Posted by: Casey Lybrand | July 15, 2010

Writing Progess: Merit Badges and the 1,000 Words a Day Challenge

Confession time! I’ve been having plot challenges, just as the end of the first draft of my WIP is in sight. I’ve been working from an outline, but not adhering rigidly to it… and, well, things have gotten out of hand. I have all my characters almost in place for the grand finale, and I’m not even sure I know where center ring is.

I need to work on this, so I’m reaching for some motivation. This week’s motivational boost is coming from the Merit Badger — as it so often does — and Layla Messner’s 1,000 Words a Day Challenge — which is a new one!

First some merit badges I’ve claimed recently, then I’ll tell you about a badge I have my eye on, and about the writing challenge.

Merit Badger Merit Badges

Let’s start with the easy one:

Feline “Assistance” Badge

Feline "Assistance" Badge by Merit Badger

Feline "Assistance" Badge by Merit Badger

Had to snag the Feline “Assistance” Badge. Sure, I could write without my cats, but why would I want to?

Don’t I have a picture of one of my feline assistants around here somewhere? Yes, here it is!
Crashy the Computer

Crashy the Computer with Her Friend, Bitey the Cat

Here’s Bitey, off to the side, next to the laptop. Pretty sure in this shot he’s moments away from either biting me or leaping up to pounce on the other cat. Either way, that’s just like helping, right? (It’s okay, Bitey. I love you anyway. So does the other cat.)


Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard Badge by Merit Badger

Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard Badge by Merit Badger

Don’t you just love that acronym? When I sound it out, it brings out my inner-twelve-year-old. Hee!

Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard is the way to go. I have forced myself to write many times in the past few weeks, including today. I feel comfortable claiming this one, and I am making a commitment to re-claim it as needed.

Research Badge

This one is both a blessing and a curse. I love research. I love reading well-researched books, and I aim to write one myself. I think, though, that part of my plot problem emerges from my research.

Research Badge by Merit Badger

Research Badge by Merit Badger

I’ve played fast and loose with my outline is because things emerge during the writing. And I want them to. I realize as I’m writing along — “Aha! The world would work this way!” or “No, I think it’s more likely that they would react like that, instead.” Those realizations are based on the research, much of it into how societies and people work, which I am using to inform my world and my story. And that’s all well and good. But did I mention going off my outline, and having plot issues now? Yeah.

There are many, many ways to wind up with plot problems — probably as many as there are writers. This is just my own particular path, this particular time. *Shakes fist* “Research! This is all your fault!” Okay, so not really. I’m claiming the badge, too.

The Badges I’m After

What I need to earn is the Painting Yourself Out of a Corner Badge. That should get me to the Finished First Draft Badge as well. And how, exactly, am I going to paint my way out of the corner and finish up the first draft?

1,000 Words a Day

Layla Messner’s 1,000 Words a Day for a Month Challenge! Here’s what Layla said yesterday about her plan to write 1,000 words of creative writing (email, twitter, and blogging don’t count) each and every day for a month:

Today, July 14 through August 13, 2010, I commit to writing (at least) 1000 words a day.

Simple enough, right? It’s a great goal! With all goals, the real trick is the follow-through. Layla has opened this challenge to any writers who want to join in. Go over to her 1,000 Words a Day for a Month Challenge for more details about her approach to this challenge and to learn how to put a progress bar on your blog to track your words. Here’s what my bar looks like today: [*]

The bar on this post will stay at 2,000 to document my progress as of today. There is also a progress bar on my sidebar, which I will update daily. (Between the Merit Badger Merit Badges and the Links.)

Layla encourages making this goal your own. More or fewer words, for example. Here are the details on what I’m committing to:

  1. I will write 1,000 words of creative writing every day for a month, from July 14 through August 13. (So far, so good!) I will make every effort to write those 1,000 words for my novel until the first draft is complete. On days I don’t write for my novel — or if I finish the first draft before the 31 days are up — I will still write 1,000 words of creative writing for something (such as a short story).

  2. Throughout this challenge or until my first draft is finished, any day the 1,000 words I write are not for my novel, I will spend one hour that day working on my plot issues. (Outlining, brainstorming, writing story notes: whatever it takes.) This will be in addition to the thousand words of creative writing in another work. I’m starting this one today, as I jumped into Layla’s challenge rather late in the day yesterday. This part of my personal challenge will wrap up August 14 or when I have a finished draft of my novel, whichever comes first.

Wish me luck! Anyone else want to join in?

And, wait. Did I write a huge long post with no footnotes whatsoever? Must be having an off day. I’ll try harder next time!

* UPDATE: Well what do you know, looks like there was a footnote lurking about after all. Here it is: I *think* having a bar in this post was interfering with my blog feed, so I’m taking it out for now. If the feed improves, I’ll leave it out; if it doesn’t I’ll put it back and try something else! The progress bars on my sidebar seem to be okay.


  1. Yay! Come join the challenge people (it doesn’t have to be 1K wds/day. Choose you own challenge.

  2. Layla, thank you for setting up this wonderful challenge! I love that it doesn’t have to be 1,000 words/day, but that we commit to meaningful challenges for ourselves.

  3. Ah Casey, how clever and wise of you to do an outline of your plot early on. I didn’t and I ended up with a huge mess that I am only just now managing to sort out.

    Will definitely join the 1000 word thing when I am properly writing, sitting here editing is not quite the same so I could not measure in words but challenges are always good.

    Glad Bitey the cat is helping you along. We need them clever felines to inspire us. Mine are found everywhere, maybe they feel sorry for me since I cannot have one at home because of my allergies.

    Here’s wishing you a Happy Friday…I’m off to edit with my boy for a few hours.

  4. Just thought I would come from the Merit Blog and say Good Luck!

  5. Alannah, outlining is a new strategy for me for creative writing. Have I mentioned I have novels in the drawer? This WIP is novel number four, and I wanted to try something different. Using an outline is working much better for me than just barreling forth — however, I take a rather loose approach to using it. Writing is such a personal process. It’s whatever works for a particular writer. And doesn’t it seem like we all end up in that “this is such a mess” place at some point? I’m (mostly) ignoring my mess until it’s time to edit!

    I will be so happy when you join the challenge! It’s something I plan to do again, though I may take a tiny break between challenges.

    Bitey and Princess keep me going. Sometimes we need companionship which is quiet and undemanding.

    Good luck with your editing! I hope it has been a Happy Friday for you as well!

    DQuartermane, thank you so much! Best of luck to you, as well, with your writing endeavors!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: