Kayak or Cruise Ship? How do you want to write?

Welcome to Deep-Fried Friday — when I plunge into whatever topic seems juicy and crunchy and ready for devouring. Today’s topic is about how you want to write.

I never used to read the Acknowledgments section in a novel. Now that I have penned a couple of novels and am working on my third, I am vastly interested in knowing who the author credits with making the dream come true.

When I first imagined becoming a novelist, I pictured me and a laptop in a mountain cabin with scant contact with the masses – the Hermit Author discovering worlds of creativity and expression in her own soul.

Blah, blah, blah.

For one thing, there are no Starbucks or Schlotzsky’s near that mountain cabin, so that’s out. But more importantly, I don’t want to go it alone! Since I starting conversing in the blogosphere, chatting social media world, joining writers’ groups, and attending conferences, I’ve discovered that the understanding and encouragement of other writers is like a steady buoy in the tumultuous sea of writing and publication.

No, forget it. It’s not a buoy. We’re way more fun than that! We’re like a Carnival cruise ship with a pool, umbrella-laced frozen drinks, dancing, and hilarious stories of our lives and our writing adventures.

Yes, I am an introvert, but I like people. I like their insight. I like their expertise. I like their support. I even like their wallowing-in-the-dirt-with-a-mouthful-of-sand moments because I can be there to offer them one of those frozen concoctions: “Would a virtual margarita help?”

You can go it alone out there with a kayak and a survival kit and hope the sharks don’t get you. Or you join a group of fabulous, fun writers who will make the journey an exciting and memorable one. How about coming aboard the A Round of Words in 80 Days cruise liner?

A Round of Words in 80 Days is “the writing challenge that knows you have a life.” Rather than suggest the same goal for the person who gets to write 20 hours a week and the one who’s squeezing in one hour a day after the full-time job and juggling four kids and three dogs, you set your own goals. Your goals can be anything you like, as long as they are measurable — such as word count, pages written or edited, time spent.

You check in twice weekly for progress updates. That keeps us accountable, but even more so encouraged. Because then you and others visit one another’s progress posts, and do virtual cartwheels and pom-pom shaking.

Here are some things I love about A Round of Words in 80 Days, aka ROW80:

  • Setting my own goals. I set my own goals and adjust them within the round if necessary. This happened last round: I was diagnosed with mononucleosis, my energy level dropped to blech, and I lowered my expected word count as a result. When I felt better, I upped it again.
  • The length of each round — 80 days. I’ve seen some writing challenges that last for a month. I can’t write a book in a month, but I might be able to churn out a first draft or edit through a novel in eighty days. In fact, 80 days is a good length to accomplish quite a bit, but you still see a finish line.
  • The #ROW80 hashtag. The #ROW80 hashtag on Twitter is a great place to connect. We can post updates and chat about how it’s going, and I’ve benefitted tremendously from the word sprints there. Most days, around 1:00 CST a group of word sprinters can be found at #ROW80 or #teamsprinty. You can write or edit during the hour, but others send woots! and attagirls (or attaboys) your way at the end for your progress.
  • The organization. Okay, I admit to having some OCD traits. Not enough of them to have a clean house or anything, but enough that I want information to be organized and accessible. Kait Nolan launched A Round of Words in 80 Days, and she has done a great job of keeping the website updated, the sponsors in the loop, and the participants informed and supported. You can expect weekly posts from sponsors to give insight with your writing or goals, reminders to post updates, and an easy-to-navigate website with answers to your questions at your fingertips.
  • The people. ROW80 people rock! They are some of the most supportive, fun writer friends I have. They are also a smart bunch of writers who have more than once given me advice that was exactly what I needed. If you’re going to board a writing challenge cruise liner, you want to take the trip with interesting and exciting people. You’ll find that with the ROW80 writing challenge.

So to sum it up: Great writing challenge. Round 2 for 2012 starts April 2. Sign up HERE.

By the way, the other writer connection that has been invaluable to me is #MyWANA (stands for We Are Not Alone), which is the Love Revolution sponsored by social media Jedi Master Kristen Lamb.

I am thrilled to be a sponsor for this next Round of Words in 80 Days. I enjoyed wearing the Sponsor tag last round and can’t wait to cheer on a marvelous group of writers. The cruise ship is boarding. Let’s get this ocean par-tay going!

Are you coming aboard SS ROW80? What writing challenge do you enjoy? What groups of writers have been most helpful for you?

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20 thoughts on “Kayak or Cruise Ship? How do you want to write?

  1. Ready to set sail! So many writing challenges are based purely on how many new words we write. I spend a lot more time revising than writing a first draft. I like ROW80 because we can use it for revision goals and even non-writing goals like fitness. I used to run a similar, much smaller challenge group for my RWA chapter, and I participated in the 70 Days of Sweat writing challenge, sort of a precursor to ROW80. See you on April 2!

  2. I did one round of #ROW80 last year. I found that the blog entries ate up more writing time and became something I dreaded doing. I think about trying it again every time it comes up.

    I have been around the online writing community since 2007. I have been a member of SINC, GUPPIES, Savvy Authors, and Holly Lisle’s bootcamp communities. They were all wonderful, but the community I have found most helpful is the #MyWANA community.

    I stumbled on Kristen Lamb via a course offered through Long Island Romance Writers, and made friends of my classmates. You guys have inspired more forward motion (toward my goal of publication) than any other community of which I have been a member. 😀

    1. This time around, Catie, I am not doing blog entries twice a week. I plan to add a little note at the end of my Wednesday posts with a short update and do the longer post on Sundays. I put much less effort into ROW80 updates than a normal blog post, although I do try to make them interesting enough to read. I’ve gotten better at using ROW80 effectively with each round. But for heaven’s sake, don’t do something you dread! That last thing we hard-working writers need is another to-do on our list!

      And I absolutely agree with your #MyWANA comment! Whatever community we’re in needs to inspire that “forward motion”!

  3. I’m right there with you on the “introvert but loves people” wagon. And the ROW80 has been a huge blessing in my life and my writing. So has the #myWANA community.

    1. With the online writing community, I can pop in and enjoy the conversations, advice, etc. and then pop out when I need my recharge alone time. Perfect for an introvert, right? Thanks, Sonia!

  4. HA! Love the comparison of ROW80 with a Carnival cruise! I’m definitely in for Round 2 (BTW your link to the sign up isn’t live). See you on the 2nd 🙂

  5. I like #Row80 – it’s been a great way to keep me on task. Can’t believe another round starts next week! love to study people, but interacting when I’m writing is different. I write best in silence, when I know there’s no one in the house to bug me. Picky, aren’t I?

    1. I am exactly the same. I sit here in my study with the only sounds being the air conditioner and the birds chirping outside my window. Best wishes, Stacy!

  6. Thank you so much for this post and for linking to ROW80! I’ve signed up for ROW80 on my barely established blog (no really, the only post is just filler – I’ll be fixing that this weekend) and I’m really looking forward to the community and accountability.

    Internet hugs for you! 😀

    1. WELCOME!!! I hope you find your ROW80 cruise to be a productive and enjoyable one. A word for the first timer: Keep the goals short and specific. Don’t worry if you stumble or need to change them. Most of the ROW80ers I know did better achieving their goals with each round. But the challenge helps you sort out how you best work and get you going. Glad to have you join!

  7. “Yes, I am an introvert, but I like people. I like their insight. I like their expertise. I like their support. I even like their wallowing-in-the-dirt-with-a-mouthful-of-sand moments because I can be there to offer them one of those frozen concoctions: “Would a virtual margarita help?”” << RIGHT THERE! Perfect! That's how I feel!
    Let's rock the ROW!

  8. You almost had yourself a ROW80 convert, but then I read Catie’s repsonse. I’m so stretched for time with increasing day job demands that I worry about keeping up a ROW commitment in addition to writing. I want to join the cruise, but am afraid of falling overboard I guess.

    I wholeheartedly support all of you ROWers, though, and try to comment and cheer you on whenever I can. Keep up the great work!!

    1. Oh no, Jolyse! LOL. If you fell overboard, we would throw you a line, you know. 😉 You can always give it a try sometime if you want and ditch it if the challenge doesn’t work for you. That said, ROW80 shouldn’t be another dreaded to-do on your list. Keep up the great writing! Best wishes!

  9. I’m late to the party but I LOVE this post!! Great analogy…and obviously you and I are gonna be drinking umbrella drinks and dancing in the conga line at the Throwback Party on April 4th (SQUEEE)!!!

  10. I love the ROW80 cruise ship and so glad you are back as a sponsor. I did two in a row, so took this one off, but I’m looking forward to participating and getting a lot of writing done before my kids are home for summer. 😉

    1. Thanks, Tia! Another great thing about ROW80 — pop into those rounds that work for you. I also don’t get as much writing done with the kids home in the summer. So the clock is ticking! 🙂

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