“Third Time’s A Charm” by Jeffrey McGraw

I was involved at the outset of the 85K Writing Challenge and met my goal. It took a lot of angst, concentration and copious amounts of diet Pepsi. I returned to the scene of the crime for year two. Same outcome.

This year as the pending 2018 challenge approached, I just wasn’t feeling it. It wasn’t writer’s block. It was writer’s “I don’t care.” For the first time in a lot of years, there was no one idea as to what I wanted to write.

No matter how hard I thought, nothing was floating my creative boat. I toyed briefly with NaNoWriMo, but couldn’t muster the energy to do even that. Now I was a week away from starting the 85K or not. After finishing up Netflix binging and reading the first two books in the Walt Longmire series, I couldn’t find a spark.

IMAGE: Loading New Year 2018 on Chalkboard

For some unknown reason, I couldn’t motivate myself.

And then, a writer I respect asked me if I was going to do the challenge again this year. I explained that I was having trouble getting up for it. But her question got me thinking as to what I had joined the challenge for in the first place. I had joined for accountability and writerly comradery. (Is that a word?). While I haven’t found the kindred spirits I had hoped for, the accountability I had sought was there throughout each of the first two years.

I wanted someone to be watching over my shoulder to make sure I was doing the work.

Reporting twice a week forced me to make sure I hit the marks. It did not question content or the creative choices I was making, just the fact that I was still doing the work.

It’s been said that you cannot edit a blank page. This is so true. And to list the next cliché taking up residence in my head, writers write. They don’t just think about writing, don’t talk ad nauseum (without purpose) of their current project thereby dissipating its energy, nor do they write just when the mood strikes.

Writers write.

They write every day, regardless of whether it is worthy of editing. So if I am having trouble being motivated, no one is going to motivate me except me. And that’s why I will once again join the 85K Writing Challenge this year. I have two projects I will continue to add words to in order to meet my daily word goal.

But with this reinvigorated creativity, I will also work on a debut project for a new character whom I hope will spin into a series. Whether any of this gets published or not, just competing is worth the effort. Each keystroke is a win for me because I am not just moaning in my recliner waiting for spring training. I am creating from whatever is within me to put those words on paper.

This is the main message I would impart to those contemplating the challenge:

You are not competing to get published. That will come later. In this challenge, you are competing against yourself.

You did the minimum one day, add a hundred words to the next day’s output.

I prefer to think of us all as winners the minute we sit at the keyboard, pad, or parchment. I hope to see you along the way.

Best of luck.

– Jeff

IMAGE: Podcast: Working Title on the 85K Writing Challenge
Bonus feature: Listen to Jeffrey McGraw on the “Working Title on the 85K Writing Challenge” podcast – Episode 3.

About Jeffrey McGraw

Jeffrey McGraw’s first writing success of note came in print form in the Ross Malone debut story in the iconic Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine. His next success was an audiobook of the first Ross Malone novel. Currently, Jeff numbers among his successes two completed 85K Writing Challenges. He hopes 2018 will be success number three. Read these novels by Jeffrey McGraw.

Julie Valerie

Julie Valerie

85K Writing Challenge: Embracing the writing life by advancing the practice of productive writing from the first word to the first reader.

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