Jungle Red Writers is the blog of six Sisters in Crime--Rhys Bowen, Jan Brogan, Hallie Ephron, Rosemary Harris, Roberta Isleib and Hank Phillippi Ryan. Earlier this month, Jan Brogan issued a challenge--for six weeks, write a page a day BEFORE you get on the internet. Just one page. Dozens of writers signed up, agreeing to check in at least three times over the next six weeks with their progress. The initial post has 101 comments. The update has over 30 comments, many from inspired writers.
Jan, did you expect this reaction to your challenge?
I actually worried that in August, when so many people are on vacation, that I wouldn't get enough people to even read the post, let alone reply. I was grateful my Blog sisters so eagerly signed up, because at least then, there would be the six of us. I was surprised at the groundswell of other writers, who like me, needed a way to attack their Internet procrastinations.
What made you think of it?
I read about a really cool challenge in the New York Times, it was a fashion challenge: You had to choose six items of clothing -- any six -- and that's all you could wear for a month. (not counting shoes and accessories). A number of women signed on and learned interesting things about their fashion/shopping addictions. I thought -- what kind of challenge would be appropriate to writers? I knew I needed to be more productive and that my biggest enemy was the Internet -- because once I start checking email for the day, it becomes a way to distract myself from a story problem. I chose one page a day because it's doable. There's really no excuse NOT to write one page -- no matter what's going on in your life. And starting is always the hardest problem for me. Once I get going, one page leads to another.
The lazy days of summer are one thing, but do you think the challenge will continue after the six weeks? Are you hoping to inspire new habits?
I'd love it if the challenge continued past the summer. For me, I plan on expanding, rather than stopping my own new, improved habits. Even now, I'm not checking email until after noon. Email and the Internet are incredible time thieves that make you THINK you are working when you are just goofing off.
Have you had any unexpected results from the challenge?
Yes, the enthusiasm and the comments I've gotten -- which have been so terrific. One woman suggested doing the same thing AFTER Lunch. Writing a whole page before you check email again. Hank suggested a Twitter hashtag to search and follow #JRWRITEFIRST, and authors have come to share some of their daily frustrations with me there, as well as with all of us on the blog. I feel like I'm making new friends.
Journalist Jan Brogan is the author of the Hallie Ahern series, set in Providence and the stand alone Final Copy, which won the Drood Review of Mystery’s Editors Choice award. She recently finished a screenplay based on the 1976 Combat Zone murder in Boston which has been accepted by a director. She is currently writing a narrative non-fiction account of the same murder, as well as a comic noir mystery, The Devil In Waverley.
J.A. Hennrikus is a member of the Sisters In Crime Guppy Chapter and on the board of the New England Chapter of Sisters in Crime.