Writing with Friends: the 85K Challenge

Writing is a solitary activity, but we don’t have to do it alone. I exchange 25 pages a month with a critique partner—a goal that motivates me to get scenes out of my head and onto the page. It’s a great relationship (every author needs a critique partner or writing group—just saying!), but in addition to our exchange, for 2019 I’ve signed up for…

85K90 logo

The 85K writing challenge: write 85,000 words in the first 90 days of the year. That’s approximately 1,000 words a day. Sounds daunting, but like I said in my October post, it’s only 4 double-spaced pages. Piece of cake. And the words don’t have to be beautiful. They just have to be out of my head. Later, I can pretty ’em up.

Unlike NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, which takes place in November, the 85K90 challenge continues through the year, encouraging writers to edit and revise after finishing the first draft.

Julie ValerieJulie Valerie, the founder of @85K90, says, “Our goal is to write 85,000 words in 90 days every January, February, and March.

“Our mission is to embrace the writing life throughout the year by advancing the practice of productive writing from the first word to the first reader. Writers who follow the five productivity cycles embedded in our 12-month calendar can easily produce one novel per year.

85K Year At a Glance“Productivity cycles include the initial 90-Day Write followed by the 60-Day Edit, 60-Day Prep, 60-Day Publish, and three 30-Day Finish cycles strategically placed throughout the year.

On our website, we offer:

  • a WriterStat Project Tracker for tracking your words,
  • a Working Title on the 85K Writing Challenge podcast series produced by author J.P. Cane,
  • Monday and Friday Word Count Reports,
  • Genre Tribes,
  • Accountability Partners,
  • a forum,
  • blog posts,
  • a vibrant membership platform
  • and much, much more.”

Sounds to me like @85K90 is exactly what I need!

So… won’t you sign up with me? Think of it as a gift to yourself. Come write “like your fingers are on fire” (as my Vermont College mentor, Kathi Appelt, used to say). Track your progress, and we’ll cheer each other on.

I’m looking forward to a fabulous new year!

12 thoughts on “Writing with Friends: the 85K Challenge”

  1. Thinking about it. But I’m editing a manuscript, querying another and have a half-written memoir. Don’t know that it’ll fit your structure. It’s a good idea!.

  2. You might-could use the challenge to finish a draft of the memoir you’re working on! What you write is up to you. Since I love writing for young readers (for whom books are generally shorter than 85K), I hope to draft two middle-grade novels in 2019. I’m already part way into both.

    My plan is to get my 1,000 words in by 9:00AM each day. (10:00 at the latest.) Then I can go about the 1,000 other things on my plate…

  3. Wow! Good luck to you! Though I’ll be working on a middle grade novel, I can’t commit to the challenge, because I’ll have to set it aside from time to time to coach a writer through her nonfiction book (already contracted by a publisher; I’m editing it also). I can’t count that as part of the writing challenge.

  4. Well, darn. I guess you’re right — you can’t count THAT as part of your 85K. Maybe next year, yes? If this works for me, I’m going to turn it into an annual thing. Happy writing!

  5. This sounds like fun, though I suppose I’ll have to adapt it to a verse novel. One poem a day? Anyway, I have about 100 pages to go, or 40-50 poems until I’m done with the first draft, though I’ve been revising as I go along.

  6. Oooohhh, a verse novel would be so many fewer words… and (for me) much, much harder to write! The 85K goal probably wouldn’t make any sense, or — as you say — you’d have to adjust your goals. Drafting one poem a day (or two a day?) instead of 1,000 words might work.

    I love that your current project is a verse novel. I don’t think or write in poetic forms, but I do make a point of reading my drafts out loud (late in the revision stage) and listening to the cadence, flow, and word choice. I edit a lot, based on what I hear, but I’d never call it poetic (and it’s not meant to be). Writing in verse is a real challenge — a fine art! I imagine you’re enjoying the process. I know I’ll enjoy reading it, once your verse novel is done!

  7. Thank you so much for sharing the 85K Writing Challenge with your readers! I’m so flattered and so very touched. Thank you. And I can’t wait to write with you! 2019 is going to be a great year. One novel a year. Slow and steady, step by step. That’s the goal. 🙂

  8. I’m thrilled that you designed the 85K challenge to encourage writing during January, February and March. For years, those 3 months have been particularly good months for me to draft new material — unlike November when I tend to have too much going on. I’m excited about the projects I plan to tackle in 2019, and looking forward to @85K90 folks holding me accountable. I love the slow and steady, step by step approach. Happy New Year!

  9. The 85K Writing Challenge is a wonderful structure, especially for anyone who finds November a bit too crazy to attempt a whole draft. The 85K pace is much more measured, and Julie is an inspiration to the group. Hope you love it!

  10. Thank you for the encouragement, Pauline! In anticipation of starting the 85K challenge on Jan. 1, this week I’ve been trying to write 1,000 words each morning before 9:00 AM. Well. I haven’t quite made THAT deadline. But I have managed to hit 1,000 words by 10:00 AM, and at the latest, 11:00 AM. The push to hit 1,000 has made me loosen up and not edit myself. When it comes to writing first drafts (which is where I am right now), I LOVE this challenge. I’m not sure what will happen in April and the rest of 2019, but I’ll cross that bridge when the time comes! I’m looking forward to connecting with the whole 85K community…

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