Friday 9 May 2014

Getting it done - with the help of challenges

I'm someone who works best with a deadline. It used to drive my mother crazy that I would do my assignments the night before they were due and still get a decent mark (OK, I didn't get straight A's... but the work was done). The same comes to my writing.

I have tried self-imposed deadlines, but they don't seem to work as well as having a challenge to be part of. As I write this post, I'm in the middle of the Chapter Book Challenge where the aim is to write a novel for primary age kids in a month.

There are challenges around for all sorts of different writing, from NaNoWriMo for novelists to Write Non Fiction in November for those who write non fiction to 12x12 for those who write picture books. There are challenges for just about every writer.

Each challenge has different rules and goals, however the ultimate goal is the same - get it done.

Having a deadline set by a challenge helps me get a first draft complete for the following reasons:

  • There are other people involved who hold you accountable
  • There are usually tips and tricks shared during the challenge to help when you're stuck
  • There is usually a group of people to offer support when times are tough, and to celebrate with you when you achieve a goal
  • This same group can also give you some feedback on writing that you may think is awful and give some tips to improve it.
  • Some challenges offer prizes, that are fun to win, but also good to find out what craft books and resources are out there
When it boils down to it, the main reason I love these challenges is to see completed first drafts ready for editing.

Now, I just need to find a challenge to help get these manuscripts edited and publication ready...

Melissa Gijsbers lives in Melbourne and writes in between working as a bookkeeper and being the mother of two active boys. In August 2013, she had 3 fractured fairy tales published in Teapot Tales: a unique collection of fairy tales. She has also had Christmas stories published in Jingle Bells: Tales of Holiday Spirit from Around the World, and Tales by the Tree: An anthology of Christmas Flash Fiction. Follow her writing journey at


  1. An editing challenge ... now, that would be a challenge!

    I'm like you - I work best when I'm directly accountable for something, even if it is a self-imposed deadline.

  2. What is it about deadlines that actually spur you on? Is it guilt? The sense of accomplishment when done? The knowledge you've done something worthwhile you never thought you'd be capable of? Maybe all these things.

    Whatever the case deadlines - self imposed or actual - WORK.

    Thanks for the encouragement to get us going, Melissa!

  3. Hi Melissa,
    Making yourself accountable helps prevent procrastination, that's for sure. I agree that deadlines can be valuable.

  4. Rita, part of why I need a deadline is to do with my personality. With challenges, it's not just a self imposed deadline, it's also got a lot to do with the encouragement of the group.

    Iola, there is a picture book editing challenge that I heard of a while ago :)

  5. Hi Melissa, I agree, writing challenges are helpful because they train us to work to self-imposed deadlines. If you know you can comfortably write 5k or 10k words per week, you can more easily plan and schedule your writing time when you have book contract deadlines.


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