Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Why I love the quickie: my new affair with #1k1hr

Author Patrick Alan recently introduced me to the quickie.

No, no – there’s no need to warn Pythagoras or tattle to Patrick’s wife.

I’m talking about a writing quickie, otherwise known as 1k1hr. You can read about it here on Patrick’s blog, or if you’re on Twitter, you can skim tweets under the hashtag #1k1hr.

Here’s the basic idea as Patrick spells it out:

The object is simple. Sit down and write until you have one thousand words and one hour has passed. You have to accomplish both. The challenge isn’t to write 1,000 words in an hour. It’s to write for at least an hour and at least 1,000 words.

I learned of it a few weeks ago on Twitter when Patrick tweeted that he was about to start and invited others to join. Several of us did, and the result was a fast flurry of words, tweets of encouragement, and probably a few glasses of wine.

I’ve tried it at least half-a-dozen more times since then, often with different writers who play along and help motivate each other. I can spend most of an afternoon slowly plodding along in my manuscript, but my 1k1hr time is when I really feel my engine rev.

Here’s what I love about it:

Like any quickie, it’s fast & furious and still rewarding. You get the satisfaction of seeing your word count climb without committing a huge block of time to the endeavor.

It forces you to switch off the internal editor. Instead of nitpicking your word choices and tweaking sentences as you go, it allows you to throw words on the page without obsessing. Yes, you’ll probably have some cleanup work to do later, but you’ll also have more words than when you started.

It provides the motivation of a challenge.
You can do it by yourself (snicker) and make it a personal challenge, or you can do it with other authors (double snicker) and push each other. It’s important to remember you aren’t racing each other or even the clock. The goal is to get words on the page, and to use a specific time frame and word count goal to stay focused.

It works for writers at all levels. It doesn’t matter if you’re a multi-published author or someone working on your first manuscript. It doesn’t matter if you’re a slower writer or a speedier one. You can pat yourself on the back whether it takes you two hours to hit 1,000 words or if you do double that in the one-hour time frame.

Want to play? You can watch for a #1k1hr challenge on Twitter, or issue your own. If you’re not on Twitter, you can still set a stopwatch by yourself or prearrange a time to write with several others.

Any questions? Want to play? Are you already doing some variation of this on your own? I’m eager to hear your thoughts!

And feel free to join me sometime for a quickie.


Sara Best said...

I just discovered the #1k1hr today and I love it!

So fun!

Harley May said...

This is great for people who love competitions and quickies. I'm not a fan of either. Cough.

Kelly Breakey said...

I am loving it too. It makes me more accountable to me. I think Patrick had a great idea. He must have gotten it from his wife.

Patty Blount said...

I will have to try this. Last night, with the computer on my lap from 8 PM until midnight, I'd managed a sentence.


I am in dire need of a writing intervention. This may do the trick.

Jen J. Danna said...

It would have to be very specific content that I'm writing to allow me to do this (Is this an excuse to add another smut scene? Hmmm....), but I should toss the research material at some point and join in. Granted, this is coming perilously close to discovery writing, Tawna... what are you trying to drag a tried-and-true outliner into?!? ;)

Patrick Alan said...

Hello ladies. How are you. Fantastic.

Not only am I brilliant, I am also incredibly hot.

If you do #1k1hr, will you look like me and be brilliant? No. But you will have 1,000 words that you did not have before. You can thank me for that.

Swan dive!

Danica Avet said...

One of my chapters hosts sprints in a chatroom. Someone will shout "go" and we'll write. I haven't done it in a while because it's hard for me to get around the chatroom when I'm writing. I did like it though. It does force me to put everything but the words out of my head. I'm hoping I can pick it up again, but if I can't, maybe I'll try this new thingamabob (technical term for 1k1hr)

Dianne K. Salerni said...

I loved it!

It kept me from checking Twitter and/or Facebook and/or my Amazon rank after every second sentence. And I even forgot to make my 8 pm vodka martini until #1k1hr was over at 8:30 pm.

Don't worry. I chugged to make up for lost time.

KD Easley said...

I love it. Even if I've been at the computer all day and I feel like I don't have anymore words, 1k1hr jump starts my brain, and I haven't noticed what I write is more craptastic than what I write when I'm not under the gun, just a few more typos.

Linda G. said...

I tried #1k1h for the first time yesterday, and am pleased with the results. At first I was afraid I'd end up with pure garbage, but you know what? The majority of what I produced is keep-able. I'll definitely do it again.

But don't tell Patrick. He'll get a big(ger) head.

Izzy G. said...

This doesn't work for lazy people like me. I'll start to write with a lofty goal in mind, like a thousand words, and then four minutes later I'll be checking my email. Then reading some blogs. Checking my email again. Read some more blogs. Hey, let's go look at some of those new books I got at the library yesterday. Let's go blog about those books. Let's to read blogs about those books. I'm going to check my email again. Wasn't there something I was doing? I don't think so. OMG look someone made a blog post!

So I've discovered my Super Awesome Blogging tEchnique for wRiting, or SABER. I'll have Google reader open with everything read so that when minimized, it just says "Google Reader", and my WIP. I'll begin writing and aim for, say, 200 words by the time "Google Reader" says "Google Reader (1)". (I know, I follow way too many blogs.) Then I read that (1) and do the writing thing again. I'm a big fan of SABER and sabers in general. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some writing to do.

Adventures in Children's Publishing said...

Terrific idea! I hadn't seen this concept until your post today. I think we need a specific goal sometimes to keep ourselves moving. Thanks so much!


Jeannie said...

I tried this for the first time the other day. It took me longer than the actual hour,(which according to the rules is ok) but focusing in that way helped me crank out some words. I like it.

Tawna Fenske said...

Sara, isn't it fun? I'll probably take another run at it this evening if you want to play along.

Harley May, I love how you look topless in your photo.

Kelly, agreed, I'm going to credit Patrick's wife with any good ideas he spouts. Aside from marrying him, she sounds like a very wise woman.

Patty, for some reason this current manuscript has been giving me trouble lately, so this 1k1hr thing is a great way to force me to get over myself and just write.

Jen, I've found I do a much better job with 1k1hr when I have at least a vague idea where I might want to go with a scene. Even if I go in an entirely different direction, it helps to have a solid starting point.

Patrick, be sure to add "modesty" to your list of virtues.

Danica, I know there are a lot of variations out there of the 1k1hr concept. Someone recently mentioned something called "write or die," but I haven't checked it out yet.

Dianne, it was fun to have you join in last night. You're with Sourcebooks too, right?

KD, there are times I finish 1k1hr and think, "wow, I just wrote a whole lot of crap." I'm always amazed to go back later and realize that's not the case.

Linda G, it's kind of fun when 1k1hr prompts some random new idea that never would have appeared in the manuscript if you weren't letting your brain run free for an hour. (Er, I'm a little disturbed at the idea of YOU letting your brain run free, but it's a good idea for everyone else).

Izzy, I suffer from EXACTLY the same problem, which is why the 1k1hr thing is so great for me. I'm easily distracted, and not very good at he self-discipline, but 1k1hr forces me to ignore Twitter (mostly) for an hour and just focus on writing. I'm a lot more productive when I'm not stopping & starting all he time.

Marissa, it's new concept to me, too, but I'm totally loving it!

Jeannie, you'll have to play with us sometime! :)

Thanks for reading, guys!

Cara Wallace said...

So that's what that hashtag stands for!

This is a great idea. In my case, because I am (ahem) highly distractible, I would use Write or Die to keep me from flitting off in 1k different directions until my goals were completed.

Cara Wallace said...

Oh look, and you just mentioned WoD! Here's the link:

You enter your time and/or word count goals, and it provides ... feedback if you stop writing. Totally works for me. :)

Cara Wallace said...

Aargh! No, *here's* the link:

Kathryn said...

Oh that'd be great! Just get all those words on paper and see what comes up!

Matthew Rush said...

I can't relate to the people who need to do this. Not that there is anything wrong with it. In fact I wish I struggled to get more words on the page instead of struggling to confine myself to less. I have no problem writing, I've written 10k words in a day before, the problem for me is writing less, and writing the most appropriate thing for the project without describing too much or including too much backstory, subplot, detailed characterization or whatever.

Still sounds like fun for those who need it though!

Lucy Woodhull said...

I'll need to jump into the (writing) orgy this week! Sounds fun.

Elizabeth Ryann said...

Seriously, this is the only thing helping me even come close to my goals lately. I LOVE IT. And I love it more with people. But I'm pretty sure it's impossible for me to do without a few twitter breaks in the hour, which just adds some zest to the time limit as far as I'm concerned.

Mother Hen said...

Fab idea, it never hurts to try something new especially if you can't crank out 10k in a day.
1000 is great and an hour is a gentle goal when there are other things in ones life as well.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Tawna, yes -- I'm with Sourcebooks Fire. Book will be 2 months old tomorrow!

Anybody playing tonight? I've written squat so far today, and I'm not pleased with myself.

Candyland said...

So what you're saying is, no foreplay?

writermomof5 said...

Hey, this is what I do every day! I found my writing time was slowly being chipped away with work and kids and...well, you get the idea.

Now I wake up in the morning before work and write for one hour.

Usually, before I get out of bed, I mull about what I'm going to write, but as soon as I get a cup of coffee, its BIC for one hour and my goal is 1K; There have been days I've gone over and a few days I've gone a little under but I always have positive wordcount, which is nice.

How do you join?

Tawna Fenske said...

Cara, thanks for the Write or Die link! I'll have to try that out sometime!

Kathryn, I just finished editing what I wrote last night during a 1k1hr and I'm pretty impressed at how many new ideas were keepers.

Matthew, I'm a pretty speedy writer myself, but I struggle with wanting to edit as I go. This is a great way to force myself to turn off the internal editor and just go go go. There's always a lot of editing later though :)

Lucy, writing orgy, I love it!

Elizabeth, I'll admit I end up taking quite a few Twitter breaks throughout, just to see how everyone's doing and to cheer people on. That's half the fun!

Mother Hen, that's the thing I love about it -- an hour isn't much of a commitment, so it doesn't seem that overwhelming in light of all the other things you have to accomplish in a day.

Dianne, I haven't checked the hashtag this evening, but I'm betting there were a few people giving it a shot.

Candyland, want me to whisper sweet nothings in your ear to get you started?

writermomof5, are you on Twitter? If so, just check the hashtag or use it to issue your own challenge. I don't think I've ever tweeted about it and not had at least one person offer to join me. Let me know how it goes if you try it!

Thanks for reading, guys!

Claire Dawn said...

Sounds cool!

I'm not on Twitter, but I might have to join soon. I imagine one of my characters is going to use it someday, and I'll need to know what a hashtag is. :(

PS, There's a book I think you'd like up for grabs in the Friday giveaway.

Average Girl said...

I think a lot of times your work comes out better when you just get it down, and stop thinking already. Wine doesn't hurt either.

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steph said...

Love, love, love this. Thanks so much again for sending me the link. I accomplished more this evening doing this little competitive (with myself mostly) thing and I'm feeling fantastic. Really awesome idea to Patrick (and you, Tawna, for sharing this with me today) :)