What I learned from Word Wars

I’m one of those people who likes to watch first, figure it out, and then try it. So when I was at my first “real” Write-In, they declared a Word War, and I was like, ummm…no, not participating. I wasn’t sure what it was. A vocabulary game? I suck at games. Then they started this timer and everyone starts typing and I’m suddenly like, Oh Hey! I can do that!

I didn’t bring my computer. I don’t have a laptop. See, it was a bit of a gamble for me to show up to a Write-In without knowing anything about it, despite having participated in NaNoWriMo at home for two years. I did bring my notebook and a fresh pen, which was a very good thing. I was in the middle of a scene, anyways, and I wanted to finish it. When the Word War was declared, I was just finishing a section where the main character, a castle servant named Belle, gets caught listening in on a conversation between the king and a diplomat she’s been assigned to serve.

With a Word War, you pound out as many words as you can, as fast as you can. This means that whatever pops into your head, you jot down. There’s no room, no time to censor yourself. You just go with it. It’s the Ultimate Frisbee version of freewrites. Some of the stuff that came out of that Word War was awesome. I’m terrible about censoring myself. Truly.  When my husband gets me drunk and my mouth starts to keep pace with my brain (easier to do when it’s sluggish), he can’t believe some of the stuff that I think. Some is all cool and sage-like. Some is laughable. And about 10% of it has the “…um, right, what the heck was that, where did it come from, and please don’t confuse me any further” response. My point is, I’m pretty good at catching that last segment and keeping it in my head–but in the process I also filter out things that I could use.

So, I actually ended up with a lot of useable material out of the Word War. I’m adding it to my mental list of writing techniques.

The winner of our Word War did so with 1,100 words. Not sure how many minutes it was in. 10 or 15 I would guess. Another person said they had 650 or so. I was handwriting, so by the time I counted up my words, everyone else had kind of moved on, which was fine, I knew it was no where near 1,100 words.

My end-count? 568 words. Not too shabby. Even better, best in my mind, was that it gave me a good average of how many words I can write on a page, and it gave me about 500 words which were something I could actually use. But the best part about it all? Certainly the knowledge that when I next get stuck, I’m going to set a timer and make myself race. See what comes out of it.

Till Later,



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