Why ROW80 Works by Ben Miller

Too often, writing can be very difficult. And I’m not talking about finding the right words, scenes, or tropes, or keeping libraries of characters straight. Even in those times when your muse is singing joyful arias in your ear, schedules and timing can act as road blocks, not to mention responsibilities to families and jobs. As a result, sometimes you want to give up and sometimes you don’t know where that next word is going to come from or how you’ll ever finish the story or novel that you’re writing.

This difficulty at times seems even greater for me. I struggle with schedules constantly. I’ve written about my struggle with schedules and my attempts to wrestle with them. After all that wrestling, I admit that I can’t win and time is a complete mystery to me.

I write more slowly than paint drying on a bed of molasses and I constantly struggle with feeling of my own literary mortality. Sometimes, with every word I’m convinced I’m done saying what I have to say, even mid sentence. I also have the problem of being a schizophrenic writer. I write a lot of cryptic poetry and it usually flows so easily. Sometimes it can be written in minutes, certainly in hours. Prose and fiction prose particularly is an infinitely slower, laborious process. In any writing program I would wash out very swiftly because my schedule was too erratic, I couldn’t keep up with word counts, or my chaotic attitude had violated some other tenet of the program.

A Round of Words in Eighty Days has saved me, twice me, first in Round One, and again in Round Two.

In Round One, as I’ve documented before, when my writing of anything had come completely to a  standstill, the flexibility and power of the program spoke to me and got me writing again. It got me thinking about stories and words and what I can do with them and got words flowing through my blood again. That, in turn reconnected me with my love of poetry and got me moving and thinking about things and how I can express them. Most importantly, it gave me the assurance that I could write on my own time-line and with my own goals, a freedom that a chaotic soul like me demands, as long as I showed up regularly to update Row 80 comrades and urge them on in their success.  The launch of that writing rebirth helped me to arrive at a place of more knowing, which I greatly appreciate. And yes, I realize that’s a cryptic phrase, but to explain it would take an entire essay all by itself. Trust me that it’s a good thing.

In Round two, having reconnected with all that writing mojo, I have suffered from serious schedule problems. I’ve tried to fight it, restructure it and restructure myself to fit a schedule, any schedule and not of it works. Please see my above comment about being a chaotic soul. And, after much self-questioning, I’ve realized that that’s all, OK and as long as I keep working on my goals, in whatever way makes sense for me, I will move forward, and I will succeed. The flexibility of the Row 80 program allows me to transcend everything that I think would be a limitation and allows me to focus on writing. This too, is a good—no—a great thing.

To its glory, the whole point of A Round of Words in 80 Days is to write. Create goals and do what you can to meet them. Bite off more than you can chew (I’ve done that, too), and you can reset your goals. If your schedule runs away with you, flow with it and keep writing. That’s the whole point is to keep writing, and as we all know, that’s the only way to be a writer.  The Row 80 way will make sure you do that, no matter what, and that’s not a good thing, but a beautiful thing.


Ben Miller



  1. Tat to all that – schedules a word I dislike – goals one I do like – I too have a strangly chaotic mind – after all I’m the one who wrote the middle of the book first and then the end and still not entirley sure how it starts!!!My goals with ROW80’s permission have changed as circumstance and muse dictates – fellow travelers have kept me up and not down as used to happen if I couldn’t meet goals – It is I am with you on this a great place to be

  2. Your description of how you write is one I can definitely relate to, which is why I’m excited to join Row 80 in the next round (yeah, my brain works in such a way that it’s determined to wait, and any attempts to jump into the middle of something just will not hold). So now I’m even more excited than before! Thank you!

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