My April Madness and October Obsession Writathons are loosely based on Chris Baty’s book, NO PLOT? NO PROBLEM! He’s the guy who started National Novel Writing Month. I also borrowed tips from April Kihlstrom’s Book in a Week events.
The main difference between NaNoWriMo and BIAW and my BIAM Writathons is that instead of concentrating on writing a first draft of a whole novel during the allotted time, we’re all about writing and writing some more. The purpose is to end up with a big chunk of writing at the end of the month. To be held accountable for actually getting work done. Some BIAMers write a first draft, some work on a manuscript already in progress, others revise, edit or plot out a manuscript; some write short stories, poetry, songs, or autobiographical snippets. It doesn’t matter what BIAMers work on, as long as they work on something and write.
We belong to the BIAM-Writathon Yahoo Group—invitation only. On the loop, we have databases to keep track of our daily progress, files with lists of books, articles and websites, so we can study craft and find helpful tips. There’s a place to go to hook up with critique partners. And of course, we post messages to help keep motivation high.
One thing to remember is that the April Madness and October Obsession Writathons are not competitions. BIAMers support and encourage one another. We cheer and celebrate when writing gets done; we give hugs and tell each other “you’ll do better tomorrow” when life gets in the way and nothing gets written.
BIAM is all about quantity, not quality. That does not mean we write crap. What we do is get the words written on screen/paper. We write. We lock our internal editors in THE DUNGEON and write. We get the story down as fast as our brains work and fingers type. After the month is over, we know we can go back and edit to our hearts’ content. Some BIAMers can’t stand not editing during the writathons. So, they find a way to get their pages/words written for the day, then reward themselves and edit those pages AFTER they write their daily quota.
In April Madness 2005, I set a goal to write 12 or more pages a day in order to finish my first draft. I put post-it notes all over the house and in the car saying: 12 plus pages a day; You can do it; Keep writing; Write some more. Subliminal messages everywhere I looked, and it worked for me.
Punishments and rewards were helpful, too. I promised myself that I could not color/dye my hair until after I finished the first draft. For me, that was a real motivator. I also promised myself that after I finished my first draft, I would bake a Texas Hot Cocoa Cake in celebration. I did and it was delish! (The recipe is in the files on the BIAM Yahoo Loop. Others have baked it and enjoyed it, too.) One short term reward I used was if I finished two pages, I could have a Coffee Nip (candy). A punishment was if I didn’t write four pages, I had to scrub the tub. Or I’d set a timer for say, twenty minutes, and see how much I could write. Things like that may sound dumb, but you’d be surprised how well they work. I wrote 288 pages in 28 days during April Madness 2005.
The April Madness and October Obsession Writathons allow writers to find the joy in writing again. We let our imaginations run wild and free. We forget the “rules” and just write. We realize we don’t have to write brilliantly the first go around. We can be flexible and stay loose. We know nothing is permanent and everything is fixable. Many of us have totems, talismans and/or good luck charms–like my red cowboy hat and magic scarf–that help us transition into writer’s mode and get in THE ZONE. These items remind us that although writing is hard work, it can also be fun.
Participation in April Madness and October Obsession has dwindled down through the years. But there’s still a dedicated group of us who look forward to those two months a year when we can get a jump start on some serious writing.
If you’re interested, it’s not too late. Join the Madness! You’ll be glad you did.
To become a BIAMer, email: