Final Round 1 Check-in (Plus, 5 Books/Blogs to Read Between Rounds to Fill the Creative Well)

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash.

Hi, ROW80 folks! It’s Denise, stepping in for the tireless Eden Mabee for the last check-in post of Round 1.

Maybe you pushed hard and are now soaring past the finish line, dripping sweat but filled with pride at all you accomplished. If so, savor that feeling. Victory tastes sweet!

And if you’re a few blocks back, wondering if you’re even heading in the right direction anymore? Well, let me tell you, that is okay too. Here’s the thing. No matter where you are, you’re in the race–and your only competition is yourself.

ROW80 is all about setting goals that move you toward your own personal definition of success. What I love about this group is that we all have such different goals, and we all support each other. Whether we’re newbies or pros, whether we’re writing a novel a month or trying to get a few words on the page, we’re all one another’s cheerleaders.

So, please, share your ROW80 Round 1 wrap-up post in the comments below, be sure to visit others, and most importantly, as we enjoy the pause between rounds, be sure to take a break.

In case you’re looking for some inspiration during the break, here are a few recommended reads:

  1. Better Than Before, Gretchen Rubin. This one is all about habits–how they’re formed, why they’re easier for some of us than others, and how to make changes stick. Rubin created what she calls the Four Tendencies–four different ways of dealing with internal and external expectations–and in Better Than Before, she helps us identify our “tendency” and learn how to best achieve our goals and form habits based on that personality type.
  2. Owls and Other Fantasies: Poems and Essays, Mary Oliver. We lost beloved poet Mary Oliver in January. Her poems have reminded me to lead a life close to nature, to seek inspiration and wisdom there, and that the best art is created by listening closely to the world around (and within). As we move toward spring, I’m always called to her poetry, and I hope you can find some inspiration in her words as well.
  3. “How to Crush Your Writing Goals,” Sarra Cannon (blog post and video). Sarra is not only a talented author whose books have moved so many readers, she’s also launched a website and YouTube channel for authors, helping them define success on their own terms and meet their goals (sound familiar, ROW80 folks?). This might provide some much-needed inspiration for setting your Round 2 goals. Disclaimer: I’ve signed up for her HB90 Quarter 2 Bootcamp!
  4. 12 Things to Remember When You Are Feeling Overwhelmed,” Courtney Carver, (blog post). Trust me, I started off 2019 with a serious energy deficit. I’ve worked hard to implement so many of the solutions Courtney recommends–especially remembering that mental and physical health is more important than “all that other sh*t you think is important.” (And trust me, if we forget this, our bodies will remind us in the most unpleasant of ways!) If you need some inspiration when it comes to saying no, setting boundaries, and committing to yourself, this is a great and quick read.
  5.  Dear Writer, You Need to Quit, Becca Syme. I needed this book, guys. So. Freaking. Much. Becca’s whole thing is about questioning the premise. Every piece of advice we get as writers, whether it’s about process, quantity, marketing. You name it. Her words help us cut through the noise.

There you have it. Fuel for next round. I hope Round 1 was a good one. Don’t forget to share your link, check in with your accountability partner, and visit fellow ROWers to cheer them on!

Stay wild, stay magical, and stay creative! See you next round!

Sunday check-in: Answering the Storyteller’s Call…

macro photography of spider on a web
Photo by Ray Bilcliff on

“People say, ‘What advice do you have for people who want to be writers?’ I say, they don’t really need advice, they know they want to be writers, and they’re gonna do it. Those people who know that they really want to do this and are cut out for it, they know it.” — R.L. Stine

That’s why we’re all here, isn’t it? Through all the ups and downs of this crazy writing life, we couldn’t imagine it any other way. No matter how the “industry” changes, we’re always going to be storytellers. And there always have been, and always will be, storytellers.

Or, as Ursula K. Le Guin phrased it:

“There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories.”

So go forth, spinners of yarns and weavers of story tapestries. Weave and spin! Just be sure to drop your link in the comments below or on our Facebook page and tell us how you did with your goals this week. And, of course, be sure to visit other ROWers as well.

Happy writing!

Midweek Check-in, October 17:

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Photo by Pixabay on

Here at ROW80, we’re all about 80-day goals. I think it’s important, though, for us to create those short-term goals–quarterly, yearly, etc.–in the context of our long-term vision. Where do you want to be five years from now? Ten years from now? Twenty?

Then, we step back and assess whether our short-term goals, habits, routines, and actions are moving us toward that vision.

Something to keep in mind as we keep our noses to the grindstone for Round 4. Don’t be afraid to have a big, audacious dream, a beautiful, joyful vision for your life!

Share your check-in post in the comments section below, or on Facebook.

Sunday check-in–and a fun new resource!

Greetings, ROWers! It’s time for our Sunday check-in. We’re almost halfway through October. Are you flying through your goals, stalled or stuck a little (or a lot), or making sure, steady progress? Any way is fine, of course! We’re here for support.

Please share your check-in post below and be sure to visit fellow bloggers and offer encouragement and support.

And I’m eager to share a new resource with you. , Amazing indie author extraordinaire Sarra Cannon has a new site geared toward indie authors. It’s called Heart Breathings. Here’s the link if you’re interested. This is a great resource for any writer thinking of walking an indie path.

Happy writing, ROW80 folks!

Word by Word: Midweek Check-in

“If something inside of you is real, we will probably find it interesting, and it will probably be universal. So you must risk placing real emotion at the center of your work. Write straight into the emotional center of things. Write toward vulnerability. Risk being unliked. Tell the truth as you understand it. If you’re a writer you have a moral obligation to do this. And it is a revolutionary act—truth is always subversive.”

–Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

We are, all of us, walking our own writing path. I’m not a fan of one-size-fits-all writing advice, as though we all have the same personalities, struggles, obstacles, processes–or that we all should. We, as writers, are as unique as the stories we tell. My fantasy novel about dark faeries and goddess-worshiping witches will be quite different from your memoir about missionary work in South America. And even if we both write in the same genre, one author’s world of sparkling magic and lyrical prose will be a far cry from another author’s dark, gritty post-apocalypse with its stark style.

This is the beauty of art. That we can tell stories that touch so many people in so many different ways. That the possibilities are endless. That we can pour our souls into heartfelt prose and poetry and touch the lives of others.

And we each walk our own path. We each do it in a unique way. That’s the beauty of ROW80. That we don’t have a set formula for the challenge. We each set our own goals and can change them at will.

The important part is that we’re all supporting one another on our creative journeys. We are all telling our own stories in our own ways.

Please share your link for the midweek check-in in the comments below. And, of course, share the love by visiting other ROWers as well!

Inspiration from Ursula K. Le Guin

So much of the writing world, these days, is about author rankings and sales and marketing. And there’s nothing wrong with wanting to get our work out there and into the hands of readers who might be moved and inspired by our words.

But if you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by the focus on sales over craft, I suggest turning to the words of Ursula K. Le Guin. I’m sharing her 2014 acceptance speech for the National Book Foundation Medal:

To the givers of this beautiful reward, my thanks, from the heart. My family, my agents, my editors, know that my being here is their doing as well as my own, and that the beautiful reward is theirs as much as mine. And I rejoice in accepting it for, and sharing it with, all the writers who’ve been excluded from literature for so long — my fellow authors of fantasy and science fiction, writers of the imagination, who for fifty years have watched the beautiful rewards go to the so-called realists.

Hard times are coming, when we’ll be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine real grounds for hope. We’ll need writers who can remember freedom — poets, visionaries — realists of a larger reality.

Right now, we need writers who know the difference between production of a market commodity and the practice of an art. Developing written material to suit sales strategies in order to maximise corporate profit and advertising revenue is not the same thing as responsible book publishing or authorship.

Yet I see sales departments given control over editorial. I see my own publishers, in a silly panic of ignorance and greed, charging public libraries for an e-book 6 or 7 times more than they charge customers. We just saw a profiteer try to punish a publisher for disobedience, and writers threatened by corporate fatwa. And I see a lot of us, the producers, who write the books and make the books, accepting this — letting commodity profiteers sell us like deodorant, and tell us what to publish, what to write.

Books aren’t just commodities; the profit motive is often in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism, its power seems inescapable — but then, so did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art. Very often in our art, the art of words.

I’ve had a long career as a writer, and a good one, in good company. Here at the end of it, I don’t want to watch American literature get sold down the river. We who live by writing and publishing want and should demand our fair share of the proceeds; but the name of our beautiful reward isn’t profit. Its name is freedom.

Thank you.

Ursula K. Le Guin

November 19, 2014

Copyright 2014, Ursula K. Le Guin.

I hope you found inspiration in Le Guin’s words of wisdom. Please share your thoughts, or your Sunday check-in link below. And remember to visit other bloggers and show support. We could all use it!

The Spirit of Autumn…

We’re soaring into Round 4–the final quarter of 2018, if you can believe it! So, share your goals post below, or your first update, if you’re ready. And be sure to spread the love by visiting other ROWers’ posts as well.

For those of you embracing the spirit of Halloween…

person hands squash fruit
Photo by Kristina Paukshtite on