Accountability is important in habit building. We use accountability aids as a tool for fostering the sorts of behavior we are trying to generate in our lives – whether that is kicking a bad habit, or building a new one. NaNoWriMo is essentially a big month long accountability aid, as we’re guilted into writing 50k words in a month because we’ve told all these people we’re going to get it done.
Many accountability aids are personal and private. These are tools to provide inspiration by showing the progress you’ve made toward your goal. Other accountability aids are more public. Dean Wesley Smith mentioned he used to play a game with other writers where each writer got points for every piece out on submission to publishers or magazines. He also said that many of those writers who excelled at the game are folks he still sees making a successful career of writing today.
I kicked off one accountability aid yesterday, in the form of that little black book. I’ll be logging each day the word count I accomplished, and by tracking the goal daily, I am left with a daily reminder of how far I’ve come, how much I’ve done. Hopefully that will inspire and encourage me. 😉
Today I’m kicking off another accountability aid, this one a public one: ROW80, or “A Round of Words in 80 Days”.
It’s a cool little writing crew dedicated to setting realistic goals that one can peck away at on a regular basis, building a routine of writing effort which will eventually become habit, and move from habit into generating success. The premise is that small goals accomplished regularly are more sustainable than big sweeping goals which force one to put out a huge burst effort. And after my last three NaNoWriMos – each of which left me completing 20-25k words on the last day – I am inclined to agree. 😉 I mean, I MADE those word counts, but that’s hardly a sustainable effort for me. In fact, it’s burned me out each year.
So I’m joining ROW80 in an effort to help create a sense of public accountability to steady, sustainable goals, with a crew of like minded writers also doing the same thing.
As part of the joining process, we’re supposed to write a blog post detailing our goals for the next 80 days. I’ve read several other goal posts, and some are very elaborate, with very specific targets. Since this is my first time through, I’m going to use the KISS method and keep the goals as simple as possible. Not easy, but easy to understand and easy to assess.
1) I will try to write every day, at least a little. But I will not beat myself up if an attack of life prevents this sometimes.
2) I will write 7k or more words per week.
3) I will finish 80,000 words over the course of this 80-day ROW80 period.
Those are good goals, I think. They’re in keeping with my already stated goal of achieving 366,000 new words this year – that’s about 1k per day, so 80 days = 80k words. But they’re flexible enough that I should be able to miss some days without feeling it’s a crisis, and at the same time be accountable for those 7k words each week, minimum, so I won’t get too far behind.
It feels like a good place to start!