ROW 80 Goals: A New Form of Accountability

Monday, April 4, 2011

What is ROW 80, you might ask?  That's a good question, because I myself didn't know until about a week ago.  I've been following Vicki Keire's blog for awhile now, and I noticed she was doing something called "ROW 80 check-ins" and that she had a ROW 80 banner in her sidebar, but I still didn't know what these things meant.  Eventually I went in search of what this thing was, and I'm so glad I did.  It turns out that ROW 80 is exactly what I'm missing in my life right now--accountability.

ROW 80, or "A Round of Words in 80 Days," is designed for those of us who flunk out of NaNoWriMo in the first three days, who need to be able to set reasonable daily or weekly or monthly writing goals that we can actually accomplish, and who can do so at times of year that accommodate our schedules.  (Unlike NaNoWriMo, which falls at the worst possible time of year for a grad student!)  ROW 80 doesn't ask you to give up your life for a month; it asks you to create better writing habits, to prioritize your writing, and to do so within a safe group of bloggers who are doing the same.  It's a brilliant idea because you get to set your own goals, based on your own circumstances.

Round Two of ROW 80 (the first round ran from the beginning of the year until just a few days ago) begins today, April 4, and runs through June 23.  For those roughly two and a half months, my goals are:
  1. Write 500 words a day at least three days a week.  These 500 words must be related to creative projects--The New Novel, or any short story, creative non-fiction, or poetry projects.  They cannot relate to my dissertation or to any academic publishing projects--that article I'm revising, or book reviews and encyclopedia entries.  Blogging also does not count, but creative revision does, as long as I'm adding 500 new words in the process.
  2. Blog at least twice once a week about writing or related subjects.  I already have to blog twice a week to "check-in" with other ROW 80 writers (look for those updates on Wednesdays and Sundays), but I'd like to post at least two one new blogs of substance a week. (Something more than "I'm doing great, guys!  Meeting all those goals!" or "I'm failing miserably and haven't gotten off the couch in two weeks.")
  3. Read one book a week related to a current project of mine and review it on my blog.  I took this idea from Vicki, and I think it's a great idea.  Because I'm working on a YA novel, this will usually mean reviews of new or classic YA novels (I'm really wanting to revisit Madeleine L'Engle's Austin family series at the moment), but since I'm also working on a couple of travel pieces and a short story, I might also review some collections.
  4. Read one writing-related magazine or a literary journal a week. Since I subscribe to The Writer, Poets & Writers, and Writer's Digest and rarely read any of them, I'm hoping this goal will both improve my writing and knowledge of the publishing industry, as well as relieve some of my guilt about over-subscribing.
  5. Get two new story acceptances.  Now, I realize this is a goal I have limited control over, but I think if I'm doing all this new writing, it shouldn't be too terribly difficult.  I've unofficially set a goal for myself of one new published piece a month, and so far I'm right on schedule--I've had four pieces (one poem, two flash fiction stories, and one traditional short story) accepted since January.  So the goal is to be able to continue this in May and June.
  6. Submit stories at least five new places a week.  This goal is tied closely to the previous one.  Obviously, if I'm going to get two story acceptances in the next two months, I've got to be submitting stories!  The number I've set here is actually a low one, but right now I don't have anything new to send out. (I have one story out for submission right now, but I've already sent it lots of places, so I can't really submit it anymore until rejections start coming in.)  Of course, ROW 80 is going to change that and hopefully help me write and polish lots of new pieces to submit, so soon I should be able to be submitting far more than five places a week.
  7. Go to the gym at least three times a week.  Okay, this one doesn't sound directly related to writing, but it's my way of setting some quantifiable health-related goal that will help my writing.  I write more and I write better when I'm living an overall healthy life, and being active is part of that.  For months now, I've been a real slacker when it comes to the gym, and I feel...rotten.  I feel sluggish, I have no energy, and I get horrible headaches.  My blood sugar has also been giving me a lot of trouble lately.  I believe all of these things are linked, and I'm hoping that being more active will make me feel better, and thus, instead of longing to take a nap every afternoon, I will use that time to write instead.
So that's it!  My six (hopefully manageable) goals for the next 80 days.  They won't be easy.  Over the next month, I have many academic projects that have to be completed (there are only so many times I can tell my dissertation director "I'm working on it" before she calls my bluff); and I have to teach, grade papers, and give finals, in addition to my other part-time work as an editorial assistant and research assistant.  Most difficult, however, will be the month I'm in London (mid-May to mid-June), when I'll be slogging through dusty, moldy archives seven days a week all in the name of academic research.  It will certainly be a challenge to keep my ROW 80 goals then, but if I create the habit now, I have no doubt I'll be able to accomplish all of my goals even then.


Author Belinda Kroll April 4, 2011 at 2:52 PM  

ROW80 Sponsor here! So glad to have you with us. I'm beyond impressed by your list of goals. Good luck with everything! Looking forward to seeing your progress.

Lacy Marschalk April 4, 2011 at 3:33 PM  

Thanks, Belinda! I'm really looking forward to the next couple of months.

BTW, I just checked out your website and blog, and wow! I really loved the design--so clean and beautiful.

Anonymous,  April 4, 2011 at 7:40 PM  

I love how specific your goals are! Maybe by the third round I'll feel feisty enough to do something similar. :) Best of luck this round!

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