Sunday, August 21, 2011

ROW80 Update and A NaNoWriMo Decision

This is going to be a ROW80 update and blog post combined in one.  It's just easier to do it that way today since I am heading out to brunch with my best friend to hash out some major decisions I'm in the process of making in my life.  I need to bounce some ideas off of her and I know she will help me find which direction I'm heading in, instead of flailing about.  

First, I'll get my update out of the way on the ROW80 goals.  I continue on target for the activity goal, 6 days of activity out of 7, on top of the 6 out of 7 before that!    Woot! *pats myself on back*  Sundays are my day off, and thankfully so, because my muscles are screaming for a little R & R.  Though, I may sneak in some belly dancing later this afternoon--I'm trying to get this one move down and its driving me crazy.  As for writing, I'm plodding along, but this part of the WIP is going slower than the first half.  I think because the work has taken such a different turn than what I initially expected.  I need to adapt the ending I had planned for the twists and turns the WIP has decided to go in.  But…slow and steady wins the race right?

So with ROW80 going well, on to the next question that has been stirring in my head recently:

To NaNoWriMo or not to NaNoWriMo…That is the Question…

I need to start off by giving a shout out to the blogger who got me thinking about this topic already, and the comments that followed .  Em, over at Loves to Read, Wants to Write, has two posts on it.  First she discusses whether she should, here: NaNoWriMo Dare I Try It?   She then discusses her decision here, NaNo She Who Dares May Hopefully Win.  Her questions and ultimate decision, and the comments that followed by myself and others from those two discussions, got me thinking about what my own decision would be this year. 

Em states in her second post, towards the end, that "At best I will complete it, at worst I will do some writing on a new project." I have to agree with that statement 200%.  However, if not for ROW80, I may not have.  ROW80 for me has changed my thinking about what a "goal" is.  For me, in the past, whenever I've set  goals, and missed a day or a word count or a deadline, I felt guilty and beat myself up about it.  All that results from that is me getting pissed off and frustrated, and usually giving up.  What ROW80 has taught me though is to look at my goals differently--both when I set them AND as I trudge along the path to victory.  ROW80 has helped me to see that it is okay to modify my goals along the way.  After all, everyone has a life and things happen--things we can't stop or control and sometimes there is nothing we can do about it. So when that happens, there is no sense in beating myself up about it.  Instead I move on and do the best that I can the next day.   Simply put, I've finally learned that it's okay if I don't hit every target exactly on mark and to cut myself some slack every once in awhile.  It’s only taken 30 years, but hey, better to learn it late than not at all, right?  

So all this talk of goals brings me to my next thought about writing in general.  For me,  all writing is good.  I know that is a pretty broad statement, and I don't mean that all writing is like Pulitzer Prize winning good.  Or even publish-able good.  What I mean is, that all writing is good in the sense that it teaches us something.  Even if it teaches us how not to do something, it is still teaching SOMETHING. 

What I'm trying to say is that any writing teaches, whether someone is a student, a writer, or whoever.  I mean, for me, I know that I am constantly fine tuning my writing, making changes and learning new and different techniques to keep what I'm writing fresh and interesting.  But I am also learning from the mistakes I've made.   In fact, I sometimes think I make more mistakes than anything else, but I also learn from them.   Whether it's how to use, or not use, a comma or a dreaded semi-colon (I hate semi-colons), or how to plot a story, write from one point of view or another, how NOT to set a scene (and oh I have so many of those!), or one of a hundred other things, it all gives us a little bit more knowledge about writing, the writing process, ourselves as writers and/or something about the story we are creating.  Something that we maybe didn't have when we first set pen to paper, or cursor to computer screen. 

So what does all of this clarity about goals and writing have to do with signing up to write 50K words in the month of November?  Well, I've decided to take this new attitude with me to NaNoWriMo. 

I will be embracing NaNoWriMo, but not with a fevered goal of "I must reach 50k words by November 30" because roughly translated in my mind that means, "Either hit the 50K word mark or it will all be a waste of time." That's what happened in 2009, and I gave up. Frustrated and annoyed that I missed daily word count deadlines, I just threw up my hands and let my WIP rot in its folder on my computer. In fact, it is still sitting there, waiting to be worked on and finally finished. So I'm not going down that road again. I'm going to look at this year's NaNoWriMo in a different light. This time, my attitude towards the challenge will be that I work on a new project for the month, continuing my new habit of writing every day. I hope I make 50K words, and of course that is the actual goal I will have. But in my mind, I am also okay with if I don't hit it exactly on target. I don't think that is lessoning the importance of the challenge either--or setting myself up to not reach the 50K word goal. I think instead it is practical and more in line with what I've learned from being in the ROW80 challenge thus far--goals, for me, have to be flexible or I fold at the first 'screw up'. After all, in the end, writing is writing and by the end of the challenge I will have learned something about myself or my writing, or perhaps both. And no matter the word count by November 30, I will have more than what I had on a new WIP on October 31. To me, that's accomplishment right there.


  1. Absolutely love this post and thank you for the amazing shout out and links! *blush*

    I think your attitude is great and I too want to take everything I have learnt from ROW 80 into NaNo. Any words written is an achievement and if we make the 50k of course we will dance with joy but I absolutely agree that it is the act of writing that will be our accomplishment.

  2. I really want to squeal over this post, because you've managed to articulate so much of what I feel about writing and what ROW80 has done for me as well. First, yay on reaching your goals! And you're right - slow and steady indeed wins the race.

    I'm so happy to hear that you're throwing in your hat to the NaNo ring. I just signed up, and I NEVER would've considered it if it hadn't been for the discipline that I've learned through ROW80. This challenge has reminded me that writing should be fun, and after almost 3 months, the idea of writing on a daily basis isn't nearly as scary as it used to be.

    Anyway, yay you! Oh, and I was telling Em that we should make a "fun not fear" NaNo support group/community, 'cause I think that would be a blast. :D

  3. Sounds like you're finding your own way with writing and learning. I love your attitude, best of luck for next week.

  4. I believe ROW80 has changed many of the ROWers' outlook in the same way. I had a similar experience with NaNo and used to beat myself until I threw up my hands. But now that I've been participating in ROW80, I don't sweat it when life happens. I just readjust. I'm also considering NaNo this year (I'm still in the thinking stage, nowhere close making a decision). Good job on ROW80 and happy writing in November!

  5. @Em--your welcome and thanks for the comment! I can't wait to rip into NaNoWriMo now. I already have the whisperings of an idea in the back of my mind. Once I get through this round of ROW80 I will start working on a rough outline. Will be something to do on the cruise in October other than read and drink margaritas!

    @Jamila--yes to the support group! yes, yes, yes!

    @Katy--thanks so much for the comment, and yeah I'm getting there. I definitely feel like I've accomplished something, well a few somethings actually and I am looking forward to more ROW80 in the future!

    @wordsbydesign--exactly! I used to just beat myself up about how much I sucked when I missed a word count or deadline! I am so glad I've let myself breathe a little bit and readjust as needed. If not for ROW80 and all of you amazing fellow challengers I don't know if I ever would have made that discovery, or it would have at least taken a lot longer! Thanks for the comment and good luck this week!

  6. That's great that a whole bunch of you from ROW80 are going to do NaNoWriMo. I commented on Em's blog that I will not be in the challenge with you, but I'll be on the sidelines cheering.

    All the best!

  7. Hmm, have you been reading my mind lately?! The last three years I have participated in NaNoWriMo, I've only gotten to at most, 30,000 words. Which used to make me feel defeated, but then I realized, that is 30,000 words more than I used to have. So I do NaNo every year, not with the intent of writing 50,000 words, but with the intent of writing as much as possible with a supportive group of people doing the same thing. Exactly like what we do with our Row80ers. :)

  8. Thank you for your comment! I am thinking NaNo might be an opportunity for me to tell my family that I am doing that challenge. I might not tell them about my blog etc. but I may tell them I am aiming to write 50k in a month so if I am with them I can skip off to write rather than slope off and write in secret! I think my mum thinks I am addicted to online bingo or something as I am glued to my laptop!

    Will get on to Jamila about our support group asap!

  9. yay - so many of us in NaNo I won't feel so alone - have no idea what to expect but it seems many othere's don't either - when I joined ROW80 in January I felt toungue tied and very much a beginner thinking everyone else would be prize winners - what I found was bunch of folk some expert, many beginners like me all so kind and my confidence has grown - I enjoy my weekly round of blogs and seeing howeveryone copes with trying to lot life and creativity together. Now there will be the same nice people on the next big adventure yay yay yay

  10. Yes, slow and steady wins the race, especially when combined with belly dancing. :)

    And of course, sometimes you have to do things fast and furious (and then do some slow and steady rewriting). This November will be my second NaNo. I was successful with last year's NaNo at 50,002 words- a fast-paced futuristic adventure novel. :)

    I already have my basic storyline in mind for this year's NaNo, and it's going to be the kind of story best written without too much initial pondering. So NaNo will be perfect again.

    See you in November! :)

  11. I agree with everything you said about a new vision for NaNo, embracing what you learn. Even if you don't "win", you'll win. Kudos! I'm trying to make my own decision on NaNo, and it seems to be on lots of minds right now. Is that something else we're learning from ROW80 -- looking forward? The flow of this challenge is helping me see my goals as part of a life-long pursuit.