Interview with Jessica Trapp

Tired of overachievers beating down your psyche by telling you how they whipped out a book in two weeks? Historical (and hysterical) romance author Jessica Trapp, has a great solution for the mortals among us.

BtO: Welcome, Jessica, and could you first tell us about SLOW?

Jessica: LOL! S.L.O.W. stands for Snail-paced League of Ornery Writers. A couple of friends and I were having lunch together, moaning and groaning about how that whole book in a month or week (What's next? A book in 24 hours?) makes us want to hurl to even think about. All of us took a long time to get the words on the page and found the process of writing tedious and grueling. We decided to start our own club to console ourselves. In our club nobody could brag about writing 70 pages in a day or some other such insanity. Mostly our meetings include very important, extremely organized and high-falootin' ideas and plans like, "Hey, I'm free today, you wanna go to lunch?" Although lately I've been trying to gather votes to be elected evil queen of the galaxy.

BtO: Now let's talk about your 100 word challenge group. Where did you get the idea?

Jessica: At lunch (Again! Why do so many great ideas happen over lunch?) Heather McAllister told us about a challenge loop she was on with a similar goal. It sounded cool... I ran with it.

BtO: What are the rules?

1. The challenge is to write 100 words a day on the work-in-progress for 100 days in a row. They can be at the end of the manuscript or in the middle of it or wherever. Just 100 words. That's like... 10 lines. We don't count writing-related writing like query letters, cover copy, character charts, etc, but I guess if that's REALLY where someone was at, then they might could count it, as long as they are not demoralizing the rest of the gang by bragging about how they are flaunting the rules. I think people have a pretty clear view of when they are cheating and when they are giving it their best shot. I mean... I tell them they can't count it, but I'm not going to anyone's house to grade their homework. LOL!!!

2. NO BRAGGING. No mentioning word count or page count. I am really grouchy about this. If anyone writes more than 100 words, they put a + a leave it at that. I (for one) was sick and tired of being on challenge loops that were more demoralizing than empowering. I wanted something more supportive--a place to celebrate the little victories and moan about the hardships.

BtO: Have there been any surprises as the challenge has unfolded?

Jessica: Tons!

First, I was really surprised by how many people wanted to join. I though there would be maybe 4 or 5 of us, but the group filled up in a hurry and, even then, folks kept emailing me. I finally started a second loop... and it's full now too!

Second, the challenge is harder than it seems at first glace. It forced me to examine all my little excuses about why I couldn't write today, right now, on the back of a napkin if I had to. There are no excuses and no time off for good behavior. Just because I wrote 5 pages yesterday doesn't mean that I don't have to write today.

Third, I found that once I sat down to write, some days the words just flow and I look up and 10 pages have whizzed by, other days I am grunting out every, single, nitpicking, horrid, hideous word. And you never know what kind of day it's going to be until you show up at the page.

I could go on, but I guess that's enough for now.

BtO: Am I going to get kicked out for repeatedly falling off the wagon? (Though I did make it to day 63 while on my most recent deadline!)

Jessica: Nope. Just start over when you can. The group is to support each other, not to beat each other up. I think the biggest thing many of us have learned is more about our own writing process.

I finished my book early, too, and then I really noticed how much I wanted to have one day a week free from writing. So, next challenge, I'm going to set up different parameters for myself based on what I've learned. Other people finished 100 days and just kept counting. Each of us has our own unique way of approaching writing and discovering our own truths are priceless. One truth people may even discover is that, while this is a good challenge, it isn't the challenge for them. And that's okay too.

BtO: Is your group currently accepting new members?

Jessica: Not right now. But, the idea is free and open to anyone. Maybe people could start their own loop.

BtO: Any suggestions as to how people might set up their own challenge groups?

Jessica: Even though the loop is closed, the list of guidelines for my group is on the home page. I guess I'd tell them to have fun.

BtO: Thanks so much for stopping by. I think the 100 Word Challenge is a great survival strategy for writers at all levels. And I hope BtO readers will check out Jessica's latest historical romance, Master of Desire (insert link, Amazon).


Tambra said…
Hi Colleen,
As a member of S.L.O.W. I joined for comraderie and safe haven the group provides.
Before I joined I was writing every day, but I felt somehow less of a writer because I can't whip out 10-20 pages a day.

Jessica's group made me feel like it was okay not write fast as long as I was writing. You mentioned each day was different and I've found that to be true for me. It really is wonderful having a group that won't make you feel like sludge because you had to start over. LOL

Thanks, Jessica for starting the group!

w/a Tambra Kendall
Lark said…
Hi Colleen,

I'm in Jessica's second group and this has been a fun way for me to make myself open the file and pound out a few paragraphs every single day. I told my husband I committed to write 100 words each day and now he gives me an hour of peace and quiet not knowing just how long the 100 words takes or how much of a page it really is. No way I'm cluing him in.

The other great thing about the group is Jes said they don't have to be great words or even good words. Some days when I'm struggling, I have a hard time accepting that I'll probably have to re-write so I stop. With permission to write less than brilliantly, I'm actually blowing through obstacles, feeling I've accomplished a goal even if I have to go back and work on that bit again later.

So thanks to Jes for helping me start a great habit for a change.

Jo Anne said…
I'm a charter member of S.L.O.W. and was there for its inception. We crowned Jes Prez that day (of course now she wants to be the Evil Queen). Since starting the challenge, I've found I'm not quite as slow as I thought I was. Writing every day keeps me in touch with the story and with the characters - and 100 words becomes 200 or 300 or . . .

I'm one who got to 100 days, and just kept on going.

Thanks, Jes. This has been a very good thing for both me and for my writing.
Jo Anne

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