Friday, September 26, 2014

How a Writing Marathon Can Impact Your Writing: Part 3 by Marcie Flinchum Atkins

This week I've shared information about hosting a writing marathon for students. But I can't ignore one important thing: how the writing marathon impacted the writers involved.

When people tell me they don't have time to write, I'm amazed. You DO have time. If you have 15 minutes or 30 minutes to spare, you can get something done. You might think you can't get much done in 30 minutes, but 30 minutes adds up over time.

How can a short-term challenge impact your writing?

Challenges provide accountability.
Students expected me to be there to open up the library door for them every morning at 7:30. I was there, with my computer up and ready to write. There is a great energy in knowing that you are not alone and that as you sit and hear other keys tap-tapping, it's motivational.

If you are a teacher, consider writing with your students on a schedule. Don't deviate from the schedule.

If you are a writer, consider meeting up with other writers to write—not talk, but write. If you can't get together in person, set up a date and text each other or Tweet each other when the starting and ending times. Check in together.

Have a plan.
I had to know going into the marathon what I was going to work on. I had an educational related writing project I wanted to work on, so I worked on it every day for the month of February. At the end of the month, I had a proposal, an outline, and several sample chapters.

If you are a teacher, consider working on a project that you haven't had time to do. It can be writing down memories. Just work on something. I shared my project with my students. I didn't read it to them, but I wanted them to know WHAT I was working on.

If you are a writer, consider the project that has been tapping on the back of your brain for awhile. Work on that project 30 minutes a day.

Keep track of your progress.
I made my students keep track, so I kept track too. As writers, we can get bogged down in the mindset that we aren’t making progress. That evil editor whispers in our ears that we can't do it. But if you write down what you did, then you CAN see your progress. I used the same tracking sheet that my students did.

If you are a writer, consider keeping a DONE list. What did you accomplish, no matter how small?
If you are a teacher, I hope this series has given you some food for thought.  I hope that you will consider stretching your students and yourself—to write what you never thought you could.

If you are a writer, I hope that these few students inspire you. If they can write a half hour everyday before school starts, so can you.


  1. Thanks, Marcie, for sharing this! What a great idea... I think I'll borrow it. Writing 26 picture books in a month is beyond me, but writing for 30 minutes a day on a particular project? that's something I can sneak into a lunch break, or early morning before I head to work...

  2. Absolutely! It's amazing what you can get done in 30 min a day!

  3. Marcie, you are, as always, inspiring and organized. I love the tracking calendar and made a copy to get me motivated to write daily - you are dead on- we all have time!

  4. Impressive results and so encouraging to see how much writing can be squeezed out of busy schedules!

  5. It's been a great series Marcie! Love the tracking and ideas you shared. I will be using it for NaNOWRiMo

  6. Great series! Do you have a writing block during your 4th grade day?

  7. Marcie: As an educator and a writer, I appreciate your thoughts and ideas for a Writing Marathon. Thank you. ~Suzy

  8. A simple, effective way to tremendously impact young (and old) writers. This is fantastic! Thank you for sharing it with us.