In 1990, comic creator Scott McCloud dared a friend to construct a 24-page comic in 24 hours. This included all the drafting, sketching, plotting, drawing, and finishing touches–if you’ve never seen the process of making a comic, let me tell you, it is a lot of work. Today, twenty-three years later, inspired by this crazy endeavor, writers and artists around the world embark on the 24-hour Comic Day every October. The dare even sparked other 24-hour sprints including the 24-hour play and the 48-hour film festival.
Randi, who is working on a graphic short story, told me about the event over dinner one night. “I’m thinking about doing this,” she said, and I thought she was crazy. I thought, typical Randi to want to do something so taxing on both the mind and the body. I thought, there is no way I would ever do anything like that.
And then, this past week, I had my my fear of finishing panic attack, which I posted about this past Wednesday. That post was probably the most important thing I wrote this month. Learning that I was not alone in freezing up at the end of a project has helped me to feel more confident that I will get there if I keep going. It is amazing what the act of knowing that you are not alone can do (so thank you, friends, for taking this journey with me). And yet, in the back of my mind, I wonder if there is another approach. What if, rather than waiting for another panic attack, I go for an all-out, Olympic-Gold-style sprint to the finish?
What am I talking about? The 24-hour Writer’s March finale. That thing I had thought I would never do? That write for 24 hours thing? I decided to do it. Randi is doing it, too. And today, three days from the end of this March, I’m also inviting you.
Now, hold up. Before you think I’m completely and totally nuts, give yourself a second to think it through before you talk yourself out of it. Where are you in your goals? Have you reached them yet? Are you close? I was charged with finishing this final revision to my book, and I am so close I can taste it, but I know there is a lot of work left to do, and I am running out of time. I average 3 hours of writing a day. In 24 hours, that’s at least 8 more days of work. If I take into account that the first of those three hours is usually spent trying to get into a good rhythm, the 8 days stretches longer. If I add in the distractions of life, particularly with the official March being over, plus the possibility of another few days of frozen horror, suddenly, I’m looking at 2-3 weeks, maybe 2-3 months, which I don’t have. I want to be done with this book, and I think I can get it done in one, all-out, crazy 24-hour sprint.
Maybe you aren’t as motivated as I am. Maybe you think, the way I did, that this is insane. But in the last two years that I’ve done this March, the end of the month has gone the same: I slow down. I see the end coming. I feel tired. I slack off. I feel so proud of the work that I accomplished that I think its okay that I didn’t quite meet all of my goals–and it is. I truly believe that any word you have written because of this March is an accomplishment, particularly if you wouldn’t have written it . And yet, at least for me, I still wonder what might happen if I pushed myself a little more. This go-around, I’m not going to do that. Instead of letting up, I’m going to press harder.
Are you with me?
If so, stock up your refrigerators. Buy sandwich fixings, bottles of water, protein-heavy snacks. Randi and I are starting at 8am on Saturday morning and writing clear through to 8am on Easter Sunday. Let me know if you want to do this, too! Shoot me an email or write a comment to this post!
If you aren’t, I invite you to still push yourself. Instead of the hour a day, might you make it two? Or three? Or four? What’s the longest you’ve ever written in one stretch? What about trying to see if you can beat your own record? Until this moment in time, I have been an advocate for doing what you can, even if it was only fifteen minutes. Here, at the end, I urge you to push yourself further.
Three days left to go. Thank you, friends, for writing with me this month and following along with the blog. I look forward to writing you a farewell post from my sleep-deprived delirium on Sunday morning. Until then, keep marching.