Ten Years of Word Wars
Ten years ago today, I started a “word wars” chat room because I had a book on short deadline and needed people to prod me to get it done. I invited a bunch of my writer friends and hoped it would last six months.
Today is its tenth anniversary. At least half a dozen of the people who started in the war room with me ten years ago are still there, and there are many, many others who joined a little later, or even quite recently, who are in there working daily, encouraging each other, ranting, occasionally–because a fair number of us are professionals–giving master class discussions, and just getting our butts in the chairs and the words on the page. It’s not a critique room, or a workshop space, or any of that. It’s just a work space, and it’s worked really well for us.
We figure at least fifty books have been written in the war room over the past decade. I’ve written twenty-two in there myself. Michelle Sagara’s written at least a dozen. Laura Anne Gilman’s written at least five by her count, and I don’t know how many novellas. Ellen Million, writing as a Zoe Chant, has written a dozen. Robin D. Owens has written I don’t even know how many–six, eight, twelve, somewhere in there. Chrysoula Tzavelas has written, I don’t know, six? Mikaela Lind has written, I don’t know, several, maybe five? Catherine Sharpe’s written at least a couple. Kari Sperring’s written two or three, although maybe only one of them *in* the war room. Hell, that’s over 70 right there, and there are warriors whose book counts I have no clue about at all. It’s very possible there’s been a hundred books written in there over the last ten years.
I honestly never dreamed it would last this long. I’m really proud of our little community of writers. We’re going to have our first real-world meet-up at Dublin 2019, which at least eight of us will be attending, and I cannot WAIT to get a picture of us all together!
Six years ago today I started a writing chat room colloquially known as the War Room. Its purpose was to create a space where the writers I knew could log in and encourage one another to write. The idea is basically a chat room where you don’t chat, you just shut up and write, but in the presence of others, so that there’s some accountability. It’s a way of creating a work environment for a job that often expects you to get it done with nothing but your own self-discipline ruling you. We generally do 30 minute sprints, aka “word wars,” at the end of which we return to report our wordcount, admire one another, stretch a little, and do it again.
I had a book–one of the Walker Papers, maybe DEMON HUNTS–that desperately needed finishing, and I started the war room in the hopes that it would last six months or so, long enough to get through the book, at least, and maybe help a few other writers get through their projects of the moment.
Six months have become six years, and a startling number of the original Word Warriors still log in almost daily. There have been long stretches where I haven’t been able to be in there regularly at all, and it still kept going. We bounced through a bunch of locations before my friend Merlin offered us a Forever Home, and it still held on through all the uncertainty. We have new writers come in regularly, often with an air of excitement.
I’m really proud of the War Room. I’m really happy to have created a virtual place where writers can come to do their work. I’m really grateful to all of the writers who log in, who encourage each other, who share advice and woes, and who (most of the time) shut up and write together.
So Happy Birthday to the War Room, and thank you to Di Francis, Laura Anne Gilman, Michelle Sagara, Mikaela Lind, Karina Sumner-Smith, Chrysoula Tzavelas, Earl Miles, Robin Owens, Patricia Burroughs, and at *least* half a dozen more people I’m forgetting while I’m writing this post, for all of the words and the writing and the wars. I’m so glad you’re in there with me. ♥
a week of work
With the arrival of September and the start of (pre)school, I have gotten more work done in the past week than in the past three months combined. There’s a cafe in the same building as my son’s preschool, so I’ve been dropping him off, walking thirty meters to order a cup of berry tea, and sitting down to write for close to 3 hours. It’s a godsend.
On the second morning, the barista said, dubiously, “Do you *like* the berry tea?” and I cheerfully admitted it was about the only kind of tea I *do* like, as I’m not much of a caffeine drinker. People are always so very amazed when I say I don’t use much in the way of caffeine, as if I must be some kind of genuinely alien being. (It gets worse when I mention I don’t drink much alcohol, either. I’m not a teetotaler but I’m close enough for government work. All of this is not because of some degree of moral superiority but the fact that I don’t like the *taste* of coffee, tea or most alcohol. “You have to develop a taste for it!” people tell me, but I feel that if I have to develop a taste for it I probably shouldn’t be ingesting it in the first place. :))
Anyway. :) The same morning a man in the cafe asked what I was working on. “A book,” I said. “I’m a writer.”
“Oh,” says he, “have you published anything?”
Me: “My 25th novel just came out.”
I admit, I’d really like to be able to answer that kind of question with “Yes, you’ve heard of me,” someday.
(Neil Gaiman got to do that once on an airplane. Little old lady in the seat next to him asked what he did for a living and he said “I write books.” She said, “Oh, how lovely. When will you make the NYT bestseller list?” He said, “Last August.”)
Over on Twitter when I announced my media blackout, fellow writer Adrian Faulkner threw down a September Word War gauntlet and we’re now working to…well. See who can write the most words in September, but it’s not really about winning, just solidarity, so if you need a kick in the pants, join us at #SeptemberWordWar.
Mid-week I caught up on MAGIC & MANNERS to a sufficient degree that although it kind of killed me to do so, I put it aside to start working on my nephew’s book. I’m hopefully halfway through M&M now, although…maybe not. :) And I really, really wish I could just charge ahead with it, but any way I cut it, my nephew’s book has a shorter wordcount to reach finished, and is also almost a year late. So. His book it is.
Except, as it turns out, I have gotten nowhere with his book, except deleting 7500 words and then staring at 10K I threw out a while ago and wondering if maybe that was better after all and finally, slowly and grudgingly, concluding that I may not actually have a plot for this book, which is…pretty depressing…and…yeah. So I have to go find a plot and unless I do it really soon this book’s not going to be done by the end of the month either and just argh.
The Word War Room is three years old today. Since I’d hoped, when I started it, that it would last six months, I’m very proud of it, and I’m still so happy at how many people log in and use it regularly to help them focus and get work done.
If you want to join the war room as a participant, the above link tells you what it is and how it works. You have to join the Toonowrimo community to get the password, which there is a link to on the profile page there. All writers are welcome, and we would be pleased to have you for the next three (or more!) years. :)
This week I have unintentionally but thoroughly proven that I will not get up at 5:30am to exercise. I will just barely get up at that time to write, but if my mental position is that I’m going to get up and exercise rather than that I’m going to get up and write…I stay in bed. The result is I haven’t exercised hardly at all *and* I’m behind on where I want to be with writing. Not massively behind, I still have a couple days to finish the next short story in, but behind. And my red rockabilly dress has arrived at Stage One of its delivery location and is apparently *magnificent*, so having not been exercising or in any way losing weight is depressing. Sigh.
Anyway, so I have to figure the exercise window the hell out, but from Monday I will be turning up in the war room at Oh God Stupid, because it is my hope to write “No Dominion” in the second half of January, and that won’t happen if I don’t bloody well get up and write. Maybe a 5:30am arrival time in the war room will be early enough to catch some Left Coasters who haven’t gone to bed yet…
Man. I’m cranky. *sigh*