The Writing Contract

Part of the reason NaNoWriMo works so well is because it creates a temporary contract between a writer and the rest of the world. As a writer, you commit to getting 50,000 words down on paper/screen and you feel accountable for ensuring that this actually happens over the month of November. I also came across this blog post, where two writers have created a contract with one another, a good example of how this might work outside of NaNoWriMo. 

Would you write more with a contract?

Would you write more with a contract?

The one thing that November is teaching me is how much I can actually achieve in just thirty days provided I am motivated, supported and dedicated. The camaraderie NaNoWriMo fosters encourages us to write as a community – knowing that we aren’t alone in thrashing out those words and doubting our skills as a writer. That’s why the NaNoWriMo contract, in part, mentions how you need to allow yourself to write badly in order to get that first draft out of the way. Whatever happens, just keep writing. Terms and conditions allow you to have some terrible phrases and sentences, a few erroneous characters and plot points and possibly a very random middle section!

As these are accepted within the contract there is a certain sense of freedom about it. Which is perhaps why it doesn’t feel much like a contract. It is, in actuality, more like a challenge – but we commit ourselves to it and feel suitably bereft if we fail to meet the minimum word count each day, week or at the end of the month.

As a result, I’m wondering if writing contracts might work outside of November. While Connor and Margo from the previous link, have created a contract with one another, I think I may look into forming a contract for myself in 2014. Every year I look forward to NaNoWriMo as an opportunity to explore a brand new novel concept. However, outside of this I am not particularly productive. NaNo #1 is hardly revised and I don’t feel I’m experimenting with new ideas through short stories enough. 

It’s certainly something to think about. Most definitely something to keep in mind; it’s a simple fact that during the week in my two ‘writing days’ I’ve been whirring out around 3,000 words per day for NaNoWriMo, and in most cases repeating this during the weekend. In addition, I’ve not found it oppressing or difficult or laborious. It’s about knowing I’m expected to do it. That if I don’t do it, I’m letting myself down, that I’m not going to be able to increase my word count and make that target. 

So, if it can work through November, why can’t it work out this way the rest of the year? If formalising my intentions through a contract will help me feel accountable, why not try it? It’s an interesting concept, and one I hope to explore once I’ve completed my NaNo #3 novel (which will take me until Christmas, I’m sure!). 

As a final point, it is worth keeping in mind that, if I want to be a successful published author I will have to write to deadlines at some point. Therefore, writing contracts will only become a regular feature of my potential career; so why not introduce them sooner rather than later?

~~~

What do you think? Could a writing contract help you achieve your writing dreams?

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5 responses to “The Writing Contract

  1. Pingback: Take Heed and ‘Don’t Give Up’ | Cat Lumb: The Struggle to be a Writer

  2. I don’t know if a contract with myself would work as well as NaNo does. There is too many opportunities to just let is slide. After all, nobody is holding you accountable but you. But finding a writing buddy and creating a contract like the one you mentioned in the post, that would work. That way you keep each other in line.

  3. I think the idea of a contract is great even if it is just a contract with yourself. I do think that competition tends to be a bigger kick in the rear than obligation which is probably why NanoWrimo works so well… it’s a challenge, yes, but there’s also that hint of competition. That made me stay in this year’s NanoWrimo as long as I did (longer than I should’ve now that I’m objective about it)

  4. Having a contract is a good idea to enforce writing – IF you don’t write as often as you would like. It would be brilliant for me, but you write tons anyway Cat (when your M.E. allows) and I’m not sure a contract would focus you in the way NaNo does (where you’re committed to 50,000 words of the same project).

    The ‘contract’ we had in NaNo 2012 was one of the best writing tools I’ve ever had (you shouting: “Write!! Write!!” at me).

    • Haha, you know I miss shouting at you to write!
      I think you’re right on the writing front – I do write a lot. But, I hardly edit or revise my work and I’m thinking about a contract focused on getting me motivated to improve my writing to get it to publishable standards.
      NaNo is great for focus, I just feel I need to find a way to extend that into other aspects of my writing.
      Thanks for reading, and reminding me of the good ol’ times of last year. 🙂
      Appreciate your comment. Take Care, Cat x

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