The idea is simple. Sign up at least a week in advance (pay a small, one time fee of $3 via paypal) and give an estimated guess as to how many pages you can write from Monday to Sunday. It can be as little as 10 pages and as many as you think you're capable of writing. I lowballed my guess by saying 10 pages, but I really had wonderful intentions of blowing that guess out of the water.
On Monday, you start off with a bang and write to your hearts content. It's best to do a little pre-work, figure out where you want to go and then jump in with both feet. By Tuesday morning you need to post to BIAW's forum with your total for Monday... then Tuesday... then Wednesday... You get the picture. At the end of the week you total up and bask in your glory. Or your failure. Mine was somewhere in between. I started the week off strong, but my some medical issues had me flailing about like a fish out of water (please excuse the horrible, overused metaphor).
And just for accountability, here's my total for the week:
Monday: 4 pages
Tuesday: 3 pages
Wednesday: 4 pages
Thursday: 3 pages
Friday: Nada. Nothing. Zilch
Saturday: 1 page.
Sunday: 1 page
Total: 16 pages.
Nothing spectacular as a whole. If I can hold off the family and lock myself away I can do twice that in one day. I've done it before. But this week I just wanted to get the words on the page. And, overall, I'm happy with my 15 pages. I managed a very rough draft of my steampunk. That's pretty good. The downside, I'm struggling with the second chapter and that sucks. Usually, I don't struggle til the end of the third chapter.
Some points I learned along the way:
- Give yourself a map: Nothing huge, just an outline of where you are going with each chapter, scene, whatever. There is a suggestion on the BIAW site that you write a sentence for each chapter with a general direction. I would add that you want to put what you hope to accomplish in that chapter (introduce characters, black moments, etc.).
- Start a folder on your desktop and name a document for each day: Monday writing, Tuesday writing, etc. This will help you keep it separate and to be sure of how much you accomplish each day.
- If you finish with 4 pages and a few lines on the next page (read: 4.25 pages), then take the four and past the .25 into a new document for the next day. (see above comment). This will give your a jumping off point for the next day.
- Resist the urge to edit at all cost. This was the hard thing for me. After I finished the first day I wanted to go back and refine and define some of the points I'd made. The hardest point was to put it off until another day. It's about getting as much on the page as possible.
- And last... don't beat yourself up over not making a goal. It's easy to look at what others have accomplished and belittle your own experiences, but in the end, that's them and you are you. You are accountable to only you. No one else.
So, there's another BIAW in August. Will I be among those participating? Most definitely. Do I think I can do better? Always. But it's the actual act of writing that makes the difference, not trying to hold myself up to unrealistic expectations.