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?