Write Your Own Megillah Guest Post: Why Write-A-Thon? by Rochelle Melander

Write Your Own Megillah officially begins on November 21, the first day of Jewish Book Month. If you haven’t yet registered, read the guest post below by author Rochelle Melander and contact The Whole Megillah through a blog comment to get your registration form.

Write on!

Why Write-A-Thon?

By Rochelle Melander

I’ve always liked marathon style writing. In college and graduate school, I chalked up my all-night writing marathons to procrastination. But in the past 15 years, I’ve been blessed with publishers who have given me insane deadlines! I’ve completed nearly every one of my thirteen finished books (ten of them published) in less than three months, most in 6 weeks, and one in just nine days.

When I found out about National Novel Writing Month, I discovered that I am not the only crazy person who likes to write marathon style. Every November, a whole bunch of folks attempt to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. Why? Chris Baty believed that the absence of a deadline separates most writers from achieving their dreams. So he provided one.

This year, just as more than 200,000 writers are crossing the finish line for National Novel Writing Month, you will be starting your own book for Write Your Own Megillah. Here are five reasons writing marathons works:

1. We have made a commitment. A friend if mine who runs marathons says that signing up for a race is often the only way that someone will commit time to training. I have seen the same thing with National Novel Writing Month and other writing marathons. Often the only way for a writer to get motivated to start and finish a project is by signing up for a race like NaNo or Write Your Own Megillah. Why not? If writing a book is on your bucket list, you owe it to yourself to try. Sign up.

2. Deadlines work. Real or imagined, writers work better under the threat of a deadline. National Novel Writing Month and Write Your Own Megillah provides writers without publishers the beautiful gift of a deadline. Who cares that there isn’t an editor waiting to get your book on December 21? For those 30 days, you and your buddies are working like crazy to meet the deadline and finish your novel.

3. You can do anything for 30 days. When you have a hard task like writing a book, it is easier to dig in and get it all done at once rather than dragging it out over several years. You can let go of life stuff for 30 days—but longer than that can be hard. Writing marathons work because anyone can write massive amounts of words for a short period of time. Yes, it will require sacrifices and long hours and late nights or early mornings—but you can do that for a brief period of time. On December 22, life will go back to normal. You can pick up your habits of sleeping in and staying up late, watching hours of mindless television, and hanging out with friends at the bar. Remember: You can do anything for 30 days.

4. Buddies help. Doing a write-a-thon with others, like Write Your Own Megillah, makes it easier and more fun. With a friend you can hold each other accountable, set joint writing sessions, and give each other encouragement. “Completing a marathon is a feeling that you can’t buy.  You have to earn it.  The experience is what you make of it.  The camaraderie is awesome.” Dan Morihiko. There is actually research that suggests that both obesity and happiness are contagious. No doubt writing productivity is, too.

5. Momentum works. Being busy is good for productivity—or to paraphrase Newton, objects in motion stay in motion. Once you have started writing an amazing amount of words each day, it will get easier to write an amazing amount of words the next day and the day after that.

Your turn: Have you participated in other writing marathons? Why do you think they worked for you?

Rochelle Melander is a certified professional coach and the author of 10 books, including a new book to help fiction and nonfiction writers write fast: Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (And Live to Tell About It) (October 2011). Melander teaches professionals how to get published, establish credibility, and navigate the new world of social media. In 2006, Rochelle founded Dream Keepers Writing Group, a program that teaches writing to at-risk tweens and teens. Visit her online at www.writenowcoach.com. She blogs regularly at http://www.writenowcoach.com/blog/.

About Barbara Krasner

History writer and award-winning author Barbara Krasner writes Jewish-themed poetry, articles, nonfiction books, and novels for children and adults.
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24 Responses to Write Your Own Megillah Guest Post: Why Write-A-Thon? by Rochelle Melander

  1. Kimberly Marcus says:

    Great post to start the write-a-thon. Thank you!

  2. Love the idea of Write Your Own Megillah–I agree with all of Rochelle’s points. I’d join in, but I’m already losing my insanity as part of NaNoWriMo. But for 9 days, I’ll be suffering–uh, I mean creating–with all of my Jewish friends. Good luck to everyone!!

  3. Kimberly Marcus says:

    Just finished my first writing session with 734 words. I was going to start writing this morning but I just couldn’t come up with anything so I let my thoughts wander throughout the day and was finally ready at 9pm to start. And it was great. Looking forward to tomorrow.

  4. Yael Levy says:

    Sowed 650 words last night! Hope tonight’s toil will yield more!

  5. I’m loving the pressure! With this, so many ideas are coming my way! Looking forward to the challenge although Thanksgiving weekend is going to be difficult…I’ll manage!

  6. Writer’s block has set in and I’m really tired of cleaning my apartment! I’ve written around 8,000 words and am at a standstill. I usually write cultural history, so this type of writing is new for me. I’m wondering about the ratio of dialogue to narrative. I’m better with less dialogue and more background/history.
    Please give me your thoughts.

    • Try some freewriting in your character’s voice. As one of my advisors in the Vermont MFA program used to say, “Take your character out for coffee.” And even though this sounds counter-intuitive, read. It will probably spark something! Let us know how you make out!

  7. Thank you, I’m back on track!

  8. Barbara, could you let me know in what format the book should be sent? Also, should there be a table of contents?
    Thank you!

  9. Quick question–What font should be used? I read somewhere that the word count changes from one font to another and also…most important…that the word count changes in Microsoft Words word function. I usually don’t count words, so please advise.
    To date, I have 16,161 words, on my Pages on my Mac.

  10. Kimberly Marcus says:

    Fell off track but am going try for the big push!

  11. Hi Barbara,
    I’m sending you emails, but, I haven’t heard back. Perhaps I have an incorrect one. Please advise.
    By the way, this challenge is wonderful training! Loved it!

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