I recently found out about ‘A Round of Words in 80 Days’ (defined on twitter as #ROW80).
It’s a writing challenge that takes out the mad sprint and gets you to define your owl goals to complete over a period of 80 days. The emphasis is on continuous, sustainable goals rather than an end-goal that seems distant and overwhelming so that you have to burn yourself out to achieve it.
Of course many people work great with NaNoWriMo and I think it is a great tool to get people to stop obsessing over the words they’re writing and just get on with the thing and write it.
I don’t really think that’s been my problem so maybe that’s why NaNoWriMo hasn’t worked out for me. Although I do tend to go back and re-jig writing here and there as I go along I’ve never found it to be an issue, more a case of deleting a word I’ve accidentally used twice in concurring paragraphs or removing a metaphor that really won’t work in the setting, rather than being paralysed wondering how terrible it is when I’ve been writing (we all know it’ll be pretty bad to start with).
One of my pitfalls for doing NaNoWriMo is that I find that after a week or two I start to burn out, I’m still fairly excited about whatever I’ve been working on but I just can’t quite bring myself to sit down for another two hours after I’ve already written during my commute. In turn that can lead me to not writing for a few days, which can create a guilt cycle where I don’t write at all because when I have written it’ll just make me realise how much I haven’t written. It’s all a bit silly really.
That’s one of the things that I find appealing about ROW80; it’s not a mad sprint up a mountain in which you may break your neck, it’s a more leisurely hike that appreciates that whilst you get to the top of the mountain you might need to stop for a breather.
I also think that one of the best things about NaNoWriMo is the community spirit and that you have a whole support group of people who are trying to reach the top of that same mountain (or their own version of the mountain) which can help pull you along. ROW80 has that too, and part of it is making sure you account properly twice a week with how you’re doing for your goals.
With that in mind, and the fact that the next ROW80 starts next week, I’m going to try and think of some decent, sustainable goals for myself and my writing life. At the moment I’m trying to figure out a daily word count (one that won’t feel an insurmountable as the 1,667 consistently for 30 days) and also some writing exercises every week.
I will make another post next week with my firm goals but for now keep an eye out for a bit of anthology news!