#ROW80 / Books I've Read / Uncategorized / Writing Community

Writing Goals–Final ROW80 Check-In

pile of books

I’ve been procrastinating on writing this post for my final ROW80 Round 3 check-in. Mostly because I’m not exactly sure how to summarize my thoughts on what, if anything, I accomplished.

I was chatting with the lovely and talented Sonia G Medeiros on Twitter. She asked if I was going to sign up for Round 4. And I have to say my initial response was, “I’m not sure. I think I need to reevaluate my goals.”

Originally I set out with a goal of writing 750 words per day. Eighty days of 750 words per day would have brought me to the end of my novel. But…that didn’t happen. Mostly because the novel I thought I had planned turned out to not be planned so well. So I took a break for some learning. Here is what I DID do in 80 days:

  • Read Save the Cat, by Blake Snyder
  • Read Story Engineering by Larry Brooks
  • Read Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell
  • I also read a TON of YA fiction–equally for study and pleasure
  • Beta read a high fantasy novel for a writer friend
  • Beta read a steampunk novel for another writer friend
  • Wrote a beat sheet for two different novel ideas
  • Outlined with index cards for two different novel ideas
  • Debated over which of those ideas to start writing
  • Wrote about 8,000 words on one idea
  • Switched and wrote about 7,000 words on the other (and this is the one I’m currently working on)
  • Made it a goal to be more consistent with my blogging by committing to three entries per week (which I did successfully for the most part, but not perfectly for sure)
  • Became a contributor to a group blog that recommends indie YA books
Hmm, seems I’ve done more reading than writing.
And in my non-writing life I’ve added to my plate–my oldest son started preschool and I joined the PTA for the school (and am the PTA’s book fair committee chairperson). Oh, and my twins dropped their morning nap–which doesn’t seem like a big deal to the non-parents out there, I’m sure. But it does change things up in my daily routine. With these changes, I find myself struggling to form a consistent writing routine.
So, all that to say: Sonia, I DO think I’ll join in another round of ROW80. Here’s why:
  1. It forced me to focus on my writing, even if that meant I had to stop writing in order to get better at it.
  2. Being plugged into a writing community is a great way to stay motivated. Otherwise this journey is far too lonely.
  3. What better way to find a consistent writing routine, than to make that one of my goals?
  4. I did make some progress, and as Kait Nolan said on the ROW80 blog the other day:
“That single step is one step further than you’d be if you had done nothing.  So it’s not a failure.  It might not be what you wanted to get done, but it’s something and that counts as progress.”
Perhaps Nabakov can best sum up how I feel:

The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible.  ~Vladimir Nabakov


16 thoughts on “Writing Goals–Final ROW80 Check-In

  1. I think our experiences were similar this round, Erin. I started with one set of goals; changed them; and then didn’t bother revising again on paper even though I was no longer on that track. Reading the plot books altered my plans a bit. If I’m going to write a novel, I want to write a darn good one! So I’m willing to back up, take another look, and do what I need to do to get there.
    Fortunately, I could also list a number of things I accomplished, even if they weren’t my original goals. Congrats on your progress! By the way, I liked when my kids moved to one nap because I got a longer period of time to myself, and it didn’t break up the day as much. Hope it works for you!

    • Thanks, Julie. And you’re so right–those plot books really did alter my plans. But in the long run I’d say that’s for the better! And as for the naps–I do think eventually it’ll work out better. I do like that their nap is now a solid 2-3 hours (usually 3), but for some reason it takes me a while to adjust to a new routine (which is not the best thing w/ little kids at home). But ultimately it will work out well.

  2. Erin, look at the progress you made! I felt much the same way (what the heck did I do?) but when I started a list I realized how much I had done–even if a lot of it, as Nabokov says (I love that quote!) is not on the page.

    And the community? I am never, ever going to sit in that dark and lonely corner by myself again!

  3. You list is certainly impressive and don’t lots of writers always say to be a writer you need to be a reader so it is all progress!

    I look forward to seeing you in Round 4 and hopefully getting to know you more!

  4. I’m very glad to have participated in this challenge. And I’m definitely there for the next round, too. It looks like you accomplished a lot, too, Erin. Joining challenges has been the best thing I could do for my writing progress.

  5. Awesome! You got so much done!! It might not have been what you originally planned but it’s definitely going to benefit your writing. I had to figure out what was workable for me too. I’m hoping I can get faster at the whole plotting and writing process. I’m looking forward to the next ROW8O round so I can test out some of my new ideas about making reasonable goals for myself.

  6. That looks like a pretty successful ROW80 to me, Erin. At least 15,000 words, two beta reads, two different novel outlines, 3 blog posts a week…oy, that’s very busy! Plus all the reading… I love your overall approach to writing–including not just writing but those other activities that enhance your writing ability. Good stuff.

    I’m glad you’re doing round #4. Like you, I too debated not doing it (mostly to rest because I’ve done 3 in a row), but then, I figured I’m going to write regardless. Why not keep a little structure in place. So long as I set my goals to motivate and not exhaust or create a situation to beat myself up over, it’s good.

    • Thanks! To be fair–one of the outlines was the rewrite, so I just had to rearrange scenes and add in what was missing. Not a total scratch outline :).

      But I do think I learned a lot this round and I’m not sure I would have if I hadn’t joined. And I agree–a little structure/routine is a great thing. Looking forward to round 4!

  7. The list of what you DID achieve is huge. That is the best bit about ROW80 you can change you goals, You changed them and you did really well. And I totally get you about the sleep thing (my son is making me sing wiggles song while I am writing this :), have to be careful not to type ‘hot potato’)

    Hopefully I will see you in Round 4 🙂

  8. Erin, this is a great list of accomplishments. Sometimes I feel that we, as writers, fall into the trap of thinking that “only writing” counts as work. One of the things that I’ve learned as I deal with my MA thesis is that the thinking work, the planning work, the outlining work etc. is *all* work, and fiction writing isn’t much different in that respect.

    Good luck retooling your schedule and your goals, and I look forward to seeing you at the start of Round 4!

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