Note: If you are a skimmer, please move on down to the red stuff at the bottom so you get the rules.
Note 2: This page was written by our founder, Kait Nolan.

I have an addiction to writing challenges.  There’s just something about a big group of writers all struggling toward “The End” and supporting each other along the way that really appeals to me.  I always sign up for them.  And I almost always fail to achieve anywhere approaching the word count expected of these exercises.  Why?  Well look at the options: NaNoWriMo (1 month), Fast Draft (2 weeks), JuNoWriMo (1 month) as well as the NaNoCamps, the EdNoWriMo (a month of editing).  There are others, of course.  But you get the idea.  What do they all have in common?

They all demand that you ignore life for this short, specified period of time, put the book first and write.

That’s all well and good and admirable, but how many of you can check out of your life for two weeks or a month without dire consequences?  I know I can’t.

Not to mention the fact that those kinds of word counts, and the notion of spewing words “just to get the draft down” makes exactly zero sense to me.  I do NOT belief in the SFD (ahem, crappy first draft) method.  I’m not a pantser, I’m a plotter.  So just because there are words on the page doesn’t mean that I can simply edit them and make them okay if what happens in that scene is just straight up wrong because I just spewed without direction.

Relax, this is not intended to start another round of the never-ending Pantser vs. Plotter debate.

The one writing challenge at which I actually succeeded was 70 Days of Sweat.  The challenge was 60-100k in 70 days.  It pushed me beyond my usual daily goal of 500 words, but not so far that I had to blow off life.  I loved this challenge.  The pace, the inspiration, the community. Unfortunately, they haven’t done a round in over 2 years.

That’s why I’m starting A Round of Words in 80 Days.

As I sit here in the third week of NaNo, hopelessly behind (and not really caring) on my word count, I am dreaming of a saner, more reasonable writing challenge that’s reminiscent of my days with Sven (he was our mascot for 70 Days).  A challenge that recognizes that I have a life I can’t ditch, but still provides a challenge and the support of a community of others who are working alongside me with their own goal, their own lives, learning to juggle.

Here’s what I propose:

  • A challenge that happens 4 times a year with a break between sessions.
  • Round 1 starts the first Monday in January (because I like starting things on Monday and this way everyone can recover from New Year’s excesses) and runs through March.  (Round 2 would start first Monday in April , Round 3 first Monday in July, Round 4 first Monday in October–you get the idea).
  • You have 80 days for your Round of Words
  • Your goal can be anything you like as long as it is MEASURABLE. If you’re already in the middle of a WIP, that’s fine.  Tailor your goal to suit that.  You may even want to set mini goals (I want to finish the last 40k of this novel.  Then I want to spend the last 20 days revising it at x pages a day.).  There are a lot of elements to writing a book other than the writing itself.  Plotting.  Outlining.  Character Interviews.  Whatever.  Set your goal to match wherever you are right now on your WIP.  If you want to use your Round for editing a novel, that’s fine too.  Just know that this is, at heart, a writing challenge, so all the weekly inspirational posts will be geared in that direction.
  • There’s no mandatory daily word count. Every writer is different, everyone has different schedules.  You set a goal that works for you.  Find a way to make writing a priority in your life in a way that fits you, but set some kind of schedule and BE CONSISTENT.
  • Once Sign-Ups are open, you’ll make a blog post stating your measurable goal and swing by the blog (linked above) or the Facebook Group to post a link to your goals. If your goal changes because you’ve met it before the 80 days is up, just write a new one and link to it on a check in day.
  • There will be twice a week check-ins on Sunday and Wednesday where you’ll update us via the same method, posting a NEW LINK to your progress post on each check-in post (it’ll be sticky at the top of the group). The idea here is that folks can travel around to everybody’s blogs and drop a supportive comment.
  • On Twitter we’ll use a hashtag of #ROW80 so everyone can follow discussions (though if you’re not on Twitter, that’s totally fine too).

Finally, I am always looking for more help improving the ROW80. Things you can do could be as simple as tweeting the check-in posts or making a commitment to visit fellow ROWers each check-in to writing an inspirational post, and, of course, participating in the challenge itself.  Please email our webminion Eden Mabee at mousefir (at) gmail (dot) com if you’re interested.

So how about it?  Do you want a saner, more reasonable writing challenge?  Will you join me for A Round of Words in 80 Days?

Please note that this is the informational page.  The main challenge is located here.


29 thoughts on “About (Where ROW80 Came From)

  1. LOL I am totally a pantster and I am more than capable of writing 5k a day more on good days and less on bad days. However, with children, I have to look at 3k a day. That is for straight writing, not editing!

    I need the goals of getting something done, otherwise, I am slow to do it, and never reach my potential. So, I guess, what I am saying, is that I will participate. 😀 I’m not sure what my goals will be yet. I have to make them hard, but not unattainable… Plus I need to learn how to do the stuff you are talking about. Link back to anther post? huh? I have heard of it. 😛

    Any how, I have retweeted your tweet today. And will think of a good goal to have for first section. *sits down and ponders furiously*

      1. Kait, I’d planned to delete my 365, but I think it’d be to my benefit to keep the blog going another year. Thanks so much and I appreciate what you are doing!

  2. I would like to try this challenge. I’ve never tried a writing challenge. I’m really afraid to make a specific word count. I’ll think about picking a number.

        1. Twitter is for conversation and is not a separate page. It’s like a giant instant message. And because I really really despise Facebook and it’s my challenge 😀

  3. I am in… if you will accept me! Well, I am not an author but I desperately have to write and publish during the next semester to stay in job.
    I am a research scientist. If I don’t publish my work, I don’t exist. It is that simple. Well, I could become a technician, which is something I don’t want to. At least, not yet. So, I need to publish my research work from 4 different projects (~ 8 papers ~6000 words each) but I can’t make myself sit down and do it. Someone else then publishes something similar, and that’s it. My work is lost. Every day, I keep finding different “priorities” to avoid writing. Or I am not concentrated and can’t write, even if I dedicate the time. Furthermore, it often takes me a lot of time to write, let’s say a page or two, and feel happy about it. It could take me 6 hours a page… probably that is not normal/ average…

    1. Well it’s unconventional, but hey, I used to use NaNo to write lectures for new classes. Anything goes as long as it’s a measurable goal to do with writing.

  4. Okay, I’m in. Scared as hell, but in. I need to write several scholarly articles for tenure, and I have two short stories in outline, so I need this! I will get myself organized for Round 3!

  5. I have a clarification question…Do we post to linkytools only once with our goals and people use that to look at our updates or do we post a new link each update day to that particular blog post?

    1. Your goals go on the goal post linky posted at the beginning of each round. Your updates go on each relevant update linky. There should be new links for each linky, linking directly to your progress post for that check-in.

  6. I’ve been a lone-wolf writer for much of my “career,” with my best working coming when I felt of pressuring of knowing others were going to see it. Writing is easy, but “authoring” is a pain in the literary ass. Seeing that I’m not the only one struggling is the best motivation I could possibly have to keep going with something that has been my dream from fifteen years. A contest/self-challenge like ROW80 seems like it could be the second best!

    A.M. Schultz

  7. I have a similar draw to challenges. I joined the A to Z challenge for April to read and meet other writers. I really want to develop some friendships with other writers so we can benefit from each other’s strength in writing, publishing and friendship.

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