Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Four Lessons from Round 2 . . .

For those of you who've been inspired by ROW80 for a while, these ideas may already be engrained in your writing practice. This last round has been humbling, for while I've worked "hard," as I looked over the goals I set back in April, I see how much drift occurred. Not many of my original goals have been met. So here are my hard-won lessons that will (I hope) lead me forward in Round 3.

#1 Simplify . . . OBJECTIVES.

This last round, I've been confronted by long "to do" lists related to my writing projects. The more I've tried to identify what to do next, the longer the list becomes -- writing, research, marketing, and working on craft.  I do make progress in all categories in some looping, intuitive way, but sometimes I feel scattered and easily distracted from what I want to achieve.

So, to move forward, if I can be disciplined enough to SIMPLIFY my OBJECTIVES, they will be clearer. I won't get lost in details. My weekly goals, what I need to do to reach those objectives, will be clearer.

#2 Clarify . . . MEASURABLE GOALS.

My next step is to be quite clear about exactly what I need to do and how I will measure progress.

In other words, saying I will complete revisions on my current wip is a very big and measurable goal. Either I'm done with revision or revision continues. But what I found in Round 2 is that my sense of what needs revision keeps changing. For me, a more measurable goal would be: Work 2 hours a day on revising my wip to complete all revisions by June 30.

#3 Prioritize . . . EACH WEEK

I have appreciated the welcoming and non-judgmental tone that ROW80 sets. For sure, I can be very critical of my work and of my progress. This is the writing group that recognizes real life can get in the way of the writing -- and yet reminds us we are accountable week by week for reaching those goals we have set.

As I read what others have achieved (and what they are wrestling with as writers), I sometimes smile and sometimes feel sad. But I'm always inspired. Keeping that commitment to myself to report each week means re-assessing, thinking about what worked last week and what didn't, what got done -- and what didn't.

It's OK to be flexible . . . IF I remember the 'big picture'

#4 Visualize . . . THE FUTURE.

I'm learning that ROW80 is good for my writing because it keeps me accountable day by day and week by week, BUT I'm also learning that my weekly goals shift around the moment, keeping me rather stuck in the present.

That takes me right back those OBJECTIVES. What do I really want to accomplish long term as a writer? I know it so well that it could be tattooed on my forehead. And you do too.

What have you learned from this second round of ROW80?

What would you add to my list -- or take away?

May you find rest and balance in these few days off and come back refreshed for Round 3.

Giraffes wild and free,
on the Serengheti Plain, Tanzania (Camp 2012)


  1. I think that we're all a little different. Word counts and hours spent writing don't work for me, but they do for others. This round I found that breaking my writing goals into smaller steps helped me stay focused. Having 'I'm going to edit this section' instead of the whole WIP turned out to make sense and it sure felt good when I could check something off.

  2. Thank you, Ann, for commenting. Yes, absolutely, breaking the task down always helps me deal with the endless 'to-do' list. My challenge in revision, though, is feeling I've made progress. So far, as I've "finished" each section, I've gained new insights and need to go back -- again. I think I'm on the 8th or 10th revision of Section 1. And still have miles to go before I sleep! I don't want to be one of those writers who agonize endlessly. But so far . . .

  3. I can certainly relate to those long to-do lists. The project file (in Scrivener) for my novel-in-progress is full of so many notes and things I have to look up or figure out that I don't know where to start. Somewhere, I guess.

    For me, I've learned (and will probably need to keep learning) that it's good to have a big picture goal, but I have to focus on one small step at a time. If I look at all of them at once I freak out about how much I have to do and go watch TV instead. So, baby steps. :)

    1. Thanks for your note. I can't use Scrivener for some reason, though it looks awfully appealing for all those features. But I wish you well with it. So far, every time I've used it, some thing major gets lost. I appreciate your insight here about taking one step at a time. That strategy keeps me working on marketing -- which has so many steps, so many different recommendations of actions we writers 'should' do. Yes, I'd rather watch TV than do marketing!

  4. Wow. You said everything I've been thinking. I am applying this all to Round 3 for sure.

    1. Thank you, Tia, for commenting. We will both be back for Round 3, hopefully still learning more ways to strengthen our craft and continue writing our stories.

  5. I would add, "Trust yourself".

    That's been key, for me. Trusting those days when I never really get into the writing, because I am reading, watching TV, visiting friends....

    And the days when the wprds pour out of me with a will of their own...

    And all the in-between, some of this and some of that days, too...

    Trusting myself to chart a course, drift away, reassess, maybe make course corrections, and maybe not, because the new direction suits me better...

    I added long-term goals and bi-weekly (or so) posted evaluations this round, which gave me lots of room for honest adjustments. I liked it so well I will be continuing in that vein, this round, breaking the long-term goals into smaller bits, and adjusting as indicated.

    I may not do everything in my original post, but I've always fancied the journey at least as much as the destination, so I trust it will all work out, eventually, so long as I hold to my purpose.

    This is a lovely post. See you soon! =)

    1. Hi, Shan. Thank you for reminding me that it's the journey above all. Writers have to have those proverbial thick skins as we face rejection nearly every day -- from others and from within our own selves. Before ROW80, I didn't think about setting goals very much, just wrote from day to day to somewhat amorphous goals. The story that is complete doesn't really reflect what we've put into it, and that story may not be successful in reaching our readers exactly the way we'd like. But there's always the blank page and the new page for the next story. So lessons learned from these comments = baby steps and trust the journey. Thank you!

  6. Hi Beth! For the first lesson - simplify objectives - I think that having a dedicated notebook for tasks is a handy tool. Jot down everything you think of, but then triage them into some sort of time category or level of importance, because a lot of tasks would make anyone feel scattered and ungrounded. I've been there! And having a list of 3 MITs (Most Important Things) per day is a good number to aim for (for me, anyway).

    And something I've learned during the last round is that there is a time and place for the logical, rational mind but it's important to quieten the mind and let the bigger picture come into focus. This round I'm going to be making sure I relax, and possibly meditate, before I sit down to write. It was too much thinking that backed me into a state where I couldn't write any more, and I don't want to go there again. :)

    All the best in Round 3!

    1. Hello, Lisa. I too keep that little 5x7 spiral notebook to jot today's tasks. I really like your idea of highlighting 3 MITs. Takes me right back to those 'baby steps' that gypsyharper was talking about (above). And your comment to separate the logical from the intuitive is right on. I can plan, assess, measure, evaluate, report, but none of that really has to do with the writing. When I'm writing, I fall into my characters and the words flow. Not every day do I connect this way, and especially not just now, because I'm in deep editing mode, but that's what I love about writing. The meditation is another way to get ready for that writing time, clear, undistracted. Bravo!


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