Six years ago I had made up my mind that I was going to write. I grabbed my laptop and I worded as many words as I could. It felt GREAT and it was amazing. The only problem was, I have ADHD. My hyperfocus kicked into hyperdrive and all I did was sit in front of my laptop wording those words. My dishes sat undone, my bathroom looked like a bomb had gone off in it, and my body was starting to smell a bit. At one point I looked up from my writing and looked around and I was appalled at myself. Instead of spurring into action to correct the mess, I sat and had a good cry. I didn’t know where to start so it was easier to bawl about it than to pick a spot and go from there.
In my efforts to find where I could start pulling myself together and getting my house cleaned but still write I came across a website called FlyLady. Her posts were inspirational; she didn’t want me to feel like this. She told me that I wasn’t behind that I could just jump in where ever and it would be helpful to me. Her philosophy was you can do ANYTHING in fifteen minutes. Of course, that didn’t mean that my house would be spic and span in fifteen minutes but I could work on it for fifteen minutes and have it look much better than it had. She was right. Several series of setting a timer for fifteen minutes and my kitchen, bathroom, even my body were all clean as a whistle. It felt amazing.
But my writing suffered. Which made me feel like all I was doing was cleaning my house and not writing a single word. How could I balance all of this and not feel like I failed on one front or another? Fifteen minutes isn’t a decent enough span to be able to word my words. Fifteen minutes for writing is nothing.
I racked my brain for weeks, my house stayed clean but my word docs stayed empty. Wait! What if I combine TWO fifteen minute sessions? I could write for thirty minutes and actually feel like I’d written something. For the other thirty minutes I could set a timer for fifteen minutes and do something in the house. I felt amazing again. Now I can write and keep my house clean and it catered to my ADHD ways because I wasn’t forced to do just ONE thing all day.
I worded so many words. My fingers flew over the keyboard and my kitchen sink stayed empty and clean. But I was lonely. So many other people were writing together, they had people to push them along. I wanted and needed that. I took it to Twitter. I asked people if they wanted to try my method of writing, to write for thirty minutes and take a break for thirty minutes. I reassured everyone that it was so much more productive than it sounded. People tried it and they LIKED it.
My friend Alice M. (@notveryalice on Twitter) dubbed the process #wordmongering. She showed me that by giving it a hashtag everyone could meet in one place and share their progress. I loved it. I embraced it. I made rules!
Rules? Yes, every good system needs rules. #wordmongering needed something to help us writers stay on track and stay positive about our progress. My rules were simple (they still are). There’s no “only” in #wordmongering. When you report your word count to the rest of the Mongerers (the name given to those that do #wordmongering) don’t diminish what you accomplished by saying “I ONLY got this many words.” I found the hardest thing a writer could do was to plop their butt in the seat and actually WRITE. So my motto was (and still is) ANY words worded in that half hour is more words than you had a half hour ago. We celebrate any and all word counts. The other rule was that we had to be positive about our progress. (Yes, sort of redundant considering the “no only” rule, but you’d be surprised how it was needed.) As writers we have enough negative voices in our heads and outside of ourselves being negative about what we do…make #wordmongering a positive experience.
It caught on. People loved knowing that there was a group of people out there ready to throw sparkly purple virtual confetti for your every word goal accomplishment. One mother told me it helped her with her own ADHD child because she was able to give him a time frame that she would be done. She could tell him “I’m #wordmongering now, but at the :30 I will be able to pay attention to what you want me to.” She was able to put down more words. Nothing felt better than knowing that I helped a parent with a child that has my own disorder.
The positivity helped keep writers coming back day after day. Sometimes the only words they wrote were during a couple of #wordmongering sessions. But they told me that if it hadn’t been for our virtual sparkly purple confetti (OK…most times it was a generic “confetti”, but sparkly purple is my favorite so I always use it) it would have felt just like any other word sprint. They thrived on seeing others cheer for their words. They pushed themselves to make more words than they did that last half hour sprint. The positivity grew and nearly took on a life of its own. It was infectious.
If you see the hashtag on Twitter, don’t be shy. Come and say “Hi!” to us. We welcome any and all writers. Genre isn’t important; words are all that’s important. Maybe #wordmongering is just what you need to keep writing. It certainly saved MY writing.
Monica-Marie Vincent writes Young Adult novels about troubled teens and even more troubled parents. She currently lives in Sacramento, CA although she would rather be in her home town of San Francisco. Thanks to her very put upon husband Monica-Marie is always well stocked with coffee, Diet Coke, and Cheddar Jalapeno Cheetos, so she wouldn’t have to move away from her writerly lair to do mundane things like shopping.