shape.

    I hope you can make it to the writing retreat this year. Barring anything unforeseen, I plan on attending. I'm hoping to extend my retreat by a day or two if that's possible. I hope to see you there!